Provide children with the opportunity to be heard
Most children do not realize that they actually have rights. They also do not realise that these rights are provided for them under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, 16 December 1991, which was signed (‘ratified’) by 192 countries, more than any other human rights treaty in history.
Built on varied legal systems and cultural traditions, the Convention is a universally agreed set of non-negotiable standards and obligations. These basic standards or human rights set minimum entitlements and freedom that should be respected by governments. They are founded on respect for the dignity and worth of each individual – regardless of race, colour, gender, language, religion, opinions, origins, wealth, birth status or ability and therefore apply to every human being everywhere. With these rights comes the obligation on both governments and individuals not to infringe on the rights of others. These standards are both interdependent and invisible; we cannot ensure some rights without or at the expense of other rights.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the first legally binding international instrument to incorporate the full range of human rights civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. In 1989, world leaders decided that children needed a special convention just for them because people under 18 years old often need special care and protection that adults do not. The leaders also wanted to make sure that the world recognized that children have human rights too.
The Convention sets out these rights in 54 articles and two Optional Protocols. It spells out the basic human rights that children everywhere have; the right to survival; to develop to the fullest; protection from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation; and to participate fully in family, cultural and social life. The four core principles of the Convention are non-discrimination; devotion to the best interests of the child; the right to live, survival and development; and respect for the views of the child. Every right spelt out in the Convention is inherent to the human dignity and harmonious development of every child. The Convention protects children’s rights by setting standards in health care; education, and legal, civil and social services.
By agreeing to undertake the obligations of the Convention (by ratifying or acceding to it), national governments have committed themselves to protecting and ensuring children’s rights and they hav agreed to hold themselves accountable for this commitment before the international community. States parties to the Convention are obliged to develop and undertake all actions and policies in the light of the best interests of the child.
Everyone should know about their rights under Child Rights Convention (CRC).
In 54 articles, the CRC establishes in international law that governments must ensure that all children – without discrimination in any form benefit from special protection measures and assistance; have access to services such as education and health care; can develop their personalities, abilities and talents to the fullest potential; grow up in an environment of happiness, love and understanding; and are informed about and participate in achieving their rights in an accessible and active manner.
The great philosopher Socrates once said, “I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance.”
Yes, many of us are guilty of being ignorant of what is happening around us today. We are ignorant of the injustice and exploitation that surrounds us daily. But we can free ourselves from this ignorance by educating ourselves on what is wrong or right. Beginning this issue, we will highlight the Rights of Children as spelt out under the CRC to create awareness and to prompt others into taking active measures to safeguard the rights of children. So be sure to get all four issues of our newsletter for 2010 as well.
Do not forget also to get a copy of SHELTER’s Calendar for 2010 which highlights 12 Articles on Children’s Rights.