Children share a meal at a shelter for HIV-positive children and those orphaned by AIDS in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. 
Photo: UNICEF/DeCesare.Children share a meal at a shelter for HIV-positive children and those orphaned by AIDS in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Photo: UNICEF/DeCesare

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child turns 20

11/21/2009 // The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child turned 20 on the 20 November this year. UNICEF has launched a special edition of its annual “State of the World” report to coincide with the anniversary. “For the last 20 years, the UN’s convention for children has protected children against violence, abuse and discrimination. It’s given increasing numbers of children the right to schooling and health care,” says foreign minister Jonas Gahr Støre.

The report “Celebrating 20 years of the Convention on the Rights of the Child” looks at how the children’s convention has affected the rights of children around the world over the last 20 years. At the same time, UNICEF points to the most central challenges that remain.

“UNICEF’s anniversary report shows that great progress has been made since the UN children’s convention was ratified 20 years ago today. Sadly it also shows that great challenges still remain and that many children still suffer. Norway will continue to make children’s rights a top priority, through our membership in the UN Human Rights Council and not least through our strong and continuous support for UNICEF’s important work,” says Foreign Minister Støre.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is ratified by 193 countries and as such is the human rights convention that’s ratified by the most countries. Only two nations have not ratified the convention, the United States and Somalia. The Convention is legally binding for countries that have ratified it. The Convention’s main principles include the right to life and health, to schooling and development, participation and influence, care and protection.

Great progress has been made over the last 20 years:

• Child mortality (under fives) is down by 28 % since 1990.
• An additional 1.6 billion people got access to clean drinking water from 1990 to 2006.
• 84% of the world’s children are today at (primary) school, and the gender balance has improved.
• Children affected by HIV-Aids are no longer without help
• Important measures have been implemented to stop the exploitation of children
• The average age of children that marry has gone down in certain countries
• The number of girls that are circumcised has gone down.

But much still remains to be done. Many children still die of preventable diseases, like malaria, measles and pneumonia. There are also too many children that are not offered schooling. Girls in particular need our attention. It is particularly girls that do not go to school and girls are more exposed to sexualised violence, human trafficking and early marriage.

 

 


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