United Nations


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

14 December 1990


                                                   68th plenary meeting
                                                   14 December 1990
     45/112.  United Nations Guidelines for the Prevention of Juvenile
              Delinquency (The Riyadh Guidelines)
     The General Assembly,
     Bearing in mind the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as other
international instruments pertaining to the rights and well-being of young
persons, including relevant standards established by the International Labour
     Bearing in mind also the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, the
Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the United Nations Standard Minimum
Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (The Beijing Rules),
     Recalling General Assembly resolution 40/33 of 29 November 1985, by which
the Assembly adopted the Beijing Rules recommended by the Seventh United
Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders,
     Recalling that the General Assembly, in its resolution 40/35 of
29 November 1985, called for the development of standards for the prevention
of juvenile delinquency which would assist Member States in formulating and
implementing specialized programmes and policies, emphasizing assistance, care
and community involvement, and called upon the Economic and Social Council to
report to the Eighth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and
the Treatment of Offenders on the progress achieved with respect to these
standards, for review and action,
     Recalling also that the Economic and Social Council, in section II of its
resolution 1986/10 of 21 May 1986, requested the Eighth Congress to consider
the draft standards for the prevention of juvenile delinquency, with a view to
their adoption,
     Recognizing the need to develop national, regional and international
approaches and strategies for the prevention of juvenile delinquency,
     Affirming that every child has basic human rights, including, in
particular, access to free education,
     Mindful of the large number of young persons who may or may not be in
conflict with the law but who are abandoned, neglected, abused, exposed to
drug abuse, and are in marginal circumstances and in general at social risk,
     Taking into account the benefits of progressive policies for the
prevention of delinquency and for the welfare of the community,
     1.   Notes with satisfaction the substantive work accomplished by the
Committee on Crime Prevention and Control and the Secretary-General in the
formulation of the guidelines for the prevention of juvenile delinquency;
     2.   Expresses appreciation for the valuable collaboration of the Arab
Security Studies and Training Centre at Riyadh, in hosting the International
Meeting of Experts on the Development of the United Nations Draft Guidelines
for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency, held at Riyadh from 28 February to
1 March 1988, in co-operation with the United Nations Office at Vienna;
     3.   Adopts the United Nations Guidelines for the Prevention of Juvenile
Delinquency contained in the annex to the present resolution, to be designated
"the Riyadh Guidelines";
     4.   Calls upon Member States, in their comprehensive crime prevention
plans, to apply the Riyadh Guidelines in national law, policy and practice and
to bring them to the attention of relevant authorities, including policy
makers, juvenile justice personnel, educators, the mass media, practitioners
and scholars;
     5.   Requests the Secretary-General and invites Member States to ensure
the widest possible dissemination of the text of the Riyadh Guidelines in all
of the official languages of the United Nations;
     6.   Requests the Secretary-General and invites all relevant United
Nations offices and interested institutions, in particular, the United Nations
Children's Fund, as well as individual experts, to make a concerted effort to
promote the application of the Riyadh Guidelines;
     7.   Also requests the Secretary-General to intensify research on
particular situations of social risk and on the exploitation of children,
including the use of children as instruments of criminality, with a view to
developing comprehensive countermeasures and to report thereon to the Ninth
United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of
     8.   Further requests the Secretary-General to issue a composite manual
on juvenile justice standards, containing the United Nations Standard Minimum
Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (The Beijing Rules), the
United Nations Guidelines on the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency (The
Riyadh Guidelines), and the United Nations Rules for the Protection of
Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty, and a set of full commentaries on their
     9.   Urges all relevant bodies within the United Nations system to
collaborate with the Secretary-General in taking appropriate measures to
ensure the implementation of the present resolution;
     10.  Invites the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and
Protection of Minorities of the Commission on Human Rights to consider this
new international instrument with a view to promoting the application of its
     11.  Invites Member States to support strongly the organization of
technical and scientific workshops, and pilot and demonstration projects on
practical issues and policy matters relating to the application of the
provisions of the Riyadh Guidelines and to the establishment of concrete
measures for community-based services designed to respond to the special
needs, problems and concerns of young persons, and requests the
Secretary-General to co-ordinate efforts in this respect;
     12.  Also invites Member States to inform the Secretary-General on the
implementation of the Riyadh Guidelines and to report regularly to the
Committee on Crime Prevention and Control on the results achieved;
     13.  Recommends that the Committee on Crime Prevention and Control
request the Ninth Congress to review the progress made in the promotion and
application of the Riyadh Guidelines and the recommendations contained in the
present resolution, under a separate agenda item on juvenile justice and keep
the matter under constant review.
           United Nations Guidelines for the Prevention of Juvenile
                     Delinquency (The Riyadh Guidelines)
                          I.  FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES
1.   The prevention of juvenile delinquency is an essential part of crime
prevention in society.  By engaging in lawful, socially useful activities and
adopting a humanistic orientation towards society and outlook on life, young
persons can develop non-criminogenic attitudes.
2.   The successful prevention of juvenile delinquency requires efforts on the
part of the entire society to ensure the harmonious development of
adolescents, with respect for and promotion of their personality from early
3.   For the purposes of the interpretation of the present Guidelines, a
child-centred orientation should be pursued.  Young persons should have an
active role and partnership within society and should not be considered as
mere objects of socialization or control.
4.   In the implementation of the present Guidelines, in accordance with
national legal systems, the well-being of young persons from their early
childhood should be the focus of any preventive programme.
5.   The need for and importance of progressive delinquency prevention
policies and the systematic study and the elaboration of measures should be
recognized.  These should avoid criminalizing and penalizing a child for
behaviour that does not cause serious damage to the development of the child
or harm to others.  Such policies and measures should involve:
     (a)  The provision of opportunities, in particular educational
opportunities, to meet the varying needs of young persons and to serve as a
supportive framework for safeguarding the personal development of all young
persons, particularly those who are demonstrably endangered or at social risk
and are in need of special care and protection;
     (b)  Specialized philosophies and approaches for delinquency prevention,
on the basis of laws, processes, institutions, facilities and a service
delivery network aimed at reducing the motivation, need and opportunity for,
or conditions giving rise to, the commission of infractions;
     (c)  Official intervention to be pursued primarily in the overall
interest of the young person and guided by fairness and equity;
     (d)  Safeguarding the well-being, development, rights and interests of
all young persons;
     (e)  Consideration that youthful behaviour or conduct that does not
conform to overall social norms and values is often part of the maturation and
growth process and tends to disappear spontaneously in most individuals with
the transition to adulthood;
     (f)  Awareness that, in the predominant opinion of experts, labelling a
young person as "deviant", "delinquent" or "pre-delinquent" often contributes
to the development of a consistent pattern of undesirable behaviour by young
6.   Community-based services and programmes should be developed for the
prevention of juvenile delinquency, particularly where no agencies have yet
been established.  Formal agencies of social control should only be utilized
as a means of last resort.
                         II.  SCOPE OF THE GUIDELINES
7.   The present Guidelines should be interpreted and implemented within the
broad framework of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Declaration of the
Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and in the
context of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of
Juvenile Justice (The Beijing Rules), as well as other instruments and norms
relating to the rights, interests and well-being of all children and young
8.   The present Guidelines should also be implemented in the context of the
economic, social and cultural conditions prevailing in each Member State.
                           III.  GENERAL PREVENTION
9.   Comprehensive prevention plans should be instituted at every level of
government and include the following:
     (a)  In-depth analyses of the problem and inventories of programmes,
services, facilities and resources available;
     (b)  Well-defined responsibilities for the qualified agencies,
institutions and personnel involved in preventive efforts;
     (c)  Mechanisms for the appropriate co-ordination of prevention efforts
between governmental and non-governmental agencies;
     (d)  Policies, programmes and strategies based on prognostic studies to
be continuously monitored and carefully evaluated in the course of
     (e)  Methods for effectively reducing the opportunity to commit
delinquent acts;
     (f)  Community involvement through a wide range of services and
     (g)  Close interdisciplinary co-operation between national, state,
provincial and local governments, with the involvement of the private sector,
representative citizens of the community to be served, and labour, child-care,
health education, social, law enforcement and judicial agencies in taking
concerted action to prevent juvenile delinquency and youth crime;
     (h)  Youth participation in delinquency prevention policies and
processes, including recourse to community resources, youth self-help, and
victim compensation and assistance programmes;
     (i)  Specialized personnel at all levels.
                         IV.  SOCIALIZATION PROCESSES
10.  Emphasis should be placed on preventive policies facilitating the
successful socialization and integration of all children and young persons, in
particular through the family, the community, peer groups, schools, vocational
training and the world of work, as well as through voluntary organizations.
Due respect should be given to the proper personal development of children and
young persons, and they should be accepted as full and equal partners in
socialization and integration processes.
                                  A.  Family
11.  Every society should place a high priority on the needs and well-being of
the family and of all its members.
12.  Since the family is the central unit responsible for the primary
socialization of children, governmental and social efforts to preserve the
integrity of the family, including the extended family, should be pursued.
The society has a responsibility to assist the family in providing care and
protection and in ensuring the physical and mental well-being of children.
Adequate arrangements including day-care should be provided.
13.  Governments should establish policies that are conducive to the bringing
up of children in stable and settled family environments.  Families in need of
assistance in the resolution of conditions of instability or conflict should
be provided with requisite services.
14.  Where a stable and settled family environment is lacking and when
community efforts to assist parents in this regard have failed and the
extended family cannot fulfil this role, alternative placements, including
foster care and adoption, should be considered.  Such placements should
replicate, to the extent possible, a stable and settled family environment,
while, at the same time, establishing a sense of permanency for children, thus
avoiding problems associated with "foster drift".
15.  Special attention should be given to children of families affected by
problems brought about by rapid and uneven economic, social and cultural
change, in particular the children of indigenous, migrant and refugee
families.  As such changes may disrupt the social capacity of the family to
secure the traditional rearing and nurturing of children, often as a result of
role and culture conflict, innovative and socially constructive modalities for
the socialization of children have to be designed.
16.  Measures should be taken and programmes developed to provide families
with the opportunity to learn about parental roles and obligations as regards
child development and child care, promoting positive parent-child
relationships, sensitizing parents to the problems of children and young
persons and encouraging their involvement in family and community-based
17.  Governments should take measures to promote family cohesion and harmony
and to discourage the separation of children from their parents, unless
circumstances affecting the welfare and future of the child leave no viable
18.  It is important to emphasize the socialization function of the family and
extended family; it is also equally important to recognize the future role,
responsibilities, participation and partnership of young persons in society.
19.  In ensuring the right of the child to proper socialization, Governments
and other agencies should rely on existing social and legal agencies, but,
whenever traditional institutions and customs are no longer effective, they
should also provide and allow for innovative measures.
                                B.  Education
20.  Governments are under an obligation to make public education accessible
to all young persons.
21.  Education systems should, in addition to their academic and vocational
training activities, devote particular attention to the following:
     (a)  Teaching of basic values and developing respect for the child's own
cultural identity and patterns, for the social values of the country in which
the child is living, for civilizations different from the child's own and for
human rights and fundamental freedoms;
     (b)  Promotion and development of the personality, talents and mental and
physical abilities of young people to their fullest potential;
     (c)  Involvement of young persons as active and effective participants
in, rather than mere objects of, the educational process;
     (d)  Undertaking activities that foster a sense of identity with and of
belonging to the school and the community;
     (e)  Encouragement of young persons to understand and respect diverse
views and opinions, as well as cultural and other differences;
     (f)  Provision of information and guidance regarding vocational training,
employment opportunities and career development;
     (g)  Provision of positive emotional support to young persons and the
avoidance of psychological maltreatment;
     (h)  Avoidance of harsh disciplinary measures, particularly corporal
22.  Educational systems should seek to work together with parents, community
organizations and agencies concerned with the activities of young persons.
23.  Young persons and their families should be informed about the law and
their rights and responsibilities under the law, as well as the universal
value system, including United Nations instruments.
24.  Educational systems should extend particular care and attention to young
persons who are at social risk.  Specialized prevention programmes and
educational materials, curricula, approaches and tools should be developed and
fully utilized.
25.  Special attention should be given to comprehensive policies and
strategies for the prevention of alcohol, drug and other substance abuse by
young persons.  Teachers and other professionals should be equipped and
trained to prevent and deal with these problems.  Information on the use and
abuse of drugs, including alcohol, should be made available to the student
26.  Schools should serve as resource and referral centres for the provision
of medical, counselling and other services to young persons, particularly
those with special needs and suffering from abuse, neglect, victimization and
27.  Through a variety of educational programmes, teachers and other adults
and the student body should be sensitized to the problems, needs and
perceptions of young persons, particularly those belonging to underprivileged,
disadvantaged, ethnic or other minority and low-income groups.
28.  School systems should attempt to meet and promote the highest
professional and educational standards with respect to curricula, teaching and
learning methods and approaches, and the recruitment and training of qualified
teachers.  Regular monitoring and assessment of performance by the appropriate
professional organizations and authorities should be ensured.
29.  School systems should plan, develop and implement extra-curricular
activities of interest to young persons, in co-operation with community
30.  Special assistance should be given to children and young persons who find
it difficult to comply with attendance codes, and to "drop-outs".
31.  Schools should promote policies and rules that are fair and just;
students should be represented in bodies formulating school policy, including
policy on discipline, and decision-making.
                                C.  Community
32.  Community-based services and programmes which respond to the special
needs, problems, interests and concerns of young persons and which offer
appropriate counselling and guidance to young persons and their families
should be developed, or strengthened where they exist.
33.  Communities should provide, or strengthen where they exist, a wide range
of community-based support measures for young persons, including community
development centres, recreational facilities and services to respond to the
special problems of children who are at social risk.  In providing these
helping measures, respect for individual rights should be ensured.
34.  Special facilities should be set up to provide adequate shelter for young
persons who are no longer able to live at home or who do not have homes to
live in. 
35.  A range of services and helping measures should be provided to deal with
the difficulties experienced by young persons in the transition to adulthood.
Such services should include special programmes for young drug abusers which
emphasize care, counselling, assistance and therapy-oriented interventions.
36.  Voluntary organizations providing services for young persons should be
given financial and other support by Governments and other institutions.
37.  Youth organizations should be created or strengthened at the local level
and given full participatory status in the management of community affairs.
These organizations should encourage youth to organize collective and
voluntary projects, particularly projects aimed at helping young persons in
need of assistance.
38.  Government agencies should take special responsibility and provide
necessary services for homeless or street children; information about local
facilities, accommodation, employment and other forms and sources of help
should be made readily available to young persons.
39.  A wide range of recreational facilities and services of particular
interest to young persons should be established and made easily accessible to
                                D.  Mass media
40.  The mass media should be encouraged to ensure that young persons have
access to information and material from a diversity of national and
international sources.
41.  The mass media should be encouraged to portray the positive contribution
of young persons to society.
42.  The mass media should be encouraged to disseminate information on the
existence of services, facilities and opportunities for young persons in
43.  The mass media generally, and the television and film media in
particular, should be encouraged to minimize the level of pornography, drugs
and violence portrayed and to display violence and exploitation disfavourably,
as well as to avoid demeaning and degrading presentations, especially of
children, women and interpersonal relations, and to promote egalitarian
principles and roles.
44.  The mass media should be aware of its extensive social role and
responsibility, as well as its influence, in communications relating to
youthful drug and alcohol abuse.  It should use its power for drug abuse
prevention by relaying consistent messages through a balanced approach.
Effective drug awareness campaigns at all levels should be promoted.
                              V.  SOCIAL POLICY
45.  Government agencies should give high priority to plans and programmes for
young persons and should provide sufficient funds and other resources for the
effective delivery of services, facilities and staff for adequate medical and
mental health care, nutrition, housing and other relevant services, including
drug and alcohol abuse prevention and treatment, ensuring that such resources
reach and actually benefit young persons.
46.  The institutionalization of young persons should be a measure of last
resort and for the minimum necessary period, and the best interests of the
young person should be of paramount importance.  Criteria authorizing formal
intervention of this type should be strictly defined and limited to the
following situations:  (a) where the child or young person has suffered harm
that has been inflicted by the parents or guardians; (b) where the child or
young person has been sexually, physically or emotionally abused by the
parents or guardians; (c) where the child or young person has been neglected,
abandoned or exploited by the parents or guardians; (d) where the child or
young person is threatened by physical or moral danger due to the behaviour of
the parents or guardians; and (e) where a serious physical or psychological
danger to the child or young person has manifested itself in his or her own
behaviour and neither the parents, the guardians, the juvenile himself or
herself nor non-residential community services can meet the danger by means
other than institutionalization.
47.  Government agencies should provide young persons with the opportunity of
continuing in full-time education, funded by the State where parents or
guardians are unable to support the young persons, and of receiving work
48.  Programmes to prevent delinquency should be planned and developed on the
basis of reliable, scientific research findings, and periodically monitored,
evaluated and adjusted accordingly.
49.  Scientific information should be disseminated to the professional
community and to the public at large about the sort of behaviour or situation
which indicates or may result in physical and psychological victimization,
harm and abuse, as well as exploitation, of young persons.
50.  Generally, participation in plans and programmes should be voluntary.
Young persons themselves should be involved in their formulation, development
and implementation.
51.  Governments should begin or continue to explore, develop and implement
policies, measures and strategies within and outside the criminal justice
system to prevent domestic violence against and affecting young persons and to
ensure fair treatment to these victims of domestic violence.
52.  Governments should enact and enforce specific laws and procedures to
promote and protect the rights and well-being of all young persons.
53.  Legislation preventing the victimization, abuse, exploitation and the use
for criminal activities of children and young persons should be enacted and
54.  No child or young person should be subjected to harsh or degrading
correction or punishment measures at home, in schools or in any other
55.  Legislation and enforcement aimed at restricting and controlling
accessibility of weapons of any sort to children and young persons should be
56.  In order to prevent further stigmatization, victimization and
criminalization of young persons, legislation should be enacted to ensure that
any conduct not considered an offence or not penalized if committed by an
adult is not considered an offence and not penalized if committed by a young
57.  Consideration should be given to the establishment of an office of
ombudsman or similar independent organ, which would ensure that the status,
rights and interests of young persons are upheld and that proper referral to
available services is made.  The ombudsman or other organ designated would
also supervise the implementation of the Riyadh Guidelines, the Beijing Rules
and the Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty.  The
ombudsman or other organ would, at regular intervals, publish a report on the
progress made and on the difficulties encountered in the implementation of the
instrument.  Child advocacy services should also be established.
58.  Law enforcement and other relevant personnel, of both sexes, should be
trained to respond to the special needs of young persons and should be
familiar with and use, to the maximum extent possible, programmes and referral
possibilities for the diversion of young persons from the justice system.
59.  Legislation should be enacted and strictly enforced to protect children
and young persons from drug abuse and drug traffickers.
60.  Efforts should be made and appropriate mechanisms established to promote,
on both a multidisciplinary and an intradisciplinary basis, interaction and
co-ordination between economic, social, educational and health agencies and
services, the justice system, youth, community and development agencies and
other relevant institutions.
61.  The exchange of information, experience and expertise gained through
projects, programmes, practices and initiatives relating to youth crime,
delinquency prevention and juvenile justice should be intensified at the
national, regional and international levels.
62.  Regional and international co-operation on matters of youth crime,
delinquency prevention and juvenile justice involving practitioners, experts
and decision makers should be further developed and strengthened.
63.  Technical and scientific co-operation on practical and policy-related
matters, particularly in training, pilot and demonstration projects, and on
specific issues concerning the prevention of youth crime and juvenile
delinquency should be strongly supported by all Governments, the United
Nations system and other concerned organizations.
64.  Collaboration should be encouraged in undertaking scientific research
with respect to effective modalities for youth crime and juvenile delinquency
prevention and the findings of such research should be widely disseminated and
65.  Appropriate United Nations bodies, institutes, agencies and offices
should pursue close collaboration and co-ordination on various questions
related to children, juvenile justice and youth crime and juvenile delinquency
66.  On the basis of the present Guidelines, the United Nations Secretariat,
in co-operation with interested institutions, should play an active role in
the conduct of research, scientific collaboration, the formulation of policy
options and the review and monitoring of their implementation, and should
serve as a source of reliable information on effective modalities for
delinquency prevention.