Children’s human rights and the UNCRC
Convention on the Rights of the Child
Human rights are a set of basic things that every human being should have, like the right to be free, the right to say what you think, and the right to be treated with dignity and respect.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is a human rights treaty (agreement) that was agreed by the United Nations in 1989. It gives children and young people all over the world over 40 major rights.
These rights include the right to a family life, the right to be protected from all types of violence, the right to be healthy, the right to have a say and to be taken seriously, and the right to have an education that helps you grow as a person. The UNCRC gives extra rights to children living in very difficult circumstances, including children in trouble with the law, and refugee and asylum-seeking children.
In 1991, the UK Government agreed to follow the UNCRC. This means that the Government has to do everything it can to put the UNCRC into practice for children in the UK.
Checking children’s rights
Every 5 years, the UK Government must send a report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child to say how it is putting the UNCRC into practice. Charities, children’s commissioners, and children and young people can also send evidence to the UN about the children’s rights situation in their country.
The UN Committee is a group of 18 international human rights experts in Geneva, Switzerland, which examines how well governments respect and protect children’s human rights.
Based on its examination, which includes meeting NGOs, children and the Government, the UN Committee makes recommendations about where the Government must do more to protect children’s human rights. These are called concluding observations. By agreeing to follow the UNCRC, the Government has agreed to take action on the concluding observations.
The last examination of the UK was in 2008.
Every year, CRAE checks what the Government is doing to put the Committee’s recommendations into practice. This is called our State of children’s rights in England report. Read our 2009 report here
Government and Parliament – what do they do for children’s rights?
The Government manages the country and makes important decisions about the way the country is run. Many of the Government’s decisions about law and policy have to be approved by Parliament. Because the UK Government has signed up to the CRC, it should make sure that all its laws and policies respect, protect and strengthen children’s rights.
Parliament makes and changes laws in the UK. It is made up of the House of Commons, the House of Lords and the Queen. Each of these has to agree to any new law (a Bill) before it can be passed (and become an Act of Parliament).
CRAE campaigns in Parliament with MPs (elected members of the House of Commons) and Peers (people who sit in the House of Lords) to make sure that new laws and policies respect children’s human rights.