A new generation of children are growing up with a lot less hope than their parents did. Many are facing an uncertain future as a result of climate change, global economic instability, and the political turmoil. This is making it harder for couples to make the decision to have children. Having kids also makes it more difficult to maintain the travel and all-day brunch lifestyles that we love. It’s no wonder that so many people are waiting until they’re older to start a family.
Children’s rights are the things that every child is born with, like the right to live, to be safe, to learn, to play and to be protected from violence and discrimination. The world’s governments recognise children’s unique status as future adults and they are obliged to protect them. This protection is reflected in the international human rights law and ‘soft’ laws that recognise the needs of children, based on their age, stage of development, vulnerability, and capacity to express themselves.
In the past, children’s rights have been recognised through a variety of international bodies, treaties and laws that grew out of World War II. In 1953, UNICEF was created as a permanent part of the United Nations and it began to tackle the problem of malnutrition in Europe’s children. UNICEF was also responsible for the world-wide campaign against yaws, a disease that had disfigured millions of children.
Since then, much progress has been made in defending the rights of children, with the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1959. Children are now guaranteed the right to a standard of living that allows them to be healthy and happy, including food, shelter, education, health care and a safe place to play.
The Convention recognises that children are more vulnerable than adults and therefore need special protection. It requires that governments ensure that children are safe, are able to participate in decisions affecting them (with varying degrees of participation depending on their age and maturity) and that they receive effective remedies for harm, abuse or violations of their rights. The Convention also requires that governments fight against the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict.
However, it is important to recognise that this Convention does not replace or supersede national and state laws, which can continue to guarantee the rights of children. The Convention simply aims to complement these national and state laws and to strengthen them, so that they provide a more complete and comprehensive protection for all children. This is essential in order to realise the full potential of every child.