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Convention on the Rights of the Child

What we have achieved

Audry Cheynut from Monaco addressed the audience at the Special Session on Children in 2002. This was the first time in history that children addressed the General Assembly.

More progress was made in realizing and protecting children's rights in the years following adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child than in any other comparable period in human history and children's rights are now higher on public and political agendas than ever before. Major achievements in the area of child rights include:

  • Special institutions, structures, agendas and measures in the interest of promoting child rights have emerged in all corners of the globe. Non-governmental organizations and other actors in civil society have emerged as innovative and powerful voices for children's rights.
  • Wholesale legislative reform in favour of child rights often has been the outcome of the mandatory comprehensive review of national legislation under the Convention's reporting process. Also as a result of this process, States have acquired new impetus to achieving child survival and development goals.
  • States have begun to respond to the extreme violence and exploitation, abuse and neglect that is a reality for millions of children. The principles requiring that children be protected from 'all forms of physical and mental violence' have sparked new hope for reducing the many forms of adult violence against children.
  • Because of the Convention's non-discrimination principle, States have moved to better realize and protect the rights of forgotten and invisible children—children who are refugees, children who have been institutionalized, children who work or are otherwise exploited, children living or working on the streets and children who have been bought and sold across borders.
  • States have been obliged to ensure that their definitions of childhood meet the standards outlined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  • States have developed distinct systems of youth justice that focus on reintegration in society and avoid—wherever possible—criminalizing children and depriving them of liberty.
  • Progress has been made in ensuring that children's views are being heard, respected and taken into account—within families, communities and States—when actions are undertaken, policies shaped and results assessed.

Challenges ahead

However, much work remains to be done to realize all rights for all children. Many children in developing countries are not in primary school and the majority of them are girls. Millions of children are severely or moderately malnourished or die every year of easily preventable causes. More than a billion people lack access to safe water. Children are harmed increasingly punitive systems of juvenile justice. Many unwanted children languish in orphanages and other institutions, denied education and adequate health care. Hundreds of millions of children are engaged in some form of labour. Armed conflicts around the globe continue to shorten and ruin the lives of millions of children. Hundreds of thousands of children still serve as soldiers in national armies.

Millions of children's lives will be affected if the obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child are not met.



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