The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 20 November 1989. Its purpose is to recognise and protect the fundamental rights of the world’s children.
It is a fundamental text that makes a child into a subject of law:
- it enshrines all children’s right to express their opinion and be heard on any issue relating to them;
- it acknowledges children as individuals with their own aspirations and universal human rights;
- it sets out the universal human rights covering all aspects of a child’s life;
- it makes children’s best interests the priority principle for any measure designed to guarantee these rights and ensure children’s well-being.
It is currently the international treaty with the widest backing, since all countries apart from the United States have ratified it, i.e. 196 out of 197.
See the full text of the UNCRC in French, English, and German.
Click here for the text of the UNCRC adapted for children aged 10 and over.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child also has three optional protocols adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2000 (for the first and second) and in 2011 (for the third):
The Committee on the Rights of the Child is the body responsible for monitoring respect for and application of the Convention throughout the world. Countries that have ratified the Convention undertake to submit regular and detailed reports on their national situation as regards children’s rights to the Committee for examination. The Committee examines each report and raises concerns or submits recommendations to the country in question.
Civil society and children themselves can also submit reports to the Committee. To that end, there is also a guide for children, in French and English.
The Committee meets three times per year in Geneva. It is made up of 18 independent members of “high moral character” from different countries, who are experts in the field of rights. The Committee members are nominated and elected for four years by the States parties, and can be re-elected if nominated. Nevertheless, they do not represent their countries’ government or any other organisation to which they may belong. They serve in their personal capacity.
The Committee also monitors application of the three optional protocols adopted by the UN General Assembly, which supplement the UNCRC.
See more information on the Committee on the Rights of the Child.