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191 countries have ratifed the International Convention on the Rights of the Child - more than any other treaty

191 countries had ratified the treaty by 11 Mar 2001

Other Treaties:

Background

The International Covenants

Racial Discrimination

Women

Torture

Regional Courts

UN Human Rights Commission

International Criminal Court

Vienna Declaration

   

Sites:

Convention on the Rights of the Child

Committee on the Rights of the Child

Declaration and reservations

UNICEF

BBC Children's Rights

US opposition - Concerned Women for America

   

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Convention on the Rights of the Child

 

The most widely ratified human rights treaty in history is the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was adopted by the UN on 20 November 1989.

Check what your country has ratified

Only two countries have failed to ratify it.

Somalia, which until recently did not have an internationally recognised government, signed the Convention in May 2002 but has not yet ratified it. The United States has also signed the Convention, but has failed to ratify it. This may be because some US States want to continue to be able to execute their juveniles - an action expressly forbidden by the Convention.

According to the convention, a child is defined as:

... a person under 18 (years of age), unless national laws recognise the age of majority earlier. "

(Article I)

It says children have a right to:

  • Protection from violence, abuse, hazardous employment, exploitation, abduction or sale.

  • Special protection in times of war and no child under 15 should ever have to fight in an army.

  • Protection from disease and famine.

  • Free compulsory primary education.

  • Adequate health care.

  • Equal treatment regardless of gender, race or cultural background.

  • Freedom to express opinions and be listened to.

  • Play.

Implementation

The Committee on the Rights of the Child oversees the Convention. Within two years of its entry into force for the country concerned, a signatory is required to submit an initial report on the measures it has adopted ad on the progress made on the enjoyment of those rights.

Subsequently, reports must be submitted by the signatory every five years. Governments are often very late in reporting, and the Committee relies on the exercise of diplomatic pressure.

Protecting Children

By 1990, international awareness of the commercial sexual exploitation and the sale of children had grown to such a level that the United Nations Commission on Human Rights created the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.

The current special rapporteur is Juan Miguel Petit from Uruguay. He investigates the exploitation of children around the world and submits reports on the findings to the General Assembly and the Commission on Human Rights, making recommendations for the protection of the rights of the children concerned.

These recommendations are targeted primarily at governments, other United Nations bodies, and non-governmental organisations.

Issues of Concern

Since the Convention on the Rights of the Child entered into force two optional protocols have been adopted with the purpose of strengthening the rights already outlined in the treaty and to bring attention to additional issues that are of concern.

The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography entered into force in January 2002.

The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict was adopted in February 2002.

 

   
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