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25 years of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

Child Rights around the world


UNICEF’s work is guided by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The most internationally recognised treaty on the planet, the Convention sets out the basic rights of children and the obligations of governments to fulfil those rights.

This ground-breaking treaty was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1989 and was ratified by Australia in December 1990. Despite being ratified by Australia, it has not yet been incorporated into Australian law.

However, having ratified the Convention, Australia's government has commited to make sure every child in Australia has every right under each of 54 Articles in the Convention. Compliance with the Convention is monitored by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, which is based in Geneva. Governments who are party to the Convention must report every five years to the Committee on the Rights of the Child highlighting what they are doing to ensure children's rights are being met.

UNICEF's mission is to make sure the rights of every child, everywhere, are protected. UNICEF draws attention to the duties of governments, families, communities and individuals to respect those rights and supports them to do so.

 Download the child-friendly version of the CRC

Talk about these rights with your children



2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. If you are aged 25, or younger, you’ve enjoyed a childhood that has been protected by the most widely ratified international human rights treaty in history.

The Convention changed the way children are viewed and treated – that is, as human beings with a distinct set of rights instead of as passive objects of care and charity.

The unprecedented acceptance of the Convention clearly shows a wide global commitment to advancing children’s rights. 

There is much to celebrate in marking the 25th anniversary of the Convention, from declining infant mortality to rising school enrolment, but this historic milestone also serves as an urgent reminder that much remains to be done.

The world needs new ideas and approaches, and the Convention is the guiding document for every human being in every nation.


The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child consists of 54 articles and is guided by four fundamental principles:

1. EVERY CHILD, EVERYWHERE: Children should neither benefit nor suffer because of their race, colour, gender, language, religion, national, social or ethnic origin, or because of any political or other opinion; because of their caste, property or birth status; or because they are disabled.

2. THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD: Laws and actions affecting children should put their best interests first and benefit them in the best possible way.

3. SURVIVAL, DEVELOPMENT AND PROTECTION: The authorities in each country must protect children and help ensure their full development — physically, spiritually, morally and socially.Participation.

4. A VOICE: Children have a right to have their say in decisions that affect them and to have their opinions taken into account.

For more information about the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) or to order hard copies of UNICEF Australia's CRC flyer, please  phone 02 9261 2811