“I smile for children everywhere!” Commemorating the 30th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. by Rima Salah (ECPC Chair)

November 20, 2019
Two-year-old Franco reads from the Convention on the Rights of the Child. © 2019 Photo: Rana Turk Churillo

NEW YORK/NY (20 Nov 2019) —On this auspicious day, the commemoration of the adoption of the 30th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, it is the time to celebrate the children of the world. It is the time to celebrate the children of every country on this planet. The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is the most comprehensive statement of children’s rights ever produced and the most widely ratified international human rights treaty in history. Its 54 articles cover all aspects of a child’s life and set out the civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights of all children everywhere. The guiding principles of the Convention include: non-discrimination; the best interest of the child as a primary consideration in all actions concerning children; the child’s inherent right to life, survival and development; and the child’s right to express his or her views freely in all matters affecting them. 

The Convention heralded a new era of hope and action for children, an era of new ethics for the protection and care of children. It is the era that confirmed that every child has rights, whatever their ethnicity, gender, religion, language, abilities or any other status. It is the era that reaffirmed that the advancement of societies is inevitably linked to the well-being of their children.

We can say, without hesitation that the result of the implementation of the convention has transformed the lives of millions of children in the world. The global mortality rate for children under five has declined significantly. Hundreds of millions of children are being vaccinated and have access to clean water and adequate nutrition. Millions more children are going to school. More countries have translated the international treaty into their national laws and policies, ensuring that all of their children enjoy all of their rights.

Unfortunately, our celebration cannot be complete as progress has been made true only for some, with millions of children left behind and their rights to thrive and grow to their full potential denied. This is because of poverty, exclusion, neglect, violence (structural and systemic), compounded by violent conflicts and displacement.

As we celebrate this significant anniversary, let us unite our strengths and reaffirm our commitment to uphold and fulfill the rights of all children wherever they are. Let us put a smile on the face of every child, like Franco’s smile in the picture. Franco is telling us, “I am smiling for children everywhere so that they smile back and shine, full of hope for the future”!

► Learn more about the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

► Read the child-friendly version of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

► Take action on the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child:  Take the Global Pledge:  For Every Child, Every Right.

► Take the Early Childhood Peace Consortium ECPC Pledge to Action for Peace.

#WorldChildrensDay #CRC30 #ChildrensRights

Dr. Rima Salah is ECPC Chair, and former Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and former Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF. She served as a member of the United Nations High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations. She is currently at the Child Study Center, School of Medicine, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA.


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