Children's human rights
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is an internationally binding human rights agreement. The convention has 54 articles, 42 of which set out the rights of children and young people. The rest are about how governments must publicise and carry out the convention.
Rights given under the convention
Children and young people up to 18 years old have all the rights set out in the convention. These cover social, economic, cultural, civil and political rights.
A convention is an agreement between countries to obey the same law. When the government of a country ratifies a convention it agrees to obey the rules set out in that convention.
What the treaty means
Since the treaty was ratified, every child in the UK has been entitled to over 40 specific rights. The different rights are not ranked in order of importance. Instead they interact with one another to form dynamic parts of an integrated unit.
- the right to life, survival and development
- the right to have their views respected and to have their best interests considered at all times
- the right to a name and nationality, freedom of expression and access to information about them
- the right to live in a family environment or alternative care and to have contact with both parents if possible
- health and welfare rights - including rights for children with disabilities - the right to health and health care and social security
- the right to education, leisure, culture and the arts
- special protection for refugee children, children in the juvenile justice system, children deprived of their liberty and children suffering economic, sexual or other forms of exploitation
The rights in the convention apply to all children and young people, with no exceptions.
Safeguarding the Convention
The Committee for the Rights of the Child is a United Nations (UN) body of 18 independent experts on child rights from around the world.
Members are elected for a term of four years by states parties in line with article 43 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. They serve in their personal capacity and may be re-elected if nominated.
Only states parties to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC or Convention) can nominate and elect committee members.
Committee on the Rights of the Child
The Committee on the Rights of the Child monitors implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child by its states parties. All countries must report their work in children’s rights every five years to the committee. During the reporting cycle, the committee talks to each state so they can accurately assess children's rights in that country.
Examination of UNCRC
Every six to eight years the UK and devolved governments’ implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is examined by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People
Northern Ireland has a Commissioner for Children and Young People. The commissioner safeguards and promotes the rights and best interests of children and young people and other rights guaranteed by the convention. The Commissioner reports to the Assembly and Parliament.