On November 20th, 1989 the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child was signed. This Convention is a human rights treaty that lays out the various rights of children such as political, economic, social, health, civil and cultural rights. At a high level, the Convention on the Rights of the Child requires that countries act in the best interests of the child. The Convention honors the basic rights of the child such as his or her right to life, right to his or her name, right to be raised by his or her parents, etc. The Convention also acknowledges rights that are more abstract, such as the right to express one’s opinion, the right to protection (from abuse or other related factors).

Countries who have signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child

To date, 195 countries around the world have signed this Convention. All member countries of the United Nations are parties to the treaty with the exception of the United States and Somalia, however the US has signed the treaty but not yet ratified it. Despite the Convention’s release in 1989, it has been signed and ratified by different countries in different years.

Why this Convention is Important

This treaty has revolutionized the way a child is viewed. It has led children to be viewed as human beings with their own sets of rights, as opposed to simply being someone’s “property”. The truth of the matter is that there are still many children worldwide whose rights are not recognized, but since the Convention was put into place, dramatic positive changes have taken place. UNICEF has published some outstanding statistics that have resulted as outcomes of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. To name a few:

  • “The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the first international treaty to explicitly recognize the rights of children with disabilities…”
  • “The percentage of children who are underweight has dropped by 37% since 1990.”
  • “From 1990 to 2011, early childhood education enrollment has increased from 33% to 50%.”