Rights of the Child

Convention on the Rights of the Child

Rights of the ChildThe first legally international binding instrument was set on the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1989. The convention is based on varied legal systems and different cultural traditions, it is a universally non negotiable set of standards. The basic standards commonly known as the human rights. This article will address different topics relating to the rights of the child, including child labor and child prostitution.

Impact of the CRC

The creation of the CRChas made some changes to the world. Apart from the fact that more attention is paid to the rights of children by the United Nations and other international institutions,  people in general became more aware of the rights children have. The Executive Director of UNICEF Carol Bellamy stated that years have passed ‘since the creation of a ground-breaking global treaty that recognized the basic human rights of all children, yet still millions of children remain forgotten or ignored’. Some theorists believe that the establishment of theCRC has made fundamental changes in the world. Others, on the other hand, believe that theCRC has not had the revolutionary impact that it was supposed to have.  In order to determine whether theCRC has had a revolutionary impact, this article will address child labor and child prostitution. The situation of children in Africa will also be addressed since it is the most underdeveloped and poorest continent in the world. Furthermore, since the living standards in Africa are not as good compared to the Western world, it is more likely that the rights of the child are being violated in this continent.

Child Labor

Africa is the poorest continent of the planet, and often considered most affected by abusing child rights. Over 70 per cent lives in extremely poor conditions. Of the 250 million child labours, an estimated account of 32 per cent works in Africa. In Africa most children work in the agricultural sector. A huge scandal arose when researchers found out that half of the chocolate that is purchased in the United states comes from African cocoa fields where children work. Researchers states that the cocoa farms are just the tip of the African iceberg. Along the coast side of Africa human trafficking occurs. African governments are not doing enough to put an end to this. Young girls are told to board ships to other countries. Moreover, they are also told that they will find work as servants or maids. Thus, there is more to child labour in Africa then what meets the eye. For many children who live in extreme poverty their primary rights are based on basic needs, such as water, shelter and healthcare. This might be beneficial for their parents as well, since they are often overlooked. Some children are not treated in a good way by adults in their direct environment. This could be subconsciously neglecting or intentional abuse. Before countries had agreed on the rights of children by law, agencies could intervene to secure the physical and mental wellbeing of the child. Because children have rights themselves nowadays, it is easier for governments to intervene in order to offer children their rights and create a fair chance for them in contemporary society.


When the Convention was set in 1989, 160 countries immediately signed it. However one thing has become clear over the years. A fundamental change needs more than a written plan. To protect children, a country should establish independent human rights institutions, such as an ombudsman. An ombudsman is an independent body that can assist a citizen’s complaint about the government or an organization for free. They can assist children, and provide training for all professionals who work with children. These training includes lawyers, social workers, policemen, doctors,  teachers and community workers. In most countries, where children’s rights are still violated, the political, social, and economic conditions are often extremely unstable. Children are often the victims of these factors. In periods of crisis, the rights of children are undermined because people do not see another solution. Unfortunately, there are also people who deliberately abuse the innocence of children. The rights of children are also violated in times of war. During this period it becomes even more clear that people exploit these children for their own profit.

Child prostitution

The sexual exploitation of children is one of the problems in the world which has not disappeared yet. Apart from the fact that many measures have been taken to protect children against these actions, the problem still occurs in many countries. The United Nations has been trying to solve these problems for years. Also, governments and civil societies have been wrestling with ways to solve the sexual exploitation of children. Many people think that child prostitution is a problem that mainly exists in countries such as Thailand and Tanzania. However, it is also a problem that occurs in the United States. The Mayor of Atlanta Shirley Franklin stated in an interview with PBS that “It is one of those issues that does not get discussed and therefore there is an assumption that perhaps it does not exist”. In order to determine why child prostitution still occurs, it is necessary to explore the many measures that have been taken. Various measures have been taken to improve the living situation of children. Child prostitution is defined as “the use of a child in sexual activities for remuneration or any other form of consideration” . The definition of this term can be found in The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (OP). This protocol was introduced  and ratified in 2000 by the General Assembly of the United Nations. The Optional Protocol deals with the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. Its primary aim is that ‘parties shall prohibit the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography’. In order to eliminate these problems, different approaches need to be taken. For example, the Protocol states the adoption of a holistic approach which addresses various factors, including poverty, lack of education and armed conflicts. In comparison to theCRC, the Optional Protocol states detailed requirements to stop the sexual abuse and exploitation of children.

UNICEF’s success

The mission of UNICEF is to advocate for the protection of children’s rights. They also aim to help children meet their basic needs. On the long run they also want to expand the opportunities of children to reach their full potential. UNICEF is guided in doing this by the provisions and principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. According to UNICEF, there has already been made some great efforts in protecting the rights of children in Africa. The main improvements are incorporating human rights principles into legislation and developing national agendas for children. Another improvement is the fact that they are now able to assess the impact of measures on children. They are also the institution which is listening to children's voices and developing justice systems for children. These improvements seem to be big changes and could have been called revolutionary.

International impact

According to UNICEF, there had never been such a focus on the rights of the child without the, almost, universal ratification of theCRCin 1989. Also according to scientists, the Convention of the Rights of the Child is a real milestone. Furthermore,  theCRCis considered to be an important symbol of the process of growing global consciousness about childhood and about the way in which children are understood. This Convention has triggered major transformations in the conception of childhood and children as subjects of the law. The Rights of the Child are given high priority at the different levels of UN activities and have appeared on the agendas of the Commission on Human Rights, the General Assembly and the Security Council. Furthermore, the creation of theCRCwas also the inspiration for a number of regional initiatives in both Europe and Africa. For example, theCRCwas the basis for the creation of the Children’s Act in Africa and the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment in Europe. TheCRCcan therefore be considered to be a helpful and appropriate framework for taking up the many challenges that exist in the area of international crimes against children. Moreover, the Convention concerns various fields as human rights law, international humanitarian law and juvenile justice law. The CRC is therefore seen as a major breakthrough by scholars because it unites all these chapters of international law in one comprehensive document. In practice, many governmental and non – governmental organizations have incorporated theCRCinto their mission statements and are developing child rights – based approaches to their work.  The ratification caused incorporation and made it possible that certain international human rights treaties became more important than certain national laws and the necessity of States Parties. Thus, the CRC has brought various changes to legal systems and the way children are seen before the law. However, there are a few countries which have not ratified the document yet. This in turn implies that further steps need to be taken in order for children’s rights to be considered universal.


Article written by: SarahAjaoud
Times read: 1580x
Added: 03-11-2016 00:44
Last modified: 27-11-2016 20:49

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