Convention on the Rights of the Child

House of Mercy Children’s Home Lagos, Nigeria (HOM) strives to protect and promote children’s rights. Our practical programmes are geared to meet children’s rights to food, clothing, shelter, education, healthcare, leisure and to have a childhood protected from violence, abuse, discrimination and exploitation.

In 1989, governments across the world promised all children the same rights by adopting the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child also known as the CRC or UNCRC. Currently, 195 countries have ratified the Convention except Somalia and the United States.

Significant progress has been made since governments made this set of promises to children. However, much remains to be done as countless children are still being denied their basic human rights.

Article 1: Definition of the Child

Everyone under the age of 18 has all the rights in the Convention.

Article 2: Without Discrimination

The Convention applies to every child irrespective of their ethnicity, gender, religion, abilities or the type of family they come from.

Article 3: Best Interests of the Child

The best interests of the child must be a top priority in all actions concerning children.

Article 4: Protection of Rights

Governments must do everything possible to put into practice the rights in this Convention.

Article 5: Parental Guidance

Governments must respect the rights and responsibilities of parents to guide and advise their children so that as they grow, they learn to apply their rights properly.

Article 6: Survival and Development

Every child has the right to life. Governments must do all they can to ensure that children survive and grow up healthy.

Article 7: Registration, Name, Nationality, Care

Every child has the right to a legally registered name and nationality, as well as the right to know and, as far as possible, to be cared for by their parents.

Article 8: Preservation of Identity

Governments must respect and protect a child’s identity and prevent their name, nationality or family relationships from being changed unlawfully. If a child has been illegally denied part of their identity, governments must act quickly to protect and assist the child to re-establish their identity.

Article 9: Separation from Parents

Children must not be separated from their parents unless it is in the best interests of the child (for example, in cases of abuse or neglect). A child must be given the chance to express their views when decisions about parental responsibilities are being made. Every child has the right to stay in contact with both parents, unless this might harm them.

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 both of them.

Article 11: Kidnapping and Trafficking

Governments must take steps to prevent children being taken out of their own country illegally or being prevented from returning.

Article 12: Respect for the Views of the Child

Every child has the right to say what they think in all matters affecting them, and to have their views taken seriously.

Article 13: Freedom of Expression

Every child must be free to say what they think and to seek and receive information of any kind 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 want and also to practise their religion. Governments must respect the rights of parents to give their children guidance about this right.

Article 15: Freedom of Association

Every child has the right to meet with other children and young people and to join groups and organisations unless there are legal restrictions.

Article 16: Right to Privacy

Every child has the right to privacy. The law should protect the child’s private, family and home life.

Article 17: Access to Information from Mass Media

Every child has the right to reliable information from the mass media. Television, radio, newspapers and other media should provide information that children can understand. Governments must help protect children from materials that could harm them.

Article 18: Parental Responsibilities; State Assistance

Both parents share responsibility for bringing up their child and should always consider what is best for the child. Governments must help parents by providing services to support them, especially if the child’s parents work.

Article 19: Protection from all forms of Violence

Governments must do all they can to ensure that children are protected from all forms of violence, abuse, neglect and mistreatment by their parents or anyone else who looks after them.

Article 20: Children deprived of a Family

If a child cannot be looked after by their family, governments must make sure that they are looked after properly by people who respect the child’s religion, culture and language.

Article 21: Adoption

If a child is adopted, the first concern must be what is best for the child. The same protection and standards should apply whether the child is adopted in the country where they were born or in another country.

Article 22: Refugee Children

If a child is a refugee or seeking refuge, governments must ensure that they have the same rights as any other child. Governments must help in trying to reunite child refugees with their parents. Where this is not possible, the child should be given protection.

Article 23: Children with Disability

A child with a disability has the right to live a full and decent life in conditions that promote dignity, independence and an active role in the community. Governments must do all they can to provide free care and assistance to children who are mentally or physically disabled.

Article 24: Health and Health Care Services

Every child has the right to the best possible health. Governments must provide good quality child health care services, clean water, nutritious food and a clean environment so that children can stay healthy. Richer countries must help poorer countries achieve this.

Article 25: Review of Treatment in Care

Children placed in physical or mental health care settings have the right to a periodic review of their circumstances and treatment.

Article 26: Social Security

Governments must do everything to protect the child’s right to social security insurance and benefits.

Article 27: Adequate Standard of Living

Every child has the right to a standard of living adequate for the child’s physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development. Governments must assist 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. Secondary education must be available to every child. Discipline in schools must respect children’s human dignity. Wealthy 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 of Minorities

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 join in a wide range of cultural and artistic activities.

Article 32: Child Labour

Governments must protect children from economic exploitation and from work that is dangerous or might harm their health or education.

Article 33: Drug Abuse

Governments must do everything to protect children from the illicit use of narcotic and psychotropic drugs.

Article 34: Sexual Exploitation

Governments must do everything to protect children from sexual exploitation (including prostitution) and sexual abuse.

Article 35: Abduction

Governments must do everything to protect the child from being abducted, sold or trafficked.

Article 36: Other Forms of Exploitation

Governments must protect children from all other forms of exploitation prejudicial to the child’s welfare.

Article 37: Detention

No child shall be tortured or suffer other cruel treatment or punishment. A child shall only ever be arrested or put in prison as a last resort and for the shortest possible time. Children must not be put in a prison with adults and they must be able to keep in contact with their family.

Article 38: War and Armed Conflicts

Governments must ensure that children under the age of 15 do not take a direct part in wars or other hostilities and do everything they can to protect and care for children affected by armed conflict.

Article 39: Rehabilitation of Child Victims

Governments must promote physical and psychological recovery of child victims of torture, degrading treatment or armed conflict. The support must promote children’s self-respect and dignity.

Article 40: Juvenile Justice

A child accused or guilty of breaking the law must be treated with dignity and respect. Children have the right to help from a lawyer and a fair trial that takes account of their age or situation. The child’s privacy must be respected at all times.

Article 41: Respect for Better National Standards

No part of the Convention shall override provisions contained in National laws which are more conducive to children’s rights.

Article 42: Knowledge of Rights

Governments must make the principles and provisions of the Convention widely known, by appropriate and active means, to adults and children alike.

Articles 43–54 outline the establishment, composition and responsibilities of the Committee on the Rights of the Child as well as the procedures for ratification and amendments.

The Convention has 54 articles in total.

Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In 2000, the UN General Assembly adopted Two Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The first Optional Protocol requires governments to increase the minimum age for recruitment into the armed forces from 15 years and to ensure that members of their armed forces under the age of 18 do not take a direct part in armed conflict.

The second Optional Protocol provides detailed requirements for governments to end the sexual exploitation and abuse of children. It also protects children from being sold for non-sexual purposes – such as other forms of forced labour, illegal adoption and organ donation.

On 14 April 2014, a third Optional Protocol was adopted. This Protocol allows the Committee on the Rights of the Child to hear complaints that a child’s rights have been violated. Children from countries that ratify the Protocol can use the treaty to seek justice if the national legal system has not been able to provide a remedy for the violation.