UN spotlights children’s rights as world gears up to mark 25th anniversary of landmark treaty

A child with his mother. Photo: UNICEF/Naser Siddique

19 November 2014 – As the global human rights community readies to celebrate tomorrow the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the United Nations committee charged with monitoring its implementation highlighted the right of children to actively participate – and not just be heard – in discussions that affect their lives and communities.

“Let us stop talking about ‘allowing’ young people to participate – it is, firstly, a right of the child,” the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child emphasized today in a press release from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

“Secondly, when children take part in discussions on matters affecting their lives, problems they face are more likely to be addressed meaningfully if their views are taken into account,” the Committee added.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 20 November 1989 and to date has been ratified by 194 countries, making it the most widely ratified international human rights treaty. Its adoption marked the first time that children were explicitly recognized as having specific rights.

Noting that since the Convention’s adoption, it could point to improvement in children’s lives worldwide, the Committee underscored that too many children still “suffer violations of their rights and especially violence, exploitation and neglect, discrimination, denial of health services or a decent education.”

It is important to remember that children can be “active agents of change in their families, in their schools, in their communities and in their countries,” the Committee said. While children may at times have views different than those of adults, “this is as it should be. Children are valuable members of our societies as children,” the Committee stressed.

“Creating the future we want, the future that will shape the lives of children and their children, depends on how we act now, and for that children’s participation is as important as that of adults,” the Committee added.

The Committee on the Rights of the Child comprises 18 independent experts and monitors implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by its State parties. It also monitors implementation of two Optional Protocols to the Convention, on involvement of children in armed conflict and on sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.

As part of celebrations to mark the anniversary of the Convention’s adoption, the General Assembly will hold a high-level meeting at UN Headquarters in New York tomorrow morning on the promotion and protection of the rights of children. An interactive panel discussion on the theme of 25 Years of the Convention on the Rights of the Child: is the world a better place for children?, co-chaired by Queen Silvia of Sweden and Ms. Laura Vargas Carrillo of Mexico, will be held in the afternoon.

Also tomorrow morning, a high-level panel discussion on the “25th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child: recalling its vision,” organized by the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, will be held at the UN in New York. Several missions will also hold side events.

In addition, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) will hold a musical celebration tomorrow morning at UN Headquarters to mark the anniversary of the Convention, as well as the 60th anniversary of the agency’s Goodwill Ambassador Programme and the 35th anniversary of the Music for UNICEF concert.

The occasion will also serve to launch the UNICEF #IMAGINE project, a musical and technological initiative to highlight the challenges children face the world over. The agency will also use the opportunity of the occasion to launch its latest State of the World’s Children report.


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