Twenty-One Years of the CRC: The Rights of the Child Come of Age?
Diver, Alice, McNamee, Eugene and Thornton, Liam (2011) Twenty-One Years of the CRC: The Rights of the Child Come of Age? In: Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly (2011) Vol. 62(2). (Eds: Diver, Alice, McNamee, Eugene and Thornton, Liam), SLS Legal Publications (N.I.) ISBN 9780862052911
10 Pages Posted: 3 Nov 2015
Date Written: July 2, 2011
In 2010, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) reached the age of 21, and arguably, ‘came of age’. The Children’s Convention was not the first international instrument that attempted to protect the rights of the child however. 1924 saw the enactment of one of the first legal instruments to explicitly recognise that children, as human persons, ought to enjoy certain inalienable rights. It was recognised that children are often the first and hardest impacted upon in times of conflict or economic hardship. The 1924 Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child outlined the duty of all nations, and indeed individuals within states to protect weak, marginalised or impoverished children. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights further highlighted the need to protect the rights of the child to receive “special care and assistance”. In 1959, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child which contained ten principles, recognising inter alia the duty of non-discrimination in the enjoyment of such rights; the concept of best interests of the child as a ‘guiding principle’ (in respect of education and child development), the right to play, the right to social security, protection from trafficking and the need to adopt special measures to ensure that disabled children would also enjoy such protections. Some thirty years after this declaration, and a decade after the International Year of the Child, the UN General Assembly approved the text of the CRC and opened the Convention for signature and ratification by states.
By 2010, the CRC had been ratified by every state in the world, with the exception of Somalia and the United States. The CRC ostensibly represented a fundamental commitment to the recognition of the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of children. The ‘best interests of the child’ principle is now deemed to be the primary, if not paramount, consideration in all public and private actions which relate to children. From the right of children to be heard (i.e. when decisions are made which will affect them) to protections for asylum seeking and refugee children, the right to life, freedom from torture and a right to a decent standard of living, the CRC seeks to provide a comprehensive declaration of the rights in respect of all children.
Keywords: Children's Rights, Convention on the Rights of the Child
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