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UN Convention on the Rights of the child

United Nations Convention on the Right of the Child


What is the UN convention?

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is the basis of all of UNICEF’s work. It is the most complete statement of children’s rights ever produced and is the most widely-ratified international human rights treaty in history.


You can read the full UN Convention, or just a summary to find out more about the rights that are included.

There are four articles in the Convention that are seen as special. They’re known as the “General Principles” and they help to interpret all the other articles and play a fundamental role in realizing all the rights in the Convention for all children. They are:

  1. Non-discrimination (Article 2)
  2. Best interest of the child (Article 3)
  3. Right to life survival and development (Article 6)
  4. Right to be heard (Article 12)


The Convention also contains a number of agreements to add further, unique rights for children that are optional for countries – they are called “Optional Protocols”. They include:

  1. The Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict
    This requires governments to increase the minimum age that children can join the armed forces from 15 years and to ensure that members of their armed forces under the age of 18 do not take a direct part in armed conflict.
  2. The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography
    This provides detailed requirements for governments to end the sexual exploitation and abuse of children. It also protects children from being sold for non-sexual purposes, such as other forms of forced labour, illegal adoption and organ donation.
  3. The Optional Protocol on a communications procedure
    This allows children to submit a complaint to the United Nations when their rights have been violated and their own country’s legal system were not able to offer a solution.