|Implementation of the Convention through legal and social reform can give all children happy childhoods.|
International human rights instruments such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols are negotiated among United Nations Member States and are legally binding on the individual States that become parties to the instrument. There are two ways for a State to become a party: by signature and ratification or by accession.
In ratifying the Convention or an Optional Protocol, a State accepts an obligation to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the enumerated rights—including by adopting or changing laws and policies that implement the provisions of the Convention or Protocol.
The Convention places equal emphasis on all of the rights for children. There is no such thing as a 'small' right and no hierarchy of human rights. These rights are indivisible and interrelated, with a focus on the child as a whole. Governmental decisions with regard to any one right must be made in the light of all the other rights in the Convention.
Governments that ratify the Convention or one of its Optional Protocols must report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the body of experts charged with monitoring States' implementation of the Convention and Optional Protocols. These reports outline the situation of children in the country and explain the measures taken by the State to realize their rights. In its reviews of States’ reports, the Committee urges all levels of government to use the Convention as a guide in policymaking and implementation. And because the protection of human rights is by nature a permanent and endless process, there is always room for improvement.
Child rights resources
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Definition of key terms [PDF]