Child rights

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Rights or needs

PROTECTING CHILDREN AND THEIR DIGNITY

Rights and needs are closely related, but are also separate. Difficulties often arise when they are confused with each other.

Children have several basic needs such as food, shelter, clean water, education and healthcare to ensure their survival, development and protection. A need however cannot be claimed. It is not legally binding and can be taken away at anytime.

A right however can be claimed. When a need is recognised and defended as a right, duty bearers such as governments and parents are obligated to ensure the child’s access to it.

The recognition given to human rights is relatively recent, beginning with the Charter of the United Nations in 1945 -- and, three years later, with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which proclaim that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.

The acknowledgement that children have the same human rights as adults is even more recent. For much of human history, children’s needs were viewed from a lens of charity and kindness.

But on 20 November 1989, after more than a decade of negotiations, the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) -- the first and only human rights instrument to focus specifically on the rights and freedoms of persons under the age of 18.

Convention on the Rights of the Child: Read Now!
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