What is the Convention on the Rights of the Child?
Child rights we should all know
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It has been 30 years since the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) first come into place. The CRC is an international agreement adopted in 1989 and, with 196 signatory parties, it is the world's most widely ratified international human rights agreement. World leaders came together to make this historic agreement making a promise to every child that they will do everything they can to protect and fulfill their rights. Still, far too many children, youth and young people are left behind and deprived of basic rights promised to them. Their rights are threatened and their childhood cut short by poverty, violence, and inequity. Many children and youth are denied the opportunities to be included, be heard and participate even in the matters that directly affect them.
No matter how long and rough the road ahead, today is the time that we must walk the walk together to support every right for every child. Children must be able to live in a nurturing environment for them to realize their full potential and to meaningfully participate in society. UNICEF is committed to the driving force to fulfill the pledge we all made 30 years ago and stand with children as they are standing up to bring positive change and shape the better world, a little big world fit for every child.
A child is every individual below the age of 18 (unless in countries where the law applicable to the child differs) and are entitled to every right stipulated in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Thailand acceded to on the 12th February 1992. This means the government is obliged to take action to ensure that every child in the country, regardless of who they are, equally enjoy the rights under the Convention. It is also the duty of the government to report the progress to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child
Child Rights We Should All Know
The Convention on the Rights of the Child comprises four main pillars - the right to survival, the right to protection, the right to development and the right to participation. These rights are based on the non-discrimination principle and all actions must be in line with the best interest of children. Let’s have a look into the details of each pillar, shall we?
1. The Right to Survival
Since the first moment children are born, they have the right to life. They have the right to a registered name and nationality. They have the right to be cared for and protected by their parents and not be separated from their families. The government needs to safeguard these rights and provide basic services for children to survive and thrive. This includes quality healthcare, age-appropriate nutrition, clean drinking water and a safe place to live as well as access to future opportunities for development.
2. The Right to Protection
Once children are born and survive, they have the right to be protected from all forms of harm including domestic violence. They must be protected from physical violence and psychological intimidation may they be within and outside their families. The right to protection also includes being protected from child labour, tasks that are dangerous or impede their education. Likewise, children must be protected from harmful substances and drugs. Another important aspect is protection from trafficking, smuggling, kidnapping, sexual abuse and all forms of exploitation against children. The government also has the duty to ensure that child victims are rehabilitated and reintegrated into society with dignity.
In terms of the justice process, every child not only has the right to fair treatment but also unique attention to children’s needs meaning every legal procedure needs to take into account the best interest of children.
For children separated from their families, they have the right to be protected and cared for with respect to their ethnic background, language, religion, and culture. In wartime, every child must be protected from war or joining the fighting. When children are refugees, they must have special assistance and protection.
3. The Right to Development
A child today is an adult of tomorrow. Education and development are essential rights. This should begin with the right to access to early childhood development services and access to information from various sources with parents responsible for giving guidance. Meanwhile, children with special needs such as children with disabilities must have equal rights to development and education that enable them to realize their potential and meaningfully participate in society. The right to development also includes the opportunity to further specialized skills and physical and mental abilities that open ways for them to a brighter future and realize their dream.
4. The Right to Participation
Children are members of society. They may be small in size but they fully have the right to freely express their thoughts, views and opinions, and participate in society particularly in the areas affecting them. Their voices must be seriously taken into account in line with their age and maturity.
Every child and youth has unfathomable potentials. While the government has to facilitate and support the participation of children and youth, everyone also needs to take action to support children and youth to participate and exercise their agency as they are also the main driving force in bringing about positive change to society.
Because we value…the voice of the child
Not every child can enjoy their rights. When this happens, what can we do?
In Thailand, there are still too many children being left behind as a result of the right deprivation. Over 11% of children under five are stunted. About 15% of children aged 3-5 do not have access to early childhood development. At least 14% of children in high school are not in school or receive any forms of training. Three in four children aged 1 – 14 have experienced physical assault or psychological aggression. A number of adolescents do not have access to necessary information on adolescent health, skill development and are denied participation opportunities.
Marking the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, we all must be aware of our important role in promoting the rights of children and youth because these rights are necessary to enable them to develop and realize their potentials. This 30th anniversary occasion is the important moment that we once again stand together and reaffirm the promise we made to every child because it takes us all to ensure that our younger generation develop, thrive and grow to their full potentials and are able to participate, exercise their agency and play active role in society alongside adults.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is an important agreement by countries who have promised to protect children’s rights.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child explains who children are, all their rights, and the responsibilities of governments. All the rights are connected, they are all equally important and they cannot be taken away from children.
Be part of the effort to build a little big world fit for every child. Download the Child-Friendly Convention on the Rights of the Child and help spread the word today.