CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD
Since its adoption in 1989, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) continues to transform the lives of children and their communities the world over, even in sensitive areas where cultural traditions have long held sway.
§ In scores of countries, in every region of the world, the importance of child rights has been tangibly affirmed through concrete changes in law, policy, and practice. This includes incorporating child-rights provisions into national constitutions. In Malaysia, the Child Act was introduced in 2001.
§ Within the first decade since the CRC was adopted, the world witnessed dramatic gains for child health and development. With governments at the 1990 World Summit for Children agreeing on a series of universal goals for child survival and development, more children in the developing world were immunised, and polio was on the verge of eradication.
§ The principle that all children have a fundamental right to education, for example, has inspired governments to introduce policies which include free primary education to reach the poorest and most marginalised children.
§ Important steps have been taken to promote behavioural change and to put an end to practices that are incompatible with the spirit and provisions of the CRC. These range from bans on female genital mutilation to the prohibition of corporal punishment of children in schools and within the family, as well as bans on the use of the death penalty, recruitment into armed forces, and employment below a minimum legal age.
§ The CRC’s four main principles are influencing countries to adopt justice systems which use a child-centred perspective which is incorporated both in legislation and practice.
§ The CRC led to the adoption of a global treaty in 1999 to end the use of anti-personnel landmines, which kill and maim thousands of children every year and cripple their countries’ capacity for development.
§ The world now has an agreement on an International Criminal Court, a major step toward ending the culture of impunity that has allowed millions of children and women to be targeted in warfare.