Skip to Content

International human rights law

The following pages link to the major international human rights treaties. Please follow the links to general explanations about international law, what it means and how it works.

All children have the Right to Education. It has been recognised by the international community since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948. The right to free and compulsory primary education of good quality and without discrimination is now enshrined in a range of international human rights conventions, signed and ratified by almost all countries in the world. Many of these same instruments encourage, but do not guarantee, post-primary education. These rights have been further elaborated to address issues of, for example, quality and equity, moving forward the issue of what the right to education is, and exploring exactly how it can be achieved.  There are numerous international and national commitments stating that girls have a legal right to education, including equal access; however, the existence of these international conventions and other tools has not been sufficient to secure education for all girls. Gender is still the largest simple cause of systematic discrimination

“International human rights law lays down a three-way set of criteria, whereby girls should have an equal right to education and equal rights in education, and their equal rights should be promoted through education..” (Tomasevski, 2005)

How to use the law? See the section Complaints to UN and international bodies.

See also:







“ A lot of interesting NGO coalition work goes on around child rights, esp. in relation to the CRC [link], much of it linking activists and organisation together using the internet. The following broader initiatives are particularly relevant, highlighting the need to see the right to education in the wider scope of child’s rights work:

CRIN – Child Rights Information Network

NGO Group for the CRC