Children's rights

Source: Partners Relief and Development
"Displaced Childhoods" is the first comprehensive report of its kind to document the experiences of internally displaced children against the backdrop of Burma's obligations under domestic and international law. April 2010 (pdf). [see more]
The protection of children's rights was first brought up on the international agenda in the first half of the twentieth century due to child labor and its hazardous working conditions, trafficking and sexual exploitation (UNICEF 2005).

One of the first key instruments in the development of children’s rights legislation was the proclamation of the 1924 declaration of the Rights of the Child by the League of Nations. However, children’s rights as we know them today emerged from the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1989 which came to replace the former declaration.

The CRC is one of the most important human rights instruments proclaiming children’s rights, as it has been ratified more quickly and by more governments (all except Somalia and the US) than any other convention until this day. It presents a holistic approach since it incorporates civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights as well as aspects of humanitarian law. The Convention defines a child as a human being under 18. Some of the most important children's rights mentioned on the CRC that the State has the obligation to protect are:

  • Freedom of expression

  • Freedom of thought, conscience and religion

  • Special protection to refugee children

  • Special care, education and training to disabled children

  • Right to health

  • Right to an adequate standard of living

  • Right to education

  • Respect of cultural identities of children of minorities or indigenous populations

  • The Committee on the Rights of the Child, which is a body of experts, contains a significant function, as they monitor the implementation of the CRC by states parties. They also examine the reports that the states are committed to submit on a regular basis on progress made in fulfilling their commitment. All countries that have ratified the CRC, have an obligation to apply and enforce the rights expressed in the convention into the domestics laws and provide mechanism and measurements to realize those rights in practice.

    Even if international agreements such as the CRC are crucial for the progress of children’s rights, national laws play a vital role in securing its implementation. According to a study made by UNICEF (Unicef 2005) , it is within a domestic context where “accountability is to be sought primarily and principally”. On the other hand, other aspects including social, historical and cultural factors are of great significance for the realization of rights in general and children’s rights in particular. Factors such as poverty, conflicts, social instability, and discrimination contribute to today’s increasing violations and breaches against children’s rights in both industrialized and developing countries. Different groups of children are also more vulnerable to discrimination on account of their sex, race, religion, national, ethical or social origin and disabilities to name a few.

    In order to take action for the child’s best interest requires not only the engagement from governments, but from every part of society and its institutions at all level.
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    Thursday, April 08 2010
    Human rights and international crimes against Burma's internally displaced children
    (Source: Partners Relief and Development)
    Thursday, October 01 2009
    Children non-discrimination toolkit
    (Source: CRIN)

    International and regional instruments

    Full of promise: How the UN's Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism can better protect children (Humanitarian Practice Network)

    African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) (African Union)

    Ibero-American Convention on Young People's Rights (Ibero-American Youth Organization)

    Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

    The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)

    Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) (United Nations)

    Children's rights in the African Union (CRIN)

    A world fit for children: the new agenda for the world's children for the next decade (UNICEF)

    Laying the foundations for children’s rights (UNICEF)


    Regional protection of child rights in Africa (Pambazuka)

    Child labour

    International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) (International Labour Organization (ILO))

    Children of the stone quarries (InfoChange India)

    Modern policy and legislative responses to child labour (CRIN - IPEC)

    Eliminating child labour: not as simple as it seems (Maquila Solidarity Network)

    Anti-Slavery: child labour programme (Anti-Slavery)

    Global Unions Campaign: Get involved to stop child labour (International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU))

    Global March Against Child Labour

    NATs movement of working children

    The subterranean child labour force: Subcontracted home based manufacturing in Asia (UNICEF)

    Abuses against child domestic workers in El Salvador (Human Rights Watch)

    Children in conflict with the law

    The rest of their lives: Life without parole for child offenders in the United States (Human Rights Watch)

    Legal assistance for children in conflict with the law (International Juvenile Justice Observatory)

    Juvenile justice: modern concepts of working with children in conflict with the law (CRIN)

    Protecting the rights of children in conflict with the law (OMCT)

    Diverting child offenders from judicial proceedings (CRIN)

    Palestinian child political prisoners: semi annual report 2007 (Defence for Children International)


    The Convention on the Rights of the Child and quality education (CRIN - Save the Children)

    How donors are failing children in conflict-affected fragile states (International Save the Children Alliance)

    Failing our children: barriers to the right to education (Human Rights Watch)

    Education's missing millions: including disabled children in education (Global Campaign for Education)

    Your right to education: a handbook for refugees and displaced communities (Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children)

    Education for all by 2015: will we make it? (UNESCO)

    Education in rural areas: obstacles and relevance (International Research on Working Children - IREWOC)

    The right to education: an unfinished task for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC)

    Gender and girls

    Because I am a girl: state of the world's girls 2008 (Plan UK)

    Too young to wed: Child marriage in their own words (International Center for Research on Women (ICRW))

    Because I am a girl: the state of the world's girls 2007 (Plan International)

    Violence against girls (Human Rights Watch)

    Discrimination against the girl child: female infanticide, female genital cutting and honor killing (Youth Advocate Program International)

    Information resources

    Children non-discrimination toolkit (CRIN)

    The Child Development Index (Save the Children UK)

    Illustrated versions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People)

    Global Network of Children's Ombudspersons (European Network of Ombudspersons for Children)

    International and regional NGO networks

    Amnesty International

    International Save the Children Alliance

    Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers

    Latin-American and Caribbean network working for the protection of the rights of children

    Child Rights Information Network (CRIN)

    Global Movement for Children

    Defence for Children International

    Human Rights Watch - Children's Rights Division

    OMCT's children’s rights programme

    Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict

    Child Workers in Asia Foundation

    African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect

    Children in armed conflicts

    Strengthening protection for children in armed conflict (Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict)

    Children in war (International Committee of the Red Cross)

    Children affected by conflict (United Nations)

    Will you listen? Young voices from conflict zones (UNICEF)

    Impact of armed conflict on children: Report of the expert of the Secretary-General (UN)

    Sustained occupation, suspended dreams: an analysis of human rights violations against Palestinian children (Defence for Children International - Palestine Section)

    Monitoring and reporting mechanism on children and armed conflict (Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict)

    UN: Report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict (United Nations)

    Sexual exploitation and trafficking

    Break the silence: prevent sexual exploitation and abuse in and around schools in Africa (Plan International - West Africa)

    Child Trafficking - Digital library

    ECPAT International

    Learning from practice: reframing the scholarly dialogue on children’s rights and sexuality (HighBeam Encyclopedia)

    Protecting children from sexual abuse and exploitation (Save the Children Alliance)

    Health and HIV AIDS

    Home truths: facing the facts on children, AIDS, and poverty (Joint Learning Initiative on Children and HIV/AIDS)

    Make it Matter - 10 Key advocacy messages to prevent HIV in girls and young women (International Planned Parenthood Federation)

    HIV/AIDS and children In India (CounterCurrents)

    The state of the world's children 2008: child survival (UNICEF)

    MSF factsheet on children and HIV/AIDS (MSF)

    The right of children and adolescents to a healthy environment: A diagnosis from Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC)

    Letting them fail: government neglect and the right to education for children affected by AIDS (Human Rights Watch)

    Children's right to health: do they get what was promised? (People's Health Movement - South Africa)

    Violence against children

    Human rights and international crimes against Burma's internally displaced children (Partners Relief and Development)

    United Nations Secretary-General's Study on Violence against Children (United Nations)

    Ending legalised violence against children - Global Report 2007 (Global Initiative to end all Corporate Punishment of Children)

    Reporting on violence against children: a thematic guide for non-governmental organisations (CRIN)

    Easy targets: violence against children worldwide (Human Rights Watch)

    UN study on violence: civil society gateway (CRIN)

    Children and corporal punishment (Save the Children Alliance)

    Prohibiting corporal punishment of children: a guide to legal reform and other measures (End all Corporal Punishment)

    Overview reports

    Tracking progress on child and maternal nutrition: a survival and development priority (UNICEF)

    Still out of focus: Status of India's children 2008 (HAQ: Centre for Child Rights)

    Undocumented children in Europe: invisible victims of immigration restrictions (PICUM)

    Defending the housing rights of children (COHRE)

    Progress for Children: A World Fit for Children Statistical Review (No. 6) (UNICEF)

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