30 years of child rights: Historic gains and undeniable achievements, but little progress for the world’s poorest children

In Thailand, children from poor families and migrant children are still lagging behind in health and education

18 November 2019
More than 200 children and young people from Children and Youth Council and youth networks across the country gathered at the youth forum in 2017

NEW YORK, 18 November 2019 – There have been historic gains overall for the world’s children since the Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted 30 years ago. However, many of the poorest children are yet to feel the impact, according to The Convention on the Rights of the Child at a Crossroads, a new report released today.

Part of commemorations marking the 30th anniversary of the CRC, UNICEF’s global report looks at the undeniable achievements of the past three decades, proof that where there is political will and determination, children’s lives improve.  

“There have been impressive gains for children over the past three decades, as more and more are living longer, better and healthier lives. However, the odds continue to be stacked against the poorest and most vulnerable,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.

Citing progress in child rights over the past three decades, the report notes many progress for children. For example, the global under-five mortality rate has fallen by about 60 per cent; the proportion of primary-school-aged children not in school decreased from 18 per cent to 8 per cent. The guiding principles of the CRC – non-discrimination; the best interests of the child; the right to life, survival and development; and the right to protection – have influenced numerous constitutions, laws, policies and practices globally.

In Thailand, the well-being of children has improved significantly over the past decades. According to the national survey on the situation of children and women conducted by National Statistical Office in 2015-2016, almost every child in Thailand is registered at birth, and 95 per cent of primary-school aged children attend schools. Yet, disparities remain, with children and young people from poor households, and those living in remote areas, are often lagging behind in health, education, and overall development.

For example, about 22 per cent of children in Thailand are still living in multidimensional poverty, with the rates higher in the Northeast; children younger than five in southernmost provinces have far higher rates of stunting than the national average; and non-Thai children are the largest group accounted for out of school children.

Earlier this month, UNICEF Thailand launched a campaign calling upon adults to empower children and young people, by listening to their voices, recognizing their agency, and giving them the necessary support and space to participate in society. The campaign released a short video http://bit.ly/crc30th under the banner of #NoMoreWhiteFlag to promote children and young people’s right to participation, as enshrined in the Convention.

“This is a moment for bold action to ensure we leave no child behind, and to help every child reach their full potential,” said Peter Frobel, Acting UNICEF Representative for Thailand. “Today, young people around the world are standing up for their rights, speaking out for better education, demanding an end to discrimination, marching against violence in schools, striking for action on climate crisis, campaigning for digital reform and calling on leaders to protect their future. We need to support them and work with them as agents of change, so that we can together meaningfully tackle the challenges for the next 30 years and beyond.”

The global report also addresses age-old and new threats affecting children around the world such as poverty, discrimination and marginalization, rapid changes in climate, resurgence of vaccine-preventable disease such as measles. In addition, the number of out-of-school children has stagnated and learning outcomes for those in school remain poor.

To address these challenges, the report calls for more data and evidence; scaling up proven solutions and interventions; expanding resources; involving young people in co-creating solutions; and applying the principles of equity and gender equality in programming. In addition, the rapidly changing world also requires new modalities to confront emerging opportunities and challenges, and to truly embed the rights of children as a global cause again.

Over the next 12 months, UNICEF plans to undertake a global dialogue on what it will take to make the promise of the convention a reality for every child. It will involve children and young people, parents and caregivers, education and social workers, communities and governments, civil society, academia, the private sector and the media, which will influence the way the organization does business in the future.


Notes to Editors:

Read the report here: https://uni.cf/CRC-media

Download multimedia content here: https://weshare.unicef.org/Package/2AMZIF31URK1

For more information about the Convention on the Rights of the Child visit: https://www.unicef.org/child-rights-convention

Media Contacts

Nattha Keenapan
Communication Officer
UNICEF Thailand Country Office
Tel: 086-616-7555
Iman Morooka
Chief of Communication
UNICEF Thailand
Tel: 061-414-6488


UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.

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