What is the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child?
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, or UNCRC, is a special agreement made by governments from all around the world (including Australia) to ensure every child, no matter who they are, where they live or what they believe, has rights.
After listening and learning from the experts, most countries that make up the United Nations agreed on 54 different rights that every child under 18 should have to live a safe, healthy and happy life. In 1989 they signed this agreement, which we now know as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The Rights of the Child
The Convention on the Rights of the Child is a promise countries from around the world have made to protect children. It explains the rights and the responsibilities of governments. All rights are connected, are equally important and cannot be taken away from children.
Why does the Convention on the Child's of the Rights matter?
The Convention on the Rights of the Child is for every child, no matter their gender, religion, culture or ethnicity. The rights are based on what a child needs to grow, learn and live a safe and healthy life. Every day, UNICEF is working to ensure every child not only survives but thrives throughout their life.
Summary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child
Everyone under 18 years of age has all the rights in this Convention.
The Convention applies to everyone whatever their race, religion, abilities, whatever they think or say, whatever type of family they come from.
All organisations concerned with children should work towards what is best for each child.
Governments should make these rights available to children.
Governments should respect the rights and responsibilities of families to guide their children so that, as they grow up, they learn to use their rights properly.
Children have the right to live a full life. Governments should ensure that children survive and develop healthily.
Children have the right to a legally registered name and nationality. Children also have the right to know their parents and, as far as possible, to be cared for by them.
Governments should respect a child’s right to a name, a nationality and family ties.
Children should not be separated from their parents unless it is for their own good. For example, if a parent is mistreating or neglecting a child. Children whose parents have separated have the right to stay in contact with both parents, unless this might harm the child.
Families who live in different countries should be allowed to move between those countries so that parents and children can stay in contact or get back together as a family.
Governments should take steps to stop children being taken out of their own country illegally.
Children have the right to say what they think should happen when adults are making decisions that affect them and to have their opinions taken into account.
Children have the right to get and to share information, as long as the information is not damaging to them or to others.
Children have the right to think and believe what they want and to practise their religion, as long as they are not stopping other people from enjoying their rights. Parents should guide children on these matters.
Children have the right to meet with other children and young people and to join groups and organisations, as long as this does not stop other people from enjoying their rights.
Children have the right to privacy. The law should protect them from attacks against their way of life, their good name, their family and their home.
Children have the right to reliable information from the media. Mass media such as television, radio and newspapers should provide information that children can understand and should not promote materials that could harm children.
Both parents share responsibility for bringing up their children and should always consider what is best for each child. Governments should help parents by providing services to support them, especially if both parents work.
Governments should ensure that children are properly cared for and protect them from violence, abuse and neglect by their parents, or anyone else who looks after them.
Children who cannot be looked after by their own family must be looked after properly by people who respect their religion, culture and language.
When children are adopted the first concern must be what is best for them. The same rules should apply whether children are adopted in the country of their birth or if they are taken to live in another country.
Children who come into a country as refugees should have the same rights as children who are born in that country.
Children who have any kind of disability should receive special care and support so that they can live a full and independent life.
Children have the right to good quality health care, clean water, nutritious food and a clean environment so that they will stay healthy. Richer countries should help poorer countries achieve this.
Children who are looked after by their local authority rather than their parents should have their situation reviewed regularly.
The Government should provide extra money for the children of families in need.
Children have the right to a standard of living that is good enough to meet their physical and mental needs. The government should help families who cannot afford to provide this.
Children have the right to an education. Discipline in schools should respect children’s human dignity. Primary education should be free. Wealthier countries should help poorer countries achieve this.
Education should develop each child’s personality and talents to the full. It should encourage children to respect their parents, their cultures and other cultures.
Children have the right to learn and use the language and customs of their families, whether or not these are shared by the majority of the people in the country where they live, as long as this does not harm others.
Children have the right to relax, play and to join in a wide range of leisure activities.
Governments should protect children from work that is dangerous or that might harm their health or education.
Governments should provide ways of protecting children from dangerous drugs.
Governments should protect children from sexual abuse.
Governments should make sure that children are not abducted or sold.
Children should be protected from any activities that could harm their development.
Children who break the law should not be treated cruelly. They should not be put in a prison with adults and should be able to keep in contact with their family.
Governments should not allow children under 15 to join the army. Children in war zones should receive special protection.
Children who have been neglected or abused should receive special help to restore their self-respect.
Children who are accused of breaking the law should receive legal help. Prison sentences for children should only be used for the most serious offences.
If the laws of a particular country protects children better than the articles of the Convention, then those laws should override the Convention.
Governments should make the Convention known to all parents and children.
The complete Convention on the Rights of the Child has 54 articles. Articles 43-54 are about how adults and governments should work together to make sure that all children realise their rights.Download the Rights of the Child
The four core principals of the Convention on the Rights of the Child
The four core principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child are non-discrimination, best interests of the child, the right to survival and development, and the views of the child.
Everyone is equal (Article 2)
Whatever their age, gender, culture or belief, every child has rights.
Do what is best for the child (Article 3)
Adults should always consider the impact of their decisions on children.
Everyone has the right to live and grow (Article 6)
Every child has the right to live. Governments should make sure children can grow up healthy.
Children's opinions matter (Article 12)
Every child can share their thoughts and feelings. Adults should listen and take them seriously.
Frequently asked questions
196 countries have agreed to the Convention of the Rights of the Child, including Australia.
UNICEF is an agency of the United Nations and works to protect children's rights. UNICEF's guiding principal is the Convention of the Rights of the Child, and our teams work in over 190 countries to ensure every child is healthy, educated and safe from harm.
There are also three extra rules called "Optional Protocols". These give more protection to children in situations like war or child trafficking.
The convention is a legally binding framework, meaning all countries that have accepted the agreement are required by law to ensure that all children can enjoy their civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child was created by the United Nations General Assembly on 20 November 1989.
There are 54 articles in the Convention Rights of the Child, which gives children and young people a range of rights, including the right to health, education, play and family life. As well as the right to be protected from violence, not to be discriminated against, and to have their views heard.
The complete United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
A comprehensive guide to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.