Our mission

UNICEF works to promote and protect the rights of every child

Children in the Oudomxay school camp, Sanamxai district, Attapeu province, Lao PDR
Boy at Oudomxay secondary school camp, Sanamxai district, Attapeu province
UNICEF Laos/2018/Saykoson
Boy at Oudomxay secondary school camp, Sanamxai district, Attapeu province

The Convention on the Rights of the Child

Adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1989, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) has changed the way children are viewed and treated – i.e., as human beings with a distinct set of rights instead of passive recipients of charity. It recognizes that childhood is a vulnerable time, and that children need special care and protection. 

The CRC is the first global set of legally binding rights to apply to all children. It has been ratified by every country on earth, with the exception of the United States, making it the most widely ratified human rights agreement in history.

Through its 54 articles, the CRC sets minimum standards for children’s well-being at each stage of their development. It applies to everyone under the age of 18 (the definition of a child), regardless of their gender, origin, religion, disability.

The CRC is guided by four fundamental principles that apply to every child.

  • Non-discrimination (Article 2). 
  • The best interests of the child (Article 3). 
  • Survival, development and protection (Article 6). 
  • Participation (Article 12). 

Optional Protocols to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

The UN General Assembly adopted two Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 2000: to protect children from involvement in armed conflicts and from sexual exploitation. Since 2014, a third Optional Protocol has enabled children to report violations of their rights directly to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, which monitors compliance with the CRC.


Lao children in rural area
Lao children in rural area

The Sustainable Development Goals

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by world leaders in 2015 apply to all countries, and to every citizen within them. The SDGs aim to ensure equity, with everyone having the same safeguards and life opportunities within every country - rich or poor - by 2030. 
The achievement of all 17 SDGs would improve life for everyone, children as well as adults. However, some of the SDGs and their related targets are particularly relevant for the well-being of children in Lao PDR. They include, among others:

Goal 1: No poverty 
1.2. Halve the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty. 

Goal 2: Zero hunger 
2.1. End hunger and ensure access by all people, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food
2.2. End all forms of malnutrition, including achieving internationally agreed targets on stunting and wasting in children under five years of age by 2025.

Goal 3: Good health and well-being
3.1. Reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births.
3.2. End preventable deaths of newborns and children under five; aim to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1,000 live births and under-5 mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1,000 live births
3.8. Achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.

Goal 4: Quality education 
4.1. Ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes. 
4.2. Ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education.
4.5 Eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable.

Goal 5: Gender equality 
5.1. End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere 
5.2. Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls 
5.3. Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage.
5.9 Adopt and strengthen sound policies and enforceable legislation for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all levels.

Goal 6: Ensure access to water and sanitation for all
6.1. Achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all.
6.2. Achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations.
6.8. Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management

Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth
8.7. Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms. 

Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries
10.2. Empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status.
10.7. Facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies

Goal 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions 
16.1. Significantly reduce all forms of violence and related death rates everywhere.
16.2. End abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children.
16.3 Promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all.
16.9. Provide legal identity for all, including birth registration.

Goal 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
17.9 17.9 Enhance international support for implementing effective and targeted capacity-building in developing countries to support national plans to implement all the sustainable development goals.
17.18 Enhance capacity-building support to developing countries to increase significantly the availability of high-quality, timely and reliable data disaggregated by income, gender, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability, geographic location and other characteristics relevant in national contexts.

For more information: 
Sustainable Development Goals

The Sustainable Development Goals
United Nations
The Sustainable Development Goals