UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) defines Child Rights as the minimum entitlements and freedoms that should be afforded to every citizen below the age of 18 regardless of race, national origin, colour, gender, language, religion, opinions, origin, wealth, birth status, disability, or other characteristics.

Human rights belong to all people, regardless of their age, including children. However, because of their special status – whereby children need extra protection and guidance from adults – children also have some special rights of their own. These are called children’s rights and they are laid out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

Significant features of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

  • Applies equally to both girls and boys up to the age of 18, even if they are married or already have children of their own.
  • The convention is guided by the principles of ‘Best Interest of the Child’ and ‘Non-discrimination’ and ‘Respect for views of the child.’
  • It emphasises the importance of the family and the need to create an environment that is conducive to the healthy growth and development of children.
  • It obligates the state to respect and ensure that children get a fair and equitable deal in society.

It draws attention to four sets of civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights:

  • Survival
  • Protection
  • Development
  • Participation

Right to Survival includes

  • Right to life.
  • The highest attainable standard of health.
  • Adequate standard of living.
  • A name and a nationality.

Right to Development includes

  • Right to education.
  • Support for early childhood care and development.
  • Social security.
  • Right to leisure, recreation and cultural activities.

Right to Protection includes freedom from all forms of

  • Inhuman or degrading treatment.
  • Special protection in special circumstances such as situations of emergency and armed conflicts, in case of disability etc.

Right to Participation includes

  • Respect for the views of the child.
  • Freedom of expression.
  • Access to appropriate information.
  • Freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

All rights are dependent on each other and are indivisible

Child Rights – India

  • All people under the age of 18 are entitled to the standards and rights guaranteed by the laws that govern our country and the international legal instruments we have accepted by ratifying them.
  • The Constitution of India guarantees all children certain rights, which have been specially included for them. These include:
  • Right to free and compulsory elementary education for all children in the 6-14 year age group (Article 21 A).
  • Right to be protected from any hazardous employment till the age of 14 years (Article 24).
  • Right to be protected from being abused and forced by economic necessity to enter occupations unsuited to their age or strength (Article 39(e)).
  • Right to equal opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity and guaranteed protection of childhood and youth against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment (Article 39 (f)).

Besides these they also have rights as equal citizens of India, just as any other adult male or female:

  • Right to equality (Article 14).
  • Right against discrimination (Article 15).
  • Right to personal liberty and due process of law (Article 21).
  • Right to being protected from being trafficked and forced into bonded labour (Article 23).
  • Right of weaker sections of the people to be protected from social injustice and all forms of exploitation (Article 46).

The State must:

  • Make special provisions for women and children (Article 15 (3)).
  • Protect interest of minorities (Article 29).
  • Promote educational interests of weaker sections of the people (Article 46).
  • Raise the level of nutrition and standard of living of its people and the improvement of public health (Article 47).
  • Besides the Constitution, there are several laws that specifically apply to children. As responsible citizens, it is advisable that you are aware of them and their significance.