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Children have rights

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All children have the same right to develop their potential – all children, in all situations, all of the time, everywhere.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history. It sets forth a wide range of provisions that encompass civil rights and freedoms, family environment, basic health and welfare, education, leisure and cultural activities and special protection measures.

 The Convention has several "foundation principles" that underpin all other children's rights. These include: non-discrimination; best interests of the child; right to survival and development; and views of the child.

Non-discrimination means that all children have the same right to develop their potential -- all children, in all situations, all of the time, everywhere.

The best interests of the child must be "a primary consideration" in all actions and decisions concerning her or him, and must be used to resolve confusion between different rights.

The right to survival and development underscores the vital importance of ensuring access to basic services and to equity of opportunity for children to achieve their full development.

The views of the child means that the voice of children must be heard and respected in all matters concerning their rights.  Countries must promote children's active, free and meaningful participation in decision-making that affects them.

The CRC has been ratified by over 190 countries since it was adopted unanimously by the United Nations General Assembly in November 1989. Ratification commits countries to a code of binding obligations towards their children. Thanks to the CRC, child rights are now at the cutting edge of the global struggle for human rights, to be ensured by adult society as a matter of legal obligation, moral imperative and development priority. In the years since the CRC was adopted, the world has seen dramatic gains for children.

However, children's rights are intimately tied to those of women. Realizing the rights and equality of women is not only a core development goal in itself, but it is also the key to the survival and development of children and to building healthy families, communities and nations. Discrimination against women hurts both women and the next generation of children, boys and girls alike. Starting even before birth, a child's health and development prospects are closely linked with the mother's health and socio-economic status. Women are, moreover, the primary care-givers for children. Resources put in the hands of women are more likely to be used to benefit children. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (external link) deals with countries' obligations to enact appropriate legislation, administrative and other measures, with the aim of achieving equality between men and women in all spheres of public and private life, including the family.

The CRC and CEDAW are part of the system of international human rights law. Other important documents on human rights are (external links) the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights


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