As human beings, childrenformally defined as those under the age of eighteen--are entitled to all the rights guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the various treaties that have developed from it. UNICEF, an organization devoted specifically to the rights of children, reminds us that while governments must be sensitive to the rights of all their citizens, there are strong reasons for making a special case for children's rights. Namely that the healthy development of children is crucial to the future well-being of any society and that the costs to society of failing its children are huge. Also, children start life as totally dependent beings, needing special protection and care. They must be able to turn on the adult world to defend their rights and to help them to develop and realize their potential. As Marian Wright Edelman states, "There are millions of children who are depending on usfor protection, for guidance, for the basic necessities." Under the broad umbrella of protecting the right of children to have a fair and healthy start in life, many interconnected issues must be addressedissues of healthcare, issues of education and literacy, as well as issues of race and class equalities.
In 1959, the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child set up an initial framework for childrens rights, but it was not legally enforceable at the time. In 1989, the Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted by the UN General Assembly. This Convention deals not only with childrens rights, but with the responsibility of the child to respect the basic rights of others in their family and community. According to UNICEF, it has become the most universally accepted human rights instrument in history. It has been ratified by every country in the world except twothe United States and Somalia. It is also the first legally binding international instrument dealing specifically with children to incorporate the full range of human rights from civil and political rights to economic, social and cultural rights.
Sources: Amnesty International, the Childrens Defense Fund, and UNICEF
A Bullet Can't Kill a Dream:
The Kids Campaign to Build A School for Iqbal
Amnesty International Human Rights Network:
Campaigns for the rights of the child.
Provides news related to childrens rights in Latin America, a searchable database on bibliographies, and press information.
Centre for Europes Children:
Information site for Europeans childrens rights and related policies.
Child Rights Information Network:
Comprehensive site covering many issues relating to childrens rights.
Childrens Defense Fund:
The mission of the Children's Defense Fund is to "Leave No Child Behind."This site provides information on child care, health care, education, and the needs of underserved children.
Free the Children:
International organization run by children and teenagers that empowers young people to address issues related to childrens rights.
Friends of Children:
Promotes public awareness of child sexual abuse.
Soldier Child International:
Organization providing relief to children who have been abducted and forced into being a child soldier in northern Uganda.
Stop the Use of Child Soldiers:
Ongoing campaign run by Human Rights Watch protesting the use of child soldiers. Includes news, reports, and interviews dealing with child soldiers.
Advocates and works for the protection of childrens rights.
Working Group on Girls:
Organization that tracks the efforts of governments to improve the lives of girls.
Child Labor Organization Links:
Child Labor Coalition:
Organization that promotes the safety, education and well-being of working minors.
Child Workers in Asia
Information about child labor issues in Southeast Asia.
International Child Labor Program:
Part of the US Department of Labors Bureau of International Labor Affairs, the ICLP compiles reports on international child labor and administers grants to organizations seeking to eliminate child labor.
Rugmark Foundation USA:
Non-profit organization working to eradicate child labor around the globe.
Photographs by David Parker, MD, MPH of children working in a variety of occupations worldwide.
Bibliography and Publication Links:
Press releases and reports on human rights issues and children.
By the Sweat and Toil of Children: Volume V
Report provided by International Child Labor Program.
Convention on the Rights of the Child:
UN treaty adopted by General Assembly on November 20, 1989 and entered into force on September 2, 1990. Includes a link to "status of ratifications."
Human Rights Internet reports and articles:
Collection of resources related to childrens rights maintained by Human Rights Internet.
Listings of comprehensive reports on childrens rights.
World Organization Against Torture:
Country by country reports on the rights of the child.