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Human Rights-based Approach to Programming

Indigenous and Minority Children

© UNICEF/NYHQ2009-0231/Josh Estey
Malaysia: Children clap in a safe learning envrionment that includes classes taught in thier indigenous language

Reaching out to the most marginalized and excluded children has always been integral to UNICEF’s work. It is part of our mission, and its roots lie in the principles of universality, non-discrimination, indivisibility and participation that underpin the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and other major human rights instruments. In policy and in practice, UNICEF’s work emphasizes the necessity of addressing disparities in the effort to protect children and more fully realize their rights.

An equity-based approach which the organization is pursuing seeks to understand and address the root causes of inequity so that all children, particularly those who suffer the worst deprivations in society, including indigenous and minority children, have access to education, health care, sanitation, clean water, protection and other services necessary for their survival, growth and development.

This approach reinforces UNICEFs commitment to non-discrimination contained in article 2 of the CRC which embraces all children as subjects of rights. UNICEF’s Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSP - 2006-2013) is the organization’s vision of a better world for children with the overall objective of making a difference for them by supporting national and international implementation of poverty reduction efforts through the lens of the Millennium Development Goals.

New Publications


 Breaking the Silence on Violence against Indigenous Girls, Adolescents and Young Women (SRSG VAC, ILO, UN-Women, UNFPA, UNICEF) - 2013

Based on illustrations from Africa, Asia, and Latin America, this study finds that while violence is  universal, the experience of females of indigenous background tends to be heightened due to broader structural factors such as the history of colonial domination, dispossession, and continued discrimination of indigenous peopes. These are manifested in their lack of or limited access to basic services such as health care, education, protection and birth registration. The study calls for a concerted effort at addressing the structural, underlying causes and risk factors that lead to violence as well as improved availability of and access to culturally appropriate prevention, protection and response services.


Know Your Rights! United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples for indigenous adolescents (UNICEF, Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Global Indigenous Youth Caucus) – 2013  ES

Written for a global adolescent audience, the adolescent-friendly United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) provides background information on the indigenous peoples’ movement, the importance of the Declaration and summarizes its articles to highlight their essence.


 Indigenous and Minority Children under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)  

Article 30 - "In those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities or persons of indigenous origin exist, a child belonging to such a minority or who is indigenous shall not be denied the right, in community with other members of his or her group, to enjoy his or her own culture, to profess and practise his or her own religion, or to use his or her own language."

Article 30 protects the rights of children from minority or indigenous groups to enjoy their culture, practise their religion and use their language together with other members of their group


Article 17 - of the CRC requires States to encourage the mass media to have particular regard to the linguistic needs of children from minority or indigenous groups


Article 19 - of the CRC includes respect for the child's own culture, language and values in the aims of education and upholds the child's rights to be educated outside the state system




UNICEF videos on the Rights of Indigenous and Minority Children

Securing the rights of indigenous children


Indigenous youth speak up for their rights - Parts 1 & 2

CRC @ 20: Minority children have rights





Press Release


3rd Committee of the UN General Assembly: Discussion on Indigenous Children & A World Fit For Children

General Comment 11

Innocenti Digest

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