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Rights of the Child Convention turns 20

Taking practical measures to realize the rights of the child is the greatest gift that we can give to our future generations, said High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay as the Convention on the Rights of the Child turns 20 years old.

Human Rights Chief urges practical measures to realize children’s rights to mark the 20th anniversary of the CRC © UN Photo/John IsaacA two-day commemoration is taking place in Geneva on 8 and 9 October to kick off some five weeks of activities world-wide ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Convention on 20 November.

Having been ratified by all but two of the UN’s member states, the Convention is the most widely ratified international human rights treaty. It has led to the inclusion of children’s rights in domestic legislation, a ban on corporal punishment in 24 countries so far, and the active participation of children at national, regional and international discussion about their rights.

However, “there persist severe violations, including violence, sexual abuse and exploitation, child trafficking and forced labor,” Pillay told some 450 participants from all over the world when she opened the commemorative event.

“Also tragically evident are those multiple and overlapping forms of discrimination that affect girls, children with disabilities and those from minority and indigenous populations, street children, children in conflict with the law, refugee and migrant children and children from other marginalized and displaced groups,” she said.

With the adoption of the Convention by the General Assembly two decades ago, the international community recognized for the first time that “children, both girls and boys alike, are not simply the property of their parents or of their care givers, but individual rights-holders, fully entitled to their rights and in charge of their own destiny according to their age and level of maturity,” the High Commissioner pointed out.

She also drew attention to an important initiative on the possibility of an Optional Protocol to the Convention that would introduce a complaints procedure for violations of the rights of the child where national-level remedies have failed or do not exist.

“This mechanism could significantly strengthen the monitoring of the Convention and contribute to the effective implementation of children’s rights.”

The two-day event, jointly organized by the UN human rights office (OHCHR) and the Committee on the Rights of the Child, in collaboration with UNICEF, NGOs and numerous governments, focuses on “Dignity, Development and Dialogue.”

Children or young people from 15 countries, including eight “youth reporters,” are also participating in the event to ensure that their viewpoints and ideas are taken into account.

8 October 2009