Convention on the Rights of the Child -a guide to non-discrimination.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is a beautiful piece of legislation…however, when in the field you understand how difficult it is to realise the goals of the CRC  in practical terms. Many laws and constitutions have to be re-written or amended to allow for children to have basic rights.


Teachers and other educators should have the CRC as the basis on which to build relationships with their students. However, at present, it would be hard to find overt recognition of the CRC in any teacher training curriculum in the world.

The CRIN has been working hard not only to document abuses of the CRC but also to find ways to interpret the CRC in terms of practical use in the variety of contexts in which it should be used. First, a description of the CRC for those who are not cognizant of the Convention and secondly specific reference to a new guide to  non-discrimination. Download in pdf

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, often referred to as CRC or UNCRC, is an international convention setting out the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of children. Nations that ratify this international convention are bound to it by international law. Compliance is monitored by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child which is composed of members from countries around the world. Once a year, the Committee submits a report to the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly, which also hears a statement from the CRC Chair, and the Assembly adopts a Resolution on the Rights of the Child.

Refujiados campamento Cavarette, Haiti

Governments of countries that have ratified the Convention are required to report to, and appear before, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child periodically to be examined on their progress with regards to the advancement of the implementation of the Convention and the status of child rights in their country. Their reports and the committee’s written views and concerns are available on the committee’s website.

The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention and opened it for signature on 20 November 1989 (the 30th anniversary of its Declaration of the Rights of the Child).[5] It came into force on 2 September 1990, after it was ratified by the required number of nations. As of December 2008, 193 countries have ratified it,[1] including every member of the United Nations except the United States and Somalia.[4][6]

Two optional protocols were adopted on 25 May 2000. The first restricts the involvement of children in military conflicts, and the second prohibits the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. Both protocols have been ratified by more than 120 states.[7][8]

The Convention generally defines a child as any human being under the age of 18, unless an earlier age of majority is recognized by a country’s law.(ref wikipedia)

Introduction to discrimination

Children’s rights are violated or left unfulfilled in ways in which those of adults are not. This is a result of systemic discrimination – direct or indirect – against children.

Children face discrimination in most societies in comparison to adults because they have less power. This is a result of children’s dependence on adults and adults’ reluctance to give them more decision-making power as they develop the ability to exercise it themselves.

Besides experiencing discrimination as a group (or ‘age-based discrimination’), children face discrimination on other grounds such as their gender, disability, or sexual orientation, and sometimes because of a combination of reasons. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has so far identified 53 grounds of discrimination against children based either on their identity or the identity of their parents.

All forms of discrimination against children are exacerbated by virtue of their age and vulnerability which mean they have fewer opportunities for challenging discrimination because, for example, they do not have access to courts and complaints mechanisms on an equal basis with adults.

This document (Download in pdf ) aims to highlight the links between discrimination and the lack of fulfilment of children’s rights. It shows how article 2 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child – the right to non-discrimination – could be applied to every right as set out in the Convention. Each article includes examples both of discrimination against children as a group and against particular children.


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