a summary of the un convention on the rights of the child

A summary of the UN Convention
on the Rights of the Child
Article 1 (definition of the child)
Everyone under the age of 18 has all the
rights in the Convention.
Article 2 (non-discrimination)
The Convention applies to every child
without discrimination, whatever their
ethnicity, gender, religion, language,
abilities or any other status, whatever
they think or say, whatever their family
Article 3 (best interests of the child)
The best interests of the child must be a
top priority in all decisions and actions that
affect children.
Article 4 (implementation of
the Convention)
Governments must do all they can to make
sure every child can enjoy their rights by
creating systems and passing laws that
promote and protect children’s rights.
Article 5 (parental guidance and a
child’s evolving capacities)
Governments must respect the rights and
responsibilities of parents and carers to
provide guidance and direction to their
child as they grow up, so that they fully
enjoy their rights. This must be done in a
way that recognises the child’s increasing
capacity to make their own choices.
Article 6 (life, survival and development)
Every child has the right to life.
Governments must do all they can to
ensure that children survive and develop to
their full potential.
Article 7 (birth registration, name,
nationality, care)
Every child has the right to be registered at
birth, to have a name and nationality, and,
as far as possible, to know and be cared
for by their parents.
Article 8 (protection and preservation
of identity)
Every child has the right to an identity.
Governments must respect and protect
that right, and prevent the child’s name,
nationality or family relationships from
being changed unlawfully.
Article 9 (separation from parents)
Children must not be separated from their
parents against their will unless it is in their
best interests (for example, if a parent is
hurting or neglecting a child). Children
whose parents have separated have the
right to stay in contact with both parents,
unless this could cause them harm.
Article 10 (family reunification)
Governments must respond quickly and
sympathetically if a child or their parents
apply to live together in the same country.
If a child’s parents live apart in different
countries, the child has the right to visit
and keep in contact with both of them.
Article 11 (abduction and non-return
of children)
Governments must do everything they can
to stop children being taken out of their
own country illegally by their parents or
other relatives, or being prevented from
returning home.
Article 12 (respect for the views
of the child)
Every child has the right to express their
views, feelings and wishes in all matters
affecting them, and to have their views
considered and taken seriously. This right
applies at all times, for example during
immigration proceedings, housing decisions
or the child’s day-to-day home life.
Article 13 (freedom of expression)
Every child must be free to express their
thoughts and opinions and to access all
kinds of information, as long as it is within
the law.
Article 14 (freedom of thought,
belief and religion)
Every child has the right to think and
believe what they choose and also to
practise their religion, as long as they are
not stopping other people from enjoying
their rights. Governments must respect
the rights and responsibilities of parents to
guide their child as they grow up.
Article 15 (freedom of association)
Every child has the right to meet with
other children and to join groups and
organisations, as long as this does not stop
other people from enjoying their rights.
Article 16 (right to privacy)
Every child has the right to privacy. The law
should protect the child’s private, family
and home life, including protecting children
from unlawful attacks that harm their
Article 17 (access to information
from the media)
Every child has the right to reliable
information from a variety of sources,
and governments should encourage the
media to provide information that children
can understand. Governments must help
protect children from materials that could
harm them.
Article 18 (parental responsibilities
and state assistance)
Both parents share responsibility for
bringing up their child and should always
consider what is best for the child.
Governments must support parents by
creating support services for children and
giving parents the help they need to raise
their children.
Article 19 (protection from violence,
abuse and neglect)
Governments must do all they can to
ensure that children are protected from all
forms of violence, abuse, neglect and bad
treatment by their parents or anyone else
who looks after them.
Article 20 (children unable to live
with their family)
If a child cannot be looked after by
their immediate family, the government
must give them special protection and
assistance. This includes making sure
the child is provided with alternative care
that is continuous and respects the child’s
culture, language and religion.
Article 21 (adoption)
Governments must oversee the process of
adoption to make sure it is safe, lawful and
that it prioritises children’s best interests.
Children should only be adopted outside of
their country if they cannot be placed with
a family in their own country.
Article 22 (refugee children)
If a child is seeking refuge or has refugee
status, governments must provide them
with appropriate protection and assistance
to help them enjoy all the rights in the
Convention. Governments must help
refugee children who are separated from
their parents to be reunited with them.
Article 23 (children with a disability)
A child with a disability has the right to live
a full and decent life with dignity and, as far
as possible, independence and to play an
active part in the community. Governments
must do all they can to support disabled
children and their families.
Article 24 (health and health services)
Every child has the right to the best
possible health. Governments must
provide good quality health care, clean
water, nutritious food, and a clean
environment and education on health
and well-being so that children can stay
healthy. Richer countries must help poorer
countries achieve this.
Article 25 (review of treatment in care)
If a child has been placed away from
home for the purpose of care or
protection (for example, with a foster
family or in hospital), they have the right
to a regular review of their treatment,
the way they are cared for and their
wider circumstances.
Article 26 (social security)
Every child has the right to benefit from
social security. Governments must
provide social security, including financial
support and other benefits, to families in
need of assistance.
Article 27 (adequate standard of living)
Every child has the right to a standard of
living that is good enough to meet their
physical and social needs and support
their development. Governments must
help families who cannot afford to
provide this.
Article 28 (right to education)
Every child has the right to an education.
Primary education must be free and
different forms of secondary education
must be available to every child. Discipline
in schools must respect children’s dignity
and their rights. Richer countries must help
poorer countries achieve this.
Article 29 (goals of education)
Education must develop every child’s
personality, talents and abilities to the
full. It must encourage the child’s respect
for human rights, as well as respect
for their parents, their own and other
cultures, and the environment.
Article 30 (children from minority
or indigenous groups)
Every child has the right to learn and
use the language, customs and religion
of their family, whether or not these are
shared by the majority of the people in
the country where they live.
Article 31 (leisure, play and culture)
Every child has the right to relax, play and
take part in a wide range of cultural and
artistic activities.
Article 32 (child labour)
Governments must protect children from
economic exploitation and work that is
dangerous or might harm their health,
development or education. Governments
must set a minimum age for children to
work and ensure that work conditions
are safe and appropriate.
Article 33 (drug abuse)
Governments must protect children from
the illegal use of drugs and from being
involved in the production or distribution
of drugs.
Article 34 (sexual exploitation)
Governments must protect children from
all forms of sexual abuse and exploitation.
Article 35 (abduction, sale
and trafficking)
Governments must protect children from
being abducted, sold or moved illegally
to a different place in or outside their
country for the purpose of exploitation.
Article 36 (other forms of exploitation)
Governments must protect children
from all other forms of exploitation, for
example the exploitation of children for
political activities, by the media or for
medical research.
Article 37 (inhumane treatment
and detention)
Children must not be tortured,
sentenced to the death penalty or suffer
other cruel or degrading treatment
or punishment. Children should be
arrested, detained or imprisoned only
as a last resort and for the shortest time
possible. They must be treated with
respect and care, and be able to keep in
contact with their family. Children must
not be put in prison with adults.
Article 38 (war and armed conflicts)
Governments must not allow children
under the age of 15 to take part in war
or join the armed forces. Governments
must do everything they can to protect
and care for children affected by war and
armed conflicts.
Article 39 (recovery from trauma
and reintegration)
Children who have experienced neglect,
abuse, exploitation, torture or who are
victims of war must receive special
support to help them recover their health,
dignity, self-respect and social life.
Article 40 (juvenile justice)
A child accused or guilty of breaking
the law must be treated with dignity
and respect. They have the right to legal
assistance and a fair trial that takes
account of their age. Governments must
set a minimum age for children to be
tried in a criminal court and manage a
justice system that enables children who
have been in conflict with the law to
reintegrate into society.
Article 41 (respect for higher
national standards)
If a country has laws and standards that
go further than the present Convention,
then the country must keep these laws.
Article 42 (knowledge of rights)
Governments must actively work to
make sure children and adults know
about the Convention.
The Convention has 54 articles in total.
Articles 43–54 are about how adults
and governments must work together to
make sure all children can enjoy all their
rights, including:
Article 45
Unicef can provide expert advice and
assistance on children’s rights.
Optional Protocols
There are three agreements, called
Optional Protocols, that strengthen the
Convention and add further unique
rights for children. They are optional
because governments that ratify the
Convention can decide whether or not
to sign up to these Optional Protocols.
They are: the Optional Protocol on the
sale of children, child prostitution and
child pornography, the Optional Protocol
on the involvement of children in armed
conflict and the Optional Protocol on
a complaints mechanism for children
(called Communications Procedure).
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