Universal Children’s Day – 20 November 2011

By resolution 836(IX) of 14 December 1954, the General Assembly recommended that all countries institute a Universal Children’s Day, to be observed as a day of worldwide fraternity and understanding between children. It recommended that the Day was to be observed also as a day of activity devoted to promoting the ideals and objectives of the Charter and the welfare of the children of the world. The Assembly suggested to governments that the Day be observed on the date and in the way which each considers appropriate. The date 20 November, marks the day on which the Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, in 1959, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in 1989.

In 2000 world leaders outlined the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – which range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015. Though the Goals are for all humankind, they are primarily about children. UNICEF notes that six of the eight goals relate directly to children and meeting the last two will also make critical improvements in their lives.

From HREA:

Despite this worldwide consensus on the importance of our children, 70% of the approximately 11 million child deaths every year are attributable to six potentially preventable causes: diarrhoea, malaria, neonatal infection, pneumonia, preterm delivery, or lack of oxygen at birth. These deaths occur mainly in the developing world. An Ethiopian child is 30 times more likely to die by his or her fifth birthday than a child in Western Europe. Among deaths of children, South-central Asia has the highest number of newborn deaths, while sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rates.

The HIV/AIDS epidemic is taking a huge toll on children, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. The number of children orphaned and made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS is projected to reach 25 million by the end of the decade, 18 million of them in sub-Saharan Africa. This, along with only modest progress fighting malaria, means the threats facing child survival are as grave as ever.

Sources: UN Dag Hammarskjöld Library, UNICEF
Selected learning materials

Study Guide on the Human Rights of Children and Youth (HREA)

Conversation about child labour and the right to education with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education (15 June 2005)

Children’s Rights Here and Now (Amnesty International-USA)

Fields of Hope: Educational Activities on Child Labor. Teacher’s Guide

“How to Protect Human Rights?” Lesson Plan: Children’s Rights in the UN System of Human Rights Protection (Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Poland)

Raising Children With Roots, Rights & Responsibilities: Celebrating the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (USA)

Teaching for Human Rights: Pre-school and Grades 1-4

Teaching for Human Rights: Grades 5-10

International treaties on children’s rights:

– Convention on the Rights of the Child

– Simplified version of the Convention on the Rights of the Child

– Declaration of the Rights of the Child

– African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

– ILO Convention (No. 138) concerning Minimum Age for Admission to Employment

– ILO Convention (No. 182) concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor

– Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict

– ptional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography
Useful links

Right to Education Project

International Labour Organization (ILO) on Child Labour

Child Rights Information Network (CRIN)

Organisations that promote and protect the rights of children & youth

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