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A Brief Introduction To The History as well as also Principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

Although the human rights of children were recognised within the international community more than 50 years ago, by way of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child (1959), in which was not binding as an international agreement or treaty. However, in 1978 Poland proposed in which a brand new convention should be adopted inside following year, 1979, which was designated as the International Year of the Child. The proposed convention – later to be named the Convention on the Rights of the Child – was initially proposed to follow the principles stated inside 1959 Declaration, addressing economic, social as well as also cultural rights, although many states favoured a wider scope to incorporate issues of justice, ethnicity as well as also children’s involvement in armed conflicts. These additional aspects of children’s rights reflected the provisions of additional conventions in which had come into force inside intervening period, such as the International Covenant on Civil as well as also Political Rights (1966). Another criticism of the proposed convention was in which in which lacked detail, as well as also was not drafted in enforceable terms.

The United Nations General Assembly was supportive of the Convention being settled during the International Year of the Child, although the Commission on Human Rights resisted undue haste as well as also established a working group comprised of representatives of member states to review the initial proposal. Poland then produced a revised proposal in which was accepted as an improved upon basis for negotiations to reach agreement about the Convention. All of the working group’s decisions were by consensus, which meant in which some key issues were not included – e.g., child marriage – because consensus could not be reached on those issues. Nonetheless, in which process eventually produced an agreed text in which could be submitted to the General Assembly without controversy.

Despite the early hopes for a convention in which could be adopted by member states in 1979, in which took a decade as well as also successive drafts before the Convention was finalised. inside meantime, more countries via Africa as well as also Asia came on board, as well as some Islamic countries, so the Convention became more representative of worldwide concerns. The drafting process was also assisted by progress inside adoption of additional international agreements, including instruments relating to juvenile justice, foster care, as well as also adoption. The terms of these agreements informed many principles stated inside Convention.

Besides the United Nations, UN member states, as well as also inter-governmental organisations – e.g., World Health Organisation, the International Labor Organisation, as well as also (belatedly) UNICEF – some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) became involved inside drafting. The NGOs were not there as of right, although could be invited to make suggestions as well as also give feedback on drafts. As some of the NGOs had been involved in drafting additional international agreements around in which time, their input into the Convention was invaluable. In about 1983, human rights NGOs as well as also children’s NGOs joined forces, creating an NGO Ad Hoc Group in which put forward more consistent proposals to the working party established by the Commission on Human Rights. in which led to the NGOs having greater influence inside drafting process.

Several controversial issues addressed during the drafting process included the definition of a child, the determination of fundamental freedoms, protecting the best interests of children who are being adopted, as well as also the minimum age in which children can be participants in armed conflict.

The definition of a child can be open as to when childhood starts, although the preamble of the Convention refers to children before as well as also after birth. The upper age – when childhood ends – was set at 18 because in which was the age of adulthood in most countries. The fundamental freedoms include freedom of association, religion, as well as also communication. Adoption was a big issue because certain countries had previously allowed poorly regulated inter-country adoption of their children.

Many states wanted the minimum age in which children can be participants in armed conflict to be set at 18, the age when children cease to be covered by the Convention, in order in which children could effectively be excluded via participation in armed conflict. However consensus was not able to be achieved on in which age. inside end, the age was set at 15. In ratifying the Convention since in which was adopted, some states have declined to accept the notion of children being engaged in armed conflict as well as also have reserved their position on in which provision of the Convention.

in which was not until 1989, a full 10 years after the International Year of the Child, in which the Convention was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. As most countries as well as also states inside globe have today ratified the Convention, in which has truly become “the international legal framework” for protecting as well as also promoting children’s rights (Arbour). Under article 4 of the Convention, states who are parties are required to “undertake all appropriate legislative, administrative as well as also additional measures” necessary to give effect to the rights as well as also principles stated inside Convention. in which obligation can be not discretionary. in which means in which subject to the resources they have available, all state parties must allocate public funds to ensure in which laws, policies as well as also programs within the state are consistent with the rights recognised inside Convention. Australia as well as also brand new Zealand ratified the Convention in 1990 as well as also 1993 respectively. Although the United States has signed the Convention, in which has not ratified in which, which means in which the United States can be not a party state as well as also can be not obligated to implement the principles of the Convention.

The general principles of the Convention, as they are today recognised, are the right to non-discrimination (article 2), the primacy of the best interests of the child (article 3), the right to life, survival as well as also development (article 6), as well as also the right to be heard (article 12). These general principles are often used as a guide to the interpretation of additional principles, which fall into two categories: negative rights (where the state should not interfere with the exercise of the right) as well as also positive rights (where the state must facilitate the exercise of the right). Another way of categorising rights can be to consider their adoption historically, in order in which civil as well as also political rights may be regarded as ‘first generation rights’, economic, social as well as also cultural rights may be regarded as ‘second generation rights’, as well as also ‘solidarity rights’ such as the right to peace as well as also the right to a clean environment may be regarded as ‘third generation rights’.

In assessing the ‘best interests of the child’, which can be not defined inside Convention itself, reference can today be made to the UNHCR Guidelines on Determining the Best Interests of the Child (May 2008). in which can be an important document in which complements the Convention as well as also assists child protection practitioners to identify what can be inside best interests of a specific child or group of children in their unique circumstances.

The Convention can be also an example of the specialisation of rights. Although the right to not be discriminated against can be applicable to both adults as well as also children, the best interests principle as well as also the right to life, survival as well as also development are examples of rights in which more specifically apply to children under international law. These specialised rights include the right of children to live with their parents, subject to child protection concerns in which might prevent in which, as well as also the right to play. In in which way, the Convention may be regarded as both a statement regarding the needs of children, as well as also a ‘code of conduct’ in which tells parents as well as also additional adults how they should behave towards children in their care as well as also in their community. Internationally, the Convention stands as a guide to the minimum level of rights in which should apply to children everywhere. Where a state has ratified the Convention, in which gains the force of law. In in which context, an important optional protocol, adopted in 2011, can be the ‘communication protocol’ which allows children (or groups of children) directly or through their representatives to address the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child regarding allegations in which rights under the Convention have been violated. However, any review rights arising inside home state of the child or children must be exhausted first unless an emergency situation can be recognised by the Committee. In some cases the home state may be asked by the committee to take steps to protect a child who comes to the committee’s attention.

An important ongoing feature of the Convention can be implemented pursuant to the ‘third optional protocol of the convention’ (the OPIC) which establishes a committee to monitor states’ compliance with the Convention. The committee comprises 18 independent experts who are appointed for terms of 4 years, as well as also who serve personally not on behalf of their home states. States who are parties to the Convention file reports on their compliance. The committee also receives ‘shadow reports’ via NGOs operating in each state. in which aspect of the Convention can be unique, as no additional international treaty expressly reserves a role for specialist agencies in monitoring compliance. Following consideration of the state as well as also NGO reports, the committee will send a list of issues or concerns to the state party. in which may lead to dialogue between representatives of the state as well as also the committee, as well as also formal recommendations being issued by the committee. In appropriate circumstances, the committee can offer technical as well as also financial assistance to a state to help in which in meeting its obligations under the Convention. The committee also issues formal comments on aspects of the Convention, as a guide to interpretation as well as also implementation.

The issue of children’s rights can be closely bound up with children’s well-being as well as also happiness. While obtaining reliable data about well-being as well as also happiness can be difficult, particularly in relation to young children, a lot of work has been done inside past couple of decades to measure factors such as children’s physical health, mental health, self-esteem as well as also lifestyle. in which kind of well-being data can be valuable as a guide to how children are developing towards adulthood, as well as also can help us identify specific issues affecting individual children or groups of children. In 2007, UNICEF published international data in its Report Card Number 7 which included indicators of children’s well-being for once (UNICEF, 2007). Although in which continuing work can be at an early stage, in which has the potential to inform further development of the Convention, recognising in which children’s happiness can be a product of many factors in which can have serious lifelong implications for individuals in terms of how they relate to others in society, the contributions they make within society, as well as also the overall quality of life they enjoy.

in which evolving view of children’s rights represents a maturation of our awareness of children’s needs as well as also how meeting those needs promotes a better future for us all. in which has been suggested in which the Convention’s “major accomplishment” can be increasing the visibility of children in society, in order in which children’s rights are not easily ignored (Lee). The Convention stands out amongst all international treaties as the one ratified by the most states, which can be an almost universal acknowledgment of the importance of our children to our planet’s future as well as also recognition in which the protection of children’s rights must have primacy regardless of additional demands on our resources. Moreover, ratification of the Convention by a state has often been closely followed by the establishment of an independent public institution focused on the rights of children. In brand new Zealand in which independent institution can be the Children’s Commissioner, while in Australia in which can be the National Children’s Commissioner. As at 2012, there were more than 200 such institutions throughout the globe – under a range of names including ‘ombudsman’, child advocate, as well as also ‘child rights commission’ – engaged to “monitor the actions of governments as well as also additional entities, advance the realization of children’s rights, receive complaints, provide remedies for violations, as well as also offer a space for dialogue about children in society as well as also between children as well as also the state” (UNICEF, 2012). In Australia, the Australian Human Rights Commission has described the Convention as “underpin[ning] the work of the National Children’s Commissioner” (AHRC).

Despite the extraordinary efforts of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, the UN member states in which have ratified the Convention, NGOs in which report to the committee, as well as also independent public institutions in member states, there can be considerable work still to be done to overcome breaches of the Convention, as well as also to address remaining areas of contention such as child marriage as well as also juvenile justice. The criminal law can be sometimes criticised for treating children like little adults (Edwards). Even Australia as well as also brand new Zealand struggle with the divide between care as well as also protection issues as well as also criminality. brand new Zealand’s Children’s Commissioner has identified the need to “avoid an unhelpful, rigorous split between the youth justice as well as also care as well as also protection provisions [of legislation] by allowing a cross-over between the two parts” echoing a similar warning by the former President of the Children’s Court of brand new South Wales in Australia. The brand new Zealand Commissioner describes the “trenchant criticism” by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child when brand new Zealand extended the jurisdiction of its Youth Court in October 2010 to include indictable offending by 12 as well as also 13 year olds. Part of the answer here can be improved upon understanding of the neuropsychological factors present in youth offending, as well as also how culpability should be attributed in light of those factors. In a relatively recent decision, Graham v Florida 130 S. Ct. 2011, the Supreme Court of the United States – noting in which inside US at in which time there were 123 juvenile non-homicide offenders serving sentences of life imprisonment without parole, as well as also in which in Florida “a 5-year-old, theoretically, could receive [life without parole] under the letter of the law” – recognised in which “developments in psychology as well as also brain science continue to show fundamental differences between juvenile as well as also adult minds” in which must be taken into account when sentencing juvenile offenders.

In relation to child marriage, in which can be notable in which as at 2012 about one-third of girls in developing countries (additional than China) were likely to be married before turning 18. Despite a majority of states having ratified the Convention, the same UNFPA report suggests in which inside decade via 2010 to 2020 there are likely to be around 142 million child marriages worldwide. Although there are many reasons for the persistence of child marriage, the effects can be devastating. A significant feature of child marriage in some countries can be the practice of paying off debts as well as also resolving disputes by giving away a young girl child – a practice sometimes known as ‘swara’ – where the child becomes effectively enslaved to her husband, as well as also can be often punished for the alleged wrongdoing of her family.

The widespread ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child stands as a testament to the values expressed within in which – values in which have been carefully considered as well as also in which bring “the weight of the law to the recognition of morally based individual rights for children” (Da Silva et al.) – as well as also the work of innumerable contributors via around the globe. While the Convention can be neither complete nor wholly effective, in which can be nonetheless a major influence on the well-being of children in most developed countries. Even in developing countries, the Convention as well as also its monitoring processes are slowly encouraging positive change. For example, between 2000 as well as also 2014 the number of children engaged in child labour declined by about one-third (UNICEF, 2014). While in which might be expressed as still two-thirds too many, for those children who can today attend school instead of work, in which change can be dramatic as well as also life-changing. Similar patterns can be seen in many additional areas of children’s rights. Perhaps most remarkable can be in which all in which has happened in less than 30 years. By any measure in which can be a laudable achievement.

Source by Stephen G Bourne

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