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 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.
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