In November 1989, world leaders made a historic promise to the world’s children by adopting the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) – an international agreement on childhood.
The Convention is the first-ever global set of legally binding rights to apply to all children. Today, 30 years on, it remains the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history.
The CRC has changed the way children are viewed and treated everywhere, including here in the Europe and Central Asia Region. The Convention confirmed that children are individuals with their own distinct set of rights, rather than passive recipients of charity. The agreement recognizes that childhood is a time of vulnerability and that children need special care and protection, provided by those responsible for their well-being – from parents to communities, and from service sectors to governments. The CRC also recognizes the right of all children to be heard, and participate in decisions affecting their lives.
Children are standing up for their rights.
Young people are speaking out for their right to an education, demanding an end to discrimination, marching against violence in schools, striking for action on climate change, campaigning for digital reform and calling on leaders to protect their future.
Governments across the Europe and Central Asia Region have taken action to ensure more children survive, develop, and make decisions in the best interests of children. Governments have worked to guarantee that fewer experience discrimination and isolation because of their ethnicity, disability, gender or where they live or come from.
However, national economic and social progress across the Region masks pockets of disadvantage. Time and again, particular children are denied the care and protection that the rest of their peers’ experience. Still not every child gets to enjoy a full childhood. Still too many children have a childhood dominated by poverty and exclusion. And across the Region, the rights of millions are still violated through the denial of adequate healthcare, nutrition, education and protection from violence.
Disadvantaged and excluded children can be found in every part of Europe and Central Asia, and they are the focus of UNICEF’s work across the Region. Among those children who are still more likely than others to miss out on services and opportunities are the poorest children, children living with disabilities, Roma children as well as those from other minority communities, and children living in residential institutions or juvenile detention.
Child rights have no expiry date. But childhood itself has changed. In 1989, the risks and opportunities presented by the Internet were yet unclear, climate change was not fully understood, and fewer protracted conflicts were displacing entire masses of people. Today, the world is seeing rapid urbanization, the unsustainable exploitation of natural resources, and the snare of poverty being passed from one generation to the next, with a profound impact on children’s rights and well-being.
We must work together to identify solutions to the threats – old and new – that stand in the way of the full realization of all rights for every child.
Join UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Rita Ora and call on world leaders to keep their promise to children.
A GLOBAL PLEDGE: FOR EVERY CHILD, EVERY RIGHT
Thirty years on, countries are invited to renew their commitment to the full implementation of the Convention – implementing child rights in the 21st century. The Convention goes hand-in-hand with the Sustainable Development Goals with their vision for social, economic and environmental progress. Children’s rights cannot be realized without the successful implementation of the SDGs, while the SDGs cannot be achieved without ensuring that no child is left behind by social and economic progress. The Convention has never been more relevant than it is today in reaching those children who are so often disadvantaged, excluded, and marginalized.
UNICEF calls on all Governments to make a Global Pledge
UNICEF is inviting Member States to renew their commitment to the full implementation of the Convention – implementing child rights in the 21st century – by making a pledge to children.
We make this pledge directly to children themselves all around the world: for every child, every right, and our collective action today to reach this goal…
Seven countries in the Europe and Central Asia Region already support the global pledge
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- North Macedonia
Could your country be next?
If your Government would like to support the Global Pledge, your Government Mission to the United Nations can send written confirmation to UNICEF at: email@example.com
Convention on the Rights of the Child
Read and download the Convention on the Rights of the Child – the most widely ratified human rights treaty.
We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination.
How many countries have ratified the Convention? How does the Convention define "child"?
International standards on child rights have advanced dramatically over the past century – explore the milestones.