Rights Based Development

Convention on the Rights of the Child

Convention of Discrimination against Women

Code for Children and Adolescents


Code for Children and Adolescents

© UNICEF Bolivia/2003
The Code for Children and Adolescents is the law that protects Bolivian children

Since the approval of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) by the U.N. General Assembly, in November of 1989, and the promulgation of a new Code for Children and Adolescents (CCA) in Bolivia, on October 27, 1999, the country has come a long way towards fighting to defend the rights of children and adolescents. This experience involved the participation of various civil society sectors as well as different government instances. During this process, UNICEF has provided support through various lines of action.

On 20 November, 1989 the U.N. General Assembly approved the International Convention on the Rights of the Child (ICRC). This text implies a before and after in juridical treatment of childhood. Faced with the old theory of an "irregular situation", the new doctrine of "integrated protection" establishes the consideration of all children and adolescents as subjects with rights and not mere objects of compassion or repression.

Bolivia was the eighth country in the world to ratify the Convention, in May of 1990, incorporating it into its legal order as a National Law, and therefore making it directly applicable. However, considering the general character of this international norm, it was necessary to adapt Bolivian legislation to this new vision.

First legal reforms

Consequently, in 1992 the Minor's Code was passed. This was the first progress made towards adequation of the law for children and adolescents to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. However, the Minor's Code still contains certain elements recalling irregular protection.

Three years after entering into force, a process of revision of the Minor's Code began, controlled by Institutions and civil society groups that were the most committed to work with children. To ensure full adequation of Bolivian legislation to the Convention,  a new draft law began to be outlined between 1995 and 1996, with the joint participation of interinstitutional work groups.

Another important document that promoted the revision of the Minor's Code was the first Child Rights Committee Report, that states, "The Committee recommends that the State adopt all the measures in its power to ensure that the present process of legal reform relating to the rights of the child is fully adjusted according to the principles and dispositions of the Convention".

Code for Children and Adolescents

Following the initiative of a variety of institutions, such as Defense for Children-International, the Undersecretary for Generational Affairs and UNICEF, a proposal to modify the Minor's Code was presented to both Chambers of Congress. The Senate gave it an important reception in the Constitution and Judicial Policy Commission. The Commission began working on the draft proposal to change the Law presented to this Chamber. UNICEF participated, forming part of the work group and coordinating activities with other institutions.

Finally, on 27 October 1999, with widespread participation by society and government institutions, the new Code for Children and Adolescents became law.

The new code uses the terms "boys, girls and adolescents" instead of "minors". Their adoption corresponds to the need to overcome the pejorative character which the term "minor" has acquired in Latin America.

UNICEF lines of action

Throughout this extended process, UNICEF played a very active role with varied lines of support:

  • Technical Support. UNICEF formed part of the technical group which carried out the revision of the old Minor's Code and drew up the new project for the Code of Children and Adolescents.
  • Financial Support. UNICEF funded the holding of workshops to support socialization and greater knowledge of the work being done during the drawing up of the new Code. The workshops were held for different groups: judges, attorneys, lawyers working for the Municipal Defenders of Children, members of various NGOs …
  • Coordination. UNICEF promoted coordination and participation between a variety of civil society institutions in drawing up the Code for Children and Adolescents.
  • Advocacy and lobbying. Once the draft Code for Children and Adolescents was drawn up and presented to Congress, UNICEF began intensive advocacy work for the approval of the law.
  • Reproduction of materials. UNICEF supported the process with constant reproduction of materials during the revision and also once the new Code was adopted. The objective of UNICEF being for the Code for Children and Adolescents to be familiar to the population and strictly applied.




    Code for Children and Adolescents

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