The Convention on the Rights of the Child

Soraya Shahabi

January 22, 2000

 

The General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Convention of the Rights of the child, drafted in 1979, on 20 November 1989 and last November was 10th anniversary of the convention.  On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the convention, organizations defending the Rights of the child held several meetings, gatherings and conferences to evaluate the effect of the convention in the lives of children.  The results of these evaluations indicate a trivial improvement of the conditions of the children’s lives and employment, instead, 10 years after the adoption of this treaty, the situations of children around the world significantly deteriorated.

 

It has been claimed that the Convention is the most advanced and the most loving human rights international treaty in history!  This is not a merely excessive claim concerning international ratification of treaties among governments and the United Nations.  Every country in the world except United Arab Emirates, Somalia and Oman has signed the Convention. 

 

There is no doubt that this is an advanced international treaty, yet it is a non-standard convention, bounded with barriers and restrictions.  There is no article in the Convention to enforce States for gratuitous care services and safeguarding of children.   Under The convention, achieving most of the provisions officially and practically depends on the conditions of the laws, states, religions, nations, cultures and families.   The Convention has double and discriminatory standards in different societies; although the Convention holds the national governments accountable to ensuring and protecting the rights of children, but there is no guaranty for enforcement.  It just recommends the states to accomplish its provisions; therefore, it is merely a forcible instrument.

 

The most important fact is that the United Nations, leading by the United States, and other economically powerful countries, is the root of inhuman  policies and it violates the rights of children by imposing policies like embargo and military invasion.  Just recently, millions of children in Iraq and Cuba have been victims of war and economic sanctions, that is children in both countries have been suffered and slaughtered via stoppage of food and drug trades imposed by the United States and its western allies.

 

In several cases, they use this convention only as an instrument for political and economical propaganda among conflicting governments and not for children’s wellbeing.

 

The Convention of the Rights of the child, regardless of all its restrictions and barriers, is a gain obtained and imposed by the movements of freedom lovers and equal rights activists; so it must be used as a watchdog to force states to respect the rights of children.  This Convention, during the last decade and in the absence of a progressive and advanced international human rights alternative, has been used and referred to by the non-governmental organizations and equal rights movements merely as a forcible instrument.

 

Imposing legislation and convention for the well-being of the society and forcing the governments to implement their demands, is part of the struggle to improve the conditions of the lives of people.  This is part of the struggle to enforce the real alternative, the struggle for an equal and humanitarian system.  This is part of a struggle for obtaining a system in which the rights of children is guaranteed.  This system is achievable only by abolishing capitalism.

 

The function of the Convention on the Rights of child is not to make basic and serious changes in the lives of children; it is just the rein to control the governments from violating the rights of children and it should be used and referred to in this capacity.  This should be used to fight for the rights of children, at the same time its restrictions must be criticized.  The Convention is imperfect and falls short for its double standards to the rights of children based on ideology, nationality, religion, wealth and family status, and it is indifferent with the poverty and inhuman conditions of children imposed by governments.  In spite of this imperfection, the Convention must be imposed to the international organizations for enforcement among countries and demand more in this regard in order to support a better alternative.

 

  Some important articles of the Convention on the Rights of the child are as follow.   The complete text of the Convention is available in the Web Site of the Children First in Farsi and English.

 

·                     States Parties recognize that every child has the inherent right to life.

·                     States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.

·                     The child shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child’s choice.

·                     States Parties shall respect the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

·                     States Parties recognize the rights of the child to freedom of association and to freedom of peaceful assembly.

·                     No child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his or her honour and reputation.

                    The child has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

·                     States Parties recognize the important function performed by the mass media and shall ensure that the child has access to information and material from a diversity of national and international sources, especially those aimed at the promotion of his or her social, spiritual and moral well-being and physical and mental health.

·                     States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that children of working parents have the right to benefit from child-care services and facilities for which they are eligible.

·                     States parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.

·                     States Parties recognize that a mentally or physically disabled child should enjoy a full and decent life, in conditions which ensure dignity, promote self-reliance, and facilitate the child’s active participation in the community.

·                     States Parties recognize the right of the child to enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and to facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health.  States Parties shall strive to ensure that no child is deprived of his/her right of access to such health care services.

·                     States Parties shall take all effective and appropriate measures with a view to abolishing traditional practices prejudicial to the health of children.

·                     States Parties shall recognize for every child the right to benefit from social security, including social insurance, and shall take the necessary measures to achieve the full realization of this right in accordance with their national law.

·                     States Parties recognize the right of every child to a standard of living adequate for the child’s physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development.

                   States Parties recognize the right of the child to education…

·                     States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that school discipline is administered in a manner consistent with the child’s human dignity and in conformity with the present Convention.

 

 

 

·                     States Parties agree that the education of the child shall be directed to:

·                     (a)  The development of the child’s personality, talents, and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential;

·                     (b)  The development of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and for the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations;

·                     ( c )  The development  of respect for the child’s parents, his/her own cultural identity, language and values, for the national values of the country in which the child is living, the country from which he/she may originate, and for civilizations different from his/her own;

·                     (d)   The preparation of the child for responsible life in a free society, in the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance, equality of sexes, and friendship among all peoples, ethnic, national and religious groups and persons of indigenous origin;

                    (e) The development of respect for the natural environment.

·                     In those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities or persons of indigenous origin exist, a child belonging to such a minority or who is indigenous shall not be denied the right, in community with other members of his/her group, to enjoy his/her own religion, or to use his/her own language.

·                     States parties recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.

·                       States Parties shall respect and promote the right of the child to participate fully in cultural and artistic life and shall encourage the provision of appropriate and equal opportunities for cultural, artistic, recreational and leisure activity.

·                     States Parties recognize the right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child’s education, or to be harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.

·                     States Parties shall take all appropriate measures, including legislative, administrative, social and educational measures, to protect children from the illicit use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances as defined in the relevant international treaties, and to prevent the use of children in the illicit production and trafficking of such substances.

·                     States Parties undertake to protect the child from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse.

·                     States Parties shall take all appropriate national, bilateral and multilateral measures to prevent the abduction of, the sale of or traffic in children for any purpose or in any form.

                     States Parties shall protect the child against all other forms of exploitation prejudicial to any aspects of the child’s welfare.

                     States Parties shall ensure that:

                     (a) No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.  Neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offences committed by persons below 18 years of age;

·                     States Parties undertake to respect and to ensure respect for rules of international humanitarian law applicable to them in armed conflicts which are relevant to the child.

·                     States Parties shall take all refrain from recruiting any person who has not attained the age of 15 years do not take a direct part in hostilities.

·                     States Parties shall refrain from recruiting any person who has not attained the age of 15 years into their armed forces.  In recruiting among those persons who have attained the age of 15 years but who have not attained the age of 18 years, States Parties shall endeavour to give priority to those who are oldest.

·                     States Parties recognize the right of every child alleged as, accused of, or recognized as having infringed the penal law to be treated in a manner consistent with the promotion of the child’s sense of dignity and worth, which reinforces the child’s respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of others and which takes into account the child’s age and the desirability of promoting the child’s reintegration and the child’s assuming a constructive role in society.

 

 

·                     Nothing in the present Convention shall affect any provisions which are more conducive to the realization of the rights of the child and which may be contained in:

                    (a)  The law of a State Party; or

                     (b) International law in force for that State