Children's Rights According to UNICEF
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has been working for many years to achieve equal rights for all children in the world, without exception. What are those rights?
The Convention on the Rights of the Child was signed a little more than 25 years ago. In that document, sponsored by the United Nations, member countries pledged to do everything in their power to protect and care for children. That is, to stipulate children’s rights.
This commitment included promoting their right to survive, to grow in good conditions, and to prosper in life. They also made a vow to make sure that children’s voices were heard and to fully realize their potential.
Many advances have taken place since the signing of that convention. Infant mortality has decreased, school enrollment has increased and today, girls have more and better opportunities. However, there’s still much to do. Worldwide, many children haven’t had a chance to achieve their fundamental rights and there are new problems to solve.
UNICEF and children’s rights
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) promotes equal rights for all children in the world, without exception. With that goal in mind, this organization works day after day to make those rights a reality. Moreover, The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the document that guides their work. Hence, it’s their compass.
UNICEF works in countries all around the world, including developed countries. Its mission is to ensure that, in all these countries, children have the right to a healthy life, quality education, and to live without any violence or abuse. Thus, within the framework of this mission, the organization works in different ways, according to the needs of each country.
In Spain, for example, their work focuses on the political impact of children’s rights. They carry out studies to better learn and understand children’s situation in their environment. They also work on rights education. In light of that, they’re taking on a very important task of promoting a rights approach in all educational centers.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child
The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the treaty that has been most ratified throughout history. This document contains all the provisions on children’s civil rights and freedoms. These include family environment, health, education, recreation and culture, as well as fundamental measures for their protection.
The Convention has guiding principles. Among them is non-discrimination, the children’s best interest, the right to life, provision, and development, and the right to participate. Above all, these principles are the absolute foundations required to make children’s rights come true. The document also includes three types of rights:
Right to provision and development
This category contemplates the right to the resources and skills that are necessary for children to survive, be happy, and develop fully.
All this implies adequate nutrition, decent housing, quality education, and access to health services. Nonetheless, it also includes the possibility of free time and recreation, participation in cultural activities, and knowledge of their own rights.
Right to protection
The right to protection includes protection against all types of mistreatment, violence, and abuse against children. It also includes abandonment, exploitation, and cruelty. Special emphasis is placed on children’s right to special protection in times of war and for refugees or disabled children.
Right to participation
This is the category that includes the children’s right to be heard. Their right to freedom of expression is put in place to give their opinion on all matters that affect their social, economic, cultural, religious, and political life. This right includes not only their participation but also the obligation to listen to them, as well as the right to be informed.
Children’s rights: governments, family, and children
The governments of the countries that have signed this commitment to children’s rights are obliged to recognize and take them into account when making decisions.
A family is a fundamental group in society, within which its members, mainly children, must be able to have adequate development and well-being.
For this reason, the States must respect and support parents as being the first ones responsible for the care of children. Children, in addition to their own rights, also have to respect the rights of others; especially those of their parents.