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Convention on the Rights of the Child


Fulfilling obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols

© UNICEF/ HQ05-1582/Pirozzi
A woman health worker (right) explains the polio vaccination process at a health centre in Egypt. The government of Egypt has made good process in improving early child health, with immunization rates above 95 per cent since 1996.

Translating child rights principles into practice requires action and leadership by governments. By ratifying the Convention, States commit to undertaking "all appropriate legislative, administrative and other measures" for the full realization of the rights it contains and to reporting on these measures to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the body of experts charged with monitoring States' implementation of the Convention. For more information on the Committee, see the ‘Monitoring’ page in this section.

There are no specific right or wrong implementation measures, however the Convention should be the main benchmark and inspiration for all government action. In its reviews of States’ reports, the Committee urges all levels of government to use the Convention as a guide in policy-making and legislation, to:

  • Develop a comprehensive national agenda;
  • Develop permanent bodies or mechanisms to promote coordination, monitoring and evaluation of activities throughout all sectors of government;
  • Ensure that all legislation is fully compatible with the Convention and, if applicable the Optional Protocols, by incorporating the provisions into domestic law or ensuring that they take precedence in cases of conflict with national legislation;
  • Make children visible in policy development processes throughout government by introducing child impact assessments;
  • Analyse government spending to determine the portion of public funds spent on children and to ensure that these resources are being used effectively;
  • Ensure that sufficient data are collected and used to improve the situation of all children in each jurisdiction;
  • Raise awareness and disseminate information on the Convention and the Optional Protocols by providing training to all those involved in government policy-making and working with or for children;
  • Involve civil society b including children themselves – in the process of implementing and raising awareness of child rights; and
  • Set up independent national offices—ombudspersons, commissions, focal points within national human rights institutions, or other institutions—to promote and protect children's rights.

States’ parties to the Convention’s Optional Protocols have many of the same guidelines, and also requirements specific to the Protocols. For example, States parties to the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict must also undertake measures to ensure that individuals under the age of 18 do not take a direct part in armed conflicts. This obligation applies to measures involving 16-18 year old members of the armed forces. It also applies to legal measures to prohibit independent armed groups from recruiting and using children under the age of 18 in conflicts.

The Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography requires States to provide legal and other support services to child victims and specifically calls for international cooperation to prevent and punish these abuses.



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