Children’s rights at the United Nations

Children’s rights at the United Nations


Annual day on the rights of the child

The theme of this year’s annual day on the rights of the child is “Information and communication technology and child sexual exploitation”. The full-day meeting will constitute an important opportunity to discuss different national, regional and international initiatives to empower children through information and communications technologies (ICTs). The meeting will discuss the need for children to be protected against child sexual exploitation online and offline, while ensuring their digital rights are upheld. The annual day will explore:

  • The relationship between ICTs and the rights of the child, including opportunities and challenges to the realisation of these rights;

  • Good practices and lessons learnt aimed at promoting regional and international cooperation on this issue;

  • Strategies to empower children to make better use of the internet, and to contribute to their online protection;

  • Recommendations to guarantee safe and equal access for children to ICTs and to ensure the criminalisation of online child abuse and exploitation.

You can watch the event live and archived on

Child rights events at the Human Rights Council:

Monday – 07/03/2016

Tuesday – 08/03/2016

Thursday – 10/03/2016


Special rapporteur reports at the Human Rights Council

Special procedure mandate-holders are requested by the Human Rights Council to present annual reports in which they describe their activities undertaken during the previous year. The annual reports discuss general issues concerning: working methods, theoretical analysis, general trends and developments with regard to their respective mandates and may contain general recommendations. Reports on country visits are usually presented as addenda to the annual reports.

The following reports will be presented at this year’s Human Rights Council:

  • A/HRC/31/19 – Annual report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.

  • A/HRC/31/20 – Annual report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children.

  • A/HRC/31/29 – Report of the Secretary-General on the impact of the arbitrary deprivation of nationality on the enjoyment of the rights of children concerned, as well as on the existing laws and practices on accessibility for children to acquire nationality, inter alia, of the country in which they are born, if they otherwise would be stateless.

  • A/HRC/31/33 – Follow-up report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on investment in the rights of the child.

  • A/HRC/31/34 – Report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on information and communications technology and child sexual exploitation.

  • A/HRC/31/35 – Study of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of migrants in transit, including unaccompanied children and adolescents, as well as women and girls.

  • A/HRC/31/37 – Annual report on Protection of the family: contribution of the family to the realization of the right to an adequate standard of living for its members, particularly through its role in poverty eradication and achieving sustainable development. Report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

  • A/HRC/31/58/Add.2 – Report of the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography on her mission to Armenia.

  • A/HRC/31/80 – Report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on technical cooperation and capacity-building to promote and protect the rights of all migrants, including women, children, older persons and persons with disabilities.

An important report:

Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children

In light of this year’s annual day on the rights of the child, and speaking on the occasion of Safer Internet Day last month, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, Marta Santos Pais, renewed her call to ensure that the empowerment of children is at the heart of building a safer and more inclusive Internet. She noted that rather than curtailing children’s natural curiosity and sense of innovation, it is critical to tap into their resourcefulness and enhance their capacities to use the internet with confidence and safety.

This year also marks the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Study on Violence against Children and the start of efforts to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including goal 16.2 on ending all forms of violence against children. The annual report of the Special Representative reviews key developments and initiatives she has promoted. This year’s annual report addresses the SDGs, the Global study on the deprivation of liberty, regional processes for the protection of children from violence and a special note of concern drawing attention to the serious impact on children of cyberbullying and challenges to their digital rights.


International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers

While working in Chad some years back, you knew when there was a spike in the conflict in the North of the country, as you would suddenly notice the lack of street children in town. They had been taken to be used as child soldiers.

CRIN reminds us frequently about the continuing use of children in war, not just as victims but as forced perpetrators, manipulated due to their age.

International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers

The UN warned, during the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers, that children are becoming increasingly vulnerable to recruitment and deployment by armed groups, as the world’s conflicts become more brutal, intense and widespread.

”Out of 59 parties to conflicts identified by the Secretary-General for grave violations against children, 57 are named because they are recruiting and using child[ren]”, said Leila Zerrougui, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.

Tens of thousands of boys and girls are associated with armed forces and armed groups in conflicts in over 20 countries around the world. Many have been victims of, witness to and forced participants in acts of unspeakable brutality.

In Afghanistan, despite progress to end the recruitment and use of children in national security forces, children continue to be recruited by parties to conflict such as the Haqqani Network and the Taliban. In the most extreme cases, children have been used as suicide bombers, to make weapons and transport explosives.

In the Central African Republic, boys and girls as young as eight years old were recruited and used by all parties to the conflict to take direct part in inter-ethnic and religious violence.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the United Nations documented new cases of recruitment of children by multiple armed groups operating in the eastern part of the country. The children, in some cases as young as 10, were recruited and used as combatants, or in support functions such as porters and cooks. Girls were reportedly used as sex slaves or were victims of other forms of sexual violence.

In Iraq and Syria, the advances by IS and the proliferation of armed groups have made children even more vulnerable to recruitment. Children as young as 12, are undergoing military training and have been used as informants, to patrol, to man checkpoints and to guard strategic locations. In some cases, they have been used as suicide bombers and to carry out executions.

About the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers
The International Day against the Use of Child was initiated in 2002 when the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict entered into force on February 12, 2002. This protocol was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in May 2000 and has been ratified by 159 states.

UNI17828510years south sudan

A child soldier of 10 years of age -South Sudan (UNICEF)

Government forces recruit children in South Sudan

Despite a recent peace deal between the warring factions in South Sudan that had fostered hope of a definitive end to the year-long conflict, attacks against civilians persist.


A child soldier of 9 years of age -South Sudan (UNICEF)

According to the UN, armed groups raided a school on Saturday and seized 89 children.

The abduction occurred near Malakal, where thousands of people have taken refuge.

The kidnappers conducted house-to-house searches, according to UNICEF.

Many countries are actively involved in conflict and we should not forget the other countries who produce the weapons and so are engaged by proxy. What words can we tell our children why so many countries maintain their wealth by peddling misery?

Quality and Inequality – Blog Action Day 2014

Yes it is Blog Action Day 2014.




Lets start with a vid:


Why quality? I am thinking about the quality of education -how it is denied to so many children and how good quality education could improve the chances of many and thus reduce inequalities.


Gender inequality


Food and inequality..

Only now are we considering taking malnutrition seriously :

some facts:

More than three million children under the age of five die annually of malnutrition, the UN food agency and World Health Organisation said on Thursday, urging governments to tackle the problem.

“Malnutrition is responsible for about half of all child deaths under five years of age, causing over three million deaths every year,” the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said.

Some 162 million children are left stunted by chronic malnutrition and 99 million children are underweight across the world, it added.

Since the first international conference on nutrition in 1992, “important advances in the fight against hunger and malnutrition have been made, but this progress has been insufficient and uneven,” FAO head Jose Graziano da Silva said.

There has only been a 17 percent reduction in undernourishment since the early 1990s, leaving over 840 million people still chronically undernourished.

The FAO and WHO urged governments to “make stronger commitments… to ensure healthier diets for all” at an international conference on nutrition to be held in Rome in November.

They warned that various forms of malnutrition often overlap and can coexist within the same country and even within the same household.

“Around 160 million children under five are stunted or chronically malnourished, while over two billion people suffer one or more micronutrient deficiencies,” they said in a statement.

“At the same time, another half billion are obese.”

WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said the aim of the upcoming conference was to get governments to ask themselves “why is it that severe undernutrition and obesity can exist side by side in the same country and in the same community?”

She also called for more research into the health and environmental implications of “the rapid rise in the demand for meat and other animal products that coincides with rising income levels.”

Efforts to improve food and nutrition security continue to be hampered by low political commitment and weak institutional arrangements, the agencies said.


Inequalities abound – who gets water, shelter, access to nutritious food, quality education and health services seem to be dependent on where you were born -or is it more to do with power relationships?

Although I enjoy studying history, the rationale for studying history is spelt out as ‘so that we can learn from the past’ If this is correct , why do we continue to make the same mistakes whether it is to do with conflicts (Wars etc) or distribution of resources ? The strong (politics or wealth related) seem to always have the upper hand and inequalities seem to have to exist, otherwise the powerful lose their strength.

Quality and Inequality

UNICEF has provided food for thought when considering quality dimensions of education:

Children have a right to an education, a quality education.
Quality education includes:
Learners who are healthy, well-nourished and ready to participate and learn, and
supported in learning by their families and communities;

Environments that are healthy, safe, protective and gender-sensitive, and provide
adequate resources and facilities;

Content that is reflected in relevant curricula and materials for the acquisition ofbasic skills, especially in the areas of literacy, numeracy and skills for life, and knowledge in such areas as gender, health, nutrition, HIV/AIDS prevention and peace.

Processes through which trained teachers use child-centred teaching approaches in
well-managed classrooms and schools and skilful assessment to facilitate learning
and reduce disparities.
Outcomes that encompass knowledge, skills and attitudes, and are linked to
national goals for education and positive participation in society.
This definition allows for an understanding of education as a complex system embedded in a political, cultural and economic context.

In all aspects of the school and its surrounding education community, the
rights of the whole child, and all children, to survival, protection,
development and participation are at the centre. This means that the focus is
on learning which strengthens the capacities of children to act progressively
on their own behalf through the acquisition of relevant knowledge, useful
skills and appropriate attitudes; and which creates for children, and helps
them create for themselves and others, places of safety, security and healthy
interaction. (Bernard, 1999)

I wonder how far this definition can be applied to areas of conflict where children are often either used in conflicts (e.g. child soldiers) or their schools become targets of aggression or they become ‘collateral damage’ in civil wars.

CRIN has reported on recent documentation of some of the recent misuse and abuse of children:

Attacks on education

Targeting schools and schoolchildren is a grave violation of children’s rights. Even in times of war, schools and hospitals must remain safe places for children to learn and develop.

But in Sanaa, Yemen’s capital, children have been forced to study outside school buildings since 21 September when rebels took control of the city and occupied a number of schools, after a few days of brief but bloody fighting.

The Houthis, Shiite rebels, now control almost all state buildings, from the airport and the central bank to the Ministry of Defence.

The Houthis have fought the Yemeni government forces and pro-government tribal fighters through six rounds of fighting since 2004 from their stronghold in Saada, north of Sanaa. In 2011, they took complete control of Saada province.

Their takeover of the capital threatens to provoke a violent backlash from Sunni militants belonging to al-Qaeda. Last week, an al-Qaeda suicide bomber rammed an explosives-laden car into a hospital used by the Houthis, killing one person. The group, known as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, vowed to fight the rebels and called on other Sunnis for support.

A suicide bomber struck again on Thursday, killing at least 42 people,including several children, apparently targeting a Houthi checkpoint. No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks. The death toll was expected to climb further, with many of those wounded in serious or critical condition.

The Houthis have signed an agreement to end the fighting, mediated by UN envoy Jamal Benomar. The accord stipulates the withdrawal of their forces from Sanaa once a new prime minister is named. But president Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi has so far failed to name the new premier.

In Syria, at least 39 people, 30 of whom were children between six and nine-years-old, were killed in twin bombings outside a primary school in the government-controlled city of Homs last week, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The blasts happened as the children were leaving the school, said an official from Homs.

The UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, condemned the bombings and called on all parties to the conflict to end such attacks and for perpetrators to be brought to justice.

According to Ms. Zerrougui’s office, attacks on schools and hospitals have become a feature of the Syrian conflict and deprive millions of children of their right to education and health.

Since 2011, over three million children have dropped out of school and thousands of schools inside Syria have closed their doors because they have been destroyed, damaged, or are now used for military purposes or as shelter for families forced to abandon their homes.

Also on Syria, an American-led intervention targeting the Islamic State was launched last month. Human Rights Watch reported a US missile strike that killed at least two men, two women, and five children, urging the US government to investigate the attack for possible violations of the laws of war.

Legal battle over the recruitment of children in the UK

The UK is one of just 19 countries in the world – and the only country in the European Union – that still recruits 16-year-olds into its armed forces. The others include Bangladesh, El Salvador, Iran, and North Korea.

Child Soldiers International (CSI) will call  for a judicial review into the terms of enlistment for minors joining the British Army.

Although minors have a right to be discharged before their 18th birthday, after this point the so-called “Catch-22” clause commits them to serve until they are at least 22 years old, regardless of their age when they joined. This means the youngest recruits have to serve for longest. Lawyers acting for CSI claim this constitutes unlawful age discrimination in employment conditions.

Call for perpetrators of grave crimes to be brought to justice

A group of human rights organisations* urged the International Criminal Court (ICC) to send investigators to the Central African Republic (CAR), and called on the UN peacekeeping mission to help set up a special court in the country.

CAR’s President, Catherine Samba-Panza, officially asked the ICC in June to launch an investigation into crimes committed in her country since 2012.

In August, the UN and the CAR government signed a memorandum of understanding to create a Special Criminal Court (CCS) with both international and Central African judges. But the court can only be set up after CAR’s transitional parliament (CNT) passes a specific law.

CAR has been in a state of crisis since Seleka rebels seized power in 2013 in a campaign marked by widespread killing, looting and destruction. In mid-2013, groups of so-called ‘anti-balaka’ (anti-machete) organised to fight the Seleka, committing grave atrocities, with accounts of ethnic cleansing reported earlier this year.

The violence in CAR has forced about one million people to flee their homes. Most Muslims now live in Seleka-controlled areas in the north and east of the country, creating a de facto partition.

Elections meant to complete a return to democracy are due to be held in February. But amid continuing violence, officials in the country believe the polls will be delayed.

*The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Central African Human Rights League (LCDH) and Central African Human Rights Monitor (OCDH).

Unexploded ordnance kills two children in Ukraine

Two children were killed and five were injured in rebel-controlled eastern Ukraine last week when they tried to move an unexploded shell. The incident late Friday occurred in Zugres, a town about 30 kilometres east of Donetsk, the largest city controlled by pro-Russian separatists.

Children are particularly vulnerable to landmines, cluster munitions and unexploded ordnance in a number of ways. These devices sometimes look like toys and children are likely to pick them up out of curiosity. The Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor reports that since 2004 explosive munitions left behind during armed conflicts have been shown to consistently cause the greatest percentage of child casualties in 31 countries (64%) (See footnote no.5 for the list of countries).

Children attacked on all fronts in Afghanistan

The victims of the current Afghan conflict are primarily children. According to the UN Secretary General’s Report on Children and Armed Conflict, in 2013, more than 1,700 children were among the 3,000 civilian casualties- a 34 percent increase from 2012.

As reported by a spokesman for UNICEF in Afghanistan, the UN has documented 97 cases in which combatants recruited children, some as young as eight.

A report by Al Jazeera tells the story of Moheb, 12, who was forced to become a suicide bomber by his uncle, a Taliban commander. His uncle forced him to wear a suicide vest last year and instructed him on how to blow himself up next to a convoy of foreign troops. He was thrown out of his home when he failed to ‘accomplish’ his mission. He now lives in a government-run orphanage.

The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) said that although officially there are no children in the Afghan army and police, they continue to be recruited by local authorities because of inappropriate recruitment mechanisms. Read the full story.

US military aid to governments using children as soldiers

The US passed a groundbreaking law in 2008 that prohibits the country from giving several forms of military assistance to governments using child soldiers. Its intention was to use a powerful incentive – withholding US military training, funding, and weapons – to influence governments to stop using children in their military forces.

The Obama administration identified nine countries this year where children are still recruited, but announced that only three would be barred from US military assistance. For the other six, Obama used his presidential authority to give partial or complete waivers.

Yemen, for instance, may receive $25 million in US military financing in 2015, with no strings attached. The country signed a UN agreement in May to end its use of child soldiers, but is a long way from eliminating the problem.

For Somalia, where the UN documented nearly 1,300 cases of child recruitment in 2013, including hundreds by the Somali National Army and its allied militias, the administration gave Somalia a full waiver as well, allowing it to receive  $115 million.

In an analysis of this year’s waiver of the law, Jo Becker, Children’s Rights Advocacy Director at Human Rights Watch, notes that the administration’s actions should match the words of its ambassador to the UN pronounced in a meeting of the UN Security Council on children and armed conflict two weeks ago: “perpetrators have to be held accountable. Groups that fail to change their behavior must be hit where it hurts.”

Not a single child untouched by the recent Gaza conflict

According to Makarim Wibisono, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, there is not a single child who has not been adversely affected by the recent conflict in Gaza, where children suffer from bedwetting, difficulties sleeping, nightmares, a loss of appetite, and display more aggressive behaviour at school.

At the end of his first mission to the region, Wibisono expressed alarm at the terrible cost paid by Palestinian civilians, especially children in Gaza, as a result of Israel’s military operation that lasted 50 days in the summer of this year.

According to a press release on his findings, the latest round of violence from 7 July to 26 August 2014 has left 1,479 civilians dead, including 506 children. He added that 11,231 Palestinian civilians, including 3,436 children were injured, many of whom are now struggling with life-long disabilities. Tens of thousands of children live with the trauma of having witnessed the horrific killings of family members, friends, and neighbours before their own eyes.

“In the 50 days of relentless bombing and shelling, 228 schools in Gaza were damaged, including 26 destroyed or damaged beyond repair,”according to the press release.

Thousands killed in South Sudan

Thousands have been killed and nearly two million have fled their homes since the war broke out last December in South Sudan. Oxfam and other agencies have warned that an expected upsurge in violence could wipe out recent gains in food security and push the number of hungry people up by a million in the first three months of 2015.

Nearly 100,000 people are crammed into UN compounds across the country for their own protection, often in inhumane and unsanitary conditions.

At present, 5,660 children have been registered as missing in South Sudan and only 393 reunited with their families.

What began as a political power struggle last December quickly assumed an ethnic dimension, pitting President Salva Kiir’s Dinka tribe against militia forces from the former vice-president Riek Machar’s Nuer people.

Economic self-interest is also fuelling the conflict. A report last month by the Enough Project noted: “The country’s competing privileged elites are sacrificing their own people’s lives to secure the political and economic benefits – including massive state-corroding corruption – derived from control of the state.”

So  inequality between groups, tribes, political and religious affiliations, means that children, who are once again the ‘powerless’ have to suffer.

For Blog Action Day:

  • Follow the live coverage on October 16 and 17Visit our website or our Facebook page  and take a look at the  posts that grab your attention.
  • Search for #BAD2014,  #Inequality #BlogAction14 on social media and “Blog Action Day” on google to connect with other Blog Action Day participants.

Focus on Children’s Rights – Blog Action Day


Children’s rights are the human rights of children with particular attention to the rights of special protection and care afforded to minors, including their right to association with both parents, human identity as well as the basic needs for food, universal state-paid education, health care and criminal laws appropriate for the age and development of the child, equal protection of the child’s civil rights, and freedom from discrimination on the basis of the child’s race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, religion,disability, color, ethnicity, or other characteristics. Interpretations of children’s rights range from allowing children the capacity for autonomous action to the enforcement of children being physically, mentally and emotionally free from abuse, though what constitutes “abuse” is a matter of debate.

Other definitions include the rights to care and nurturing.

(From Wikipedia)


The United Nations’ 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, or CRC, is the first legally binding international instrument to incorporate the full range of human rights—civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. Its implementation is monitored by the Committee on the Rights of the Child. National governments that ratify it commit themselves to protecting and ensuring children’s rights, and agree to hold themselves accountable for this commitment before the international community.

My concern is that no matter how many nations (over 190)  have signed up for the CRC, children are still being beaten, humiliated, abused sexually and verbally, excluded and generally having a bad time, just trying to get some sort of education, no matter how poor the quality and how low their achievement at the end.

Where are their rights and where are the defenders of their rights?

check out the Human Rights Watch page on children’s rights:

Photography’s power to advocate for children and their rights:

Watch a presentation that celebrates and reflects on the role of photography in advocating for children’s rights.

For more information, visit:

Please note that in some cases photography can intrude, humiliate and reduce dignity. Children are rarely asked if their pictures can be used for publicity. Things are changing and parents should now provide approval for images of their children to be used. However in emergency situations, this is often difficult. We have to trust UNICEF photographers that they will be sensitive to the rights of children to have privacy and dignity and not to produce images that could humiliate or intrude.


Take a look at the publications listed by the Child Rights International Network (CRIN)


Some child rights  images from Steve McCurry


A new practical teaching/learning resource via Human Rights Education Association (HREA)


HREA announces the release of Human Total: A Violence Prevention Learning Resource, a new manual created by HREA, the International Center for Alcohol Policies (ICAP) and the Instituto Mexicano de Investigación Familia y de Población (IMIFAP).

“Adolescence is an ideal time to promote attitudes and behaviours that prevent interpersonal violence. Human Total is the first resource to blend life skills with human rights education” says HREA’s Founder and Senior Advisor, Felisa Tibbitts, who helped prepare the pilot draft of the manual.

Human Total will be a vital resource for students, educators and parents. Targeted towards young people between the ages of 10 and 14, the manual helps learners understand attitudes that promote violent behaviour (often brought about by the misuse of alcohol) by males and cultivates methods to minimise these behaviours’ harms and prevent their perpetuation.

Human Total contains 32 adaptable lesson plans, including ways to recognise and understand violence in social contexts and techniques for minimising violence through education about human rights and active participation in the community. The manual also features a note for facilitators on how to use it, tools for outreach to parents and guardians, recommendations for additional resources, and eight annexes with supplemental information. The resource was piloted in El Salvador and Kenya.

Human Total: A Violence Prevention Learning Resource is currently available in English and will soon be available in Spanish.



The UK chapter of Amnesty International has organised a 

Children’s Human Rights network

Are you interested in discussing children’s rights issues with other Amnesty supporters? Would you like to see how the network work on children’s rights abuses? Would you like more information on children’s rights campaigns?

  • Visit the blog, a new forum for discussion on children’s rights and for updates on children’s rights
  • Take action against children’s rights abuses by writing emails, letters and faxes from our actions page.
  • For resources and materials on the latest in children’s rights work from other Amnesty sections and international organisations, please see the resources page.

And a resource for literacy:

Engage students in literacy across the curriculum as they discover the power of writing letters for people whose rights and lives are at risk.
Download your free packAnd for Human Rights Education at Secondary level

Eight human rights lessons linked to curriculum areas including maths, languages, drama and more. Perfect for drop down days, theme weeks, and to address human rights across the curriculum. Order your free copy

Children and Discrimination – CRIN’s excellent website and toolkit

CRIN (Children’s Rights International Network)  has established an excellent website and toolkit on children and discrimination.

The aims of the site are:

  • promote understanding of how discrimination affects all children’s rights
  • shed light on age discrimination against children
  • support the removal of barriers to all children’s inclusion


Discrimination involves treating an individual or a group of people unfairly in comparison to others because of who they are, or their circumstances.

The right to non-discrimination is a well-established human rights principle and one of the four over-arching principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). This means that all children should enjoy all rights set out in the CRC. For any right to be realised, children must not be discriminated against.

The UN Human Rights Committee defines discrimination as:

“any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference which is based on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status and which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by all persons, on an equal footing, of all rights and freedoms.” (General Comment 18) Read more about definitions here.

Discrimination may be deliberate and intended, or unintentional. 

Although there has been significant work on this topic, the wide range of ways in which children experience different forms of discrimination has not been sufficiently explored or challenged. 

Why a toolkit on non-discrimination? 

Looking at rights violations through the lens of discrimination helps to expose prejudices and beliefs that may have led to unfair treatment – whether such treatment was intentional or otherwise. It can create new means of challenging negative actions, whether through law, policy, education or practice.

So, for example, by understanding that the corporal punishment of children, if legal within a given State, constitutes discrimination on the basis of age (an adult smacking another adult can be prosecuted for battery), it helps us to think about the issue in a different way. 

What is it about children that makes us think it is acceptable to hit them, but not adults – or even animals! Are there other ways in which this discriminatory view of children affects how we behave towards them? Why is discrimination towards other groups of people, for example ethnic minorities, normally considered unacceptable, yet sanctioned by the State when it comes to children?

The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) has non-discrimination as a core right for children. CRIN has made a detailed analysis of this right and how it relates to the other articles of the CRC:

Guide to non-discrimination and the CRC       Download in pdf

Challenging discrimination

Challenging discrimination against children requires a range of strategies which cover many different areas and are rightfully tailored to account for the particular situation of children in their countries.

Nevertheless, successful efforts will include certain key components. These include: changing legislation, policy, attitudes, as well as the physical environment and the allocation of resources that perpetuate inequalities and discrimination, providing channels for children’s participation, collecting data, and establishing mechanisms to monitor and report discrimination.

The pages that follow provide some guidance on these diverse areas and examples of how discrimination has been successfully challenged.






Advocacy examples

More information 

Other international instruments addressing discrimination include, among others:

International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD, 1965)

UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW, 1979)

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2008)

UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Inter-American Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities

UN Human Rights Committee, General Comment No. 18 on Non-discrimination (1989)

UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: Draft General Comment on Discrimination and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (2009)


You may also like to view the website on the Children’s Rights Alliance as well as UNICEF


Check also the Children’s Rights Wiki:

NEW Children’s Rights Wiki

  • brings together all information about children’s rights in one place
  • highlights persistent violations
  • inspires collective action

Children and armed conflict – review of 2010 (CRIN)

CRIN (Child Rights Information Network) has published a review of the main children and armed conflict stories of 2010.

2010 saw a big push for universal ratification of the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on armed conflict and sexual exploitation. Read details of the UN’s campaign. The UN Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, has published an article on the campaign in the International Journal on Children’s Rights.

The campaign seemed to boost ratifications to Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict as eight more States committed in 2010: Republic of Congo, Cyprus, Gabon, Georgia, Guyana, Hungary, Malawi and Seychelles.

In 2010, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child issued recommendations on the OPAC reports of Bosnia and Herzegovina,EcuadorIsraelLiechtensteinMongoliaMontenegroNicaragua,PolandSierra LeoneSri LankaSudan and Turkey.

Negotiations on the planned overhaul of the UN Security Councilcontinued. At issue are categories of membership, the veto system, regional representation, the possibility of an enlarged Council and the relationship between the Council and the UN General Assembly. Full story.

report by Turtle Bay examined the murky side of reform, examining how even the physical layout of the building had led to greater secrecy of the body by limiting contact with the media.

However, the UN Security Council acted strongly against sexual violence in 2010, passing a resolution in December to name and shame individuals and parties to armed conflict that are “credibly suspected” of committing rape or other forms of sexual violence. The resolution was passed on the heels of the UN’s harrowing report on mass rape in the eastern Congo in July and August 2010. Download the report.

The UN has toughened up on sexual violence in recent years, with the Security Council passing resolutions 1325 and 1820 on the issue and, in February last year, the UN Secretary-General appointedMargot Wallstrom as the first ever Special Representive on Sexual Violence.

Meanwhile, justice at the International Criminal Court (ICC) took a step backwards as the trial of Thomas Lubanga for the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict was suspended. At issue was the refusal by the prosecution to disclose an intermediary’s identity to the defence. Controversy over the disclosure of names and evidence is ongoing. Full story.

The first ever review of the ICC’s work was held in June to evaluate the Court’s impact so far and discuss proposed amendments to the Rome Statute. A key development included the adoption of a resolution by States Parties to strengthen the enforcement of sentences. Provisions setting out the terms of the Court’s ability to investigate and prosecute individuals for the crime of aggression were also accepted. Full story.

In a further bid to strengthen protection of civilians from the effects of armed conflict, a new international Convention on Cluster Munitions entered into force in August. The Convention, which bans the production and use of cluster munitions and obliges States to compensate victims, does not include some of the biggest stockpilers among its adherents. Full story.

And finally, in September, Valerie Amos of the United Kingdom, took office as the the new Head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The Under-Secretary General, appointed by UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, is responsible for overseeing all UN humanitarian emergenices. The appointment practices of Ban Ki-Moon have, however, been widely criticised. He has been accused of giving key positions to big donor countries and awarding posts based on political motivations rather than experience.Full story. CRIN will continue to report on appointment processes of key children’s rights positions in 2011.


CRIN keeps an update on the situation in many countries -examples are listed below:

Country snapshots

Below are some key news stories and reports from some of the countries affected by armed conflict. For updates on other countries, visit our A-Z of country pages.

A mid-year report on the protection of civilians in armed conflict published by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, revealed that the number of children killed in conflict in Afghanistan had risen 55 per cent from the previous year.

On a positive note, the Afghan government has set up a committee to deal with serious violations of children’s rights in the country.

In December, the government announced that 3,000 children had been discharged from the Afghan National Army and police force after the UN sent a letter to the government about their presence. Officials say the children will now receive training and education in other fields. Full story. Recruitment of children into the police force was banned in April. Full story.

An Amnesty International report detailed abuses against indigenous peoples by guerrilla groups, security forces and paramilitaries in Colombia. Survival International warned that 34 groups face extinction as a result of violence on their land. Full story.

National newspaper “El Tiempo” reported that Colombia’s Justice and Peace Commission is investigating over 200 cases of minors recruited by paramilitary group the United Self-Defence Forces (AUC), with reports of 2,700 cases in total. Full story.

Democratic Republic of Congo
The United Nations released a long-awaited report on “indescribable” atrocities committed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) from 1993 to 2003, when tens of thousands of people were killed, and numerous others raped and mutilated by both armed Congolese groups and foreign military forces. Download the report.

Reports were also released on the extent of sexual violence in the country by Oxfam and Amnesty International among others.

Recruitment of children into armed groups continues apace. Read more here and here.

However, in December, the UN Security Council imposed sanctions against Colonel Innocent Zimurinda of the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) for abuses against children. Full story in

In March, doctors in Fallujah reported a spurt in birth defects resulting from weapons used by the US after the invasion. Full story.

WikiLeaks released war logs claiming that a British rifleman shot dead an eight-year-old girl in Iraq while she was playing. Submissions published by WikiLeaks also document concerns by US forces about the increase in the use of children as potential terrorists.

Many Palestinian children were unlawfully arrested last year, especially children from east Jerusalem. Full story.

In March, Defence for Children International and Human Rights Watch published reports on the use of children as human shields. Two Israeli soldiers have been charged after a complaint was filed by DCI although DCI remains concerned that the charges are too lenient.

Also read a report on the impact of forced displacement in high risk areas.

Kashmir (India and Pakistan)
There were protests in Indian-administered Kashmir in February over the killing of a 15-year-old boy by a police tear-gas round aimed at dispersing a protest against Indian rule. Full story.

In March, two children were wounded in “unprovoked firing” by Indian forces across the de facto border dividing the disputed region, according to Pakistani officials. Full story.

Read the UN Secretary General’s country report.

The UN Secretary General published a report on the situation of children in armed conflict in the Philippines in January.

In March, a children’s rights group filed a complaint before the National Commission on Human Rights against the military for the torture of three minors who the military accused of belonging to the New People’s Army (NPA). Full story.

In June, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights heard that in Peru, terrorist group the Shining Path continues to use children in its activities in a hearing presented by the Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos (CNDDHH) with support from Save the Children. The recruitment of children into the Peruvian Armed Forces was also under discussion. Read the full report here (in Spanish).

The UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, Shamsui Bari, on a visit to the country, declared: “many children and young people risk being recruited by armed groups and used in the front lines and [where] there are generations who have known nothing but violence and conflict.”

The UN Secretary General issued a full report on children and armed conflict in Somalia in November.

Sri Lanka
The Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict and the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers issued a joint briefing on children affected by armed conflict in Sri Lanka in March. The report was published in response to a report by a Special Envoy of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict to Sri Lanka.Download the report.

In August, a panel investigating war crimes in Sri Lanka opened. Journalists’ coverage of the investigation into the final phase of the armed conflict has been restricted. Full story.

A ceasefire agreement signed early in the year between the Government of Sudan and the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) contained provisions to protect children involved in the conflict. In August, the army in Southern Sudan pledged to demobilise all child soldiers by the end of the year. The country’s future remains uncertain ahead of the referendum on whether to split the country in two taking place this week. Full story.

In June, political protests in Thailand came to a head after a two-month stand-off. Allegations of children being exploited were made on both sides. Full story.

United Kingdom
A group of NGOs is calling for a change in the law to end the practice of recruiting 16 and 17-year-olds into the armed forces. The second reading of the Armed Forces Bill will be presented to the House of Commons this week. Read a briefing on the issue by the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers.

United States of America
In December, the US administration caused outrage by backtracking on its commitment to end the recruitment of children into armed forces in certain countries in order to strengthen military cooperation, according to Human Rights Watch. President Obama waived the application of section 404 (a) of the Child Soldiers Prevention Act 2008 for Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan and Yemen. The law prohibits all forms of defence-related assistance to countries that actively recruit troops under the age of 18.

The only remaining restrictions apply to Myanmar and Somalia. Full story.

In November, Omar Khadr, who was captured at the age of 15 in Afghanistan and held in Guantanamo Bay for eight years, was sentenced to eight years for war crimes. He will serve his sentence in his homeland, Canada. Full story.

Ongoing fighting in the northern provinces of Saada and Amran in Yemen is taking its toll on children. Read about children’s situation in a report by Seyaj for Childhood Protection.



UN: Committee on the Rights of the Child releases Concluding Observations for Session 54

CRIN (Child Rights Information Network) has included this update on the Committee on the Rights of the Child ,in their recent newsletter:

UN: Committee on the Rights of the Child releases Concluding Observations for Session 54

Date: 16/06/2010
Organisation: UN OHCHR – Committee on the Rights of the Child
Resource type: CRC News


On the 11th June 2010, the Committee on the Rights of the Child released their Concluding Observations for the countries examined during the course of the 54th Session.


To access the Concluding Observations for the countries examined in the 54th Session, click on the individual country below:

Countries examined on the CRC:

Argentina   Belgium   FYR of Macedonia   Grenada  

Japan   Nigeria   Tunisia   Guatemala*


Countries examined on the OPSC:

Argentina   Belgium   Colombia   FYR of Macedonia

Japan   Serbia

Countries examined on the OPAC:

Argentina   Colombia   Japan   Serbia

FYR of Macedonia

To access the alternative reports submitted by NGOs for the 54th Session, click  here

For further information on the 54th session, click on the links below:

Organisation Contact Details:

UN OHCHR – Committee on the Rights of the Child
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
CH 1211 Geneva 10
Tel: +41 22 917 9000