Skip to Content

The Convention on the Rights of the Child entered into force on 2 September 1990 and was the first legally binding international instrument to incorporate the full range of human rights—civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. The four core principles of the Convention are: non-discrimination; devotion to the best interests of the child; the right to life, survival and development; and respect for the views of the child.

Click to go to more information on each of the following: 
Committee on the Rights of the Child  
Relevant provisions  
Interpretation of the provisions
Government reporting obligations  
Ratifications

The Convention on the Rights of the Child

Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography

Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict 

Committee on the Rights of the Child

This Committee consists of A panel of 18 independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by its State parties. There is no mechanism for individual complaints to be taken to the committee but there are reporting obligations on States.

“The Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by its State parties. It also monitors implementation of two optional protocols to the Convention, on involvement of children in armed conflict and on sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.

All States parties are obliged to submit regular reports to the Committee on how the rights are being implemented. States must report initially two years after acceding to the Convention and then every five years. The Committee examines each report and addresses its concerns and recommendations to the State party in the form of “concluding observations”.

The Committee reviews additional reports which must be submitted by States who have acceded to the two Optional Protocols to the Convention.”

“The Committee cannot consider individual complaints, although child rights may be raised before other committees with competence to consider individual complaints.

The Committee meets in Geneva and normally holds three sessions per year consisting of a three-week plenary and a one-week pre-sessional working group. In 2006, the Committee considered reports in two parallel chambers of 9 members each, "as an exceptional and temporary measure", in order to clear the backlog of reports.

The Committee also publishes its interpretation of the content of human rights provisions, known as general comments on thematic issues and organizes days of general discussion.(OHCHR)

For more information about the work of the Committee click here  

Interpretation of the Provisions

Relevant general comments

General Comments made by the treaty bodies are constructed with the purpose of clarification of how a given treaty provision is to be interpreted. They are a valuable source of guidance in this regard.

CRC General Comment 1 - The aims of education
CRC General Comment 5 – General measures of implementation for the Convention on the Rights of the Child

To see CRC General Comments click here

The preamble to a treaty is useful in ascertaining the purpose of the law, and therefore as a guide as to how it should be interpreted.
See the preamble here

For further guidance on interpreting the Convention, follow the link to the excellent Litigating Economic, Social and Cultural Rights:
Legal Practitioners Dossier released by the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) at p.130
(AAI)

CRC Governments' Reporting Obligations

All States parties are obliged to submit regular reports to the Committee on how the rights are being implemented. States must report initially two years after acceding to the Convention and every five years thereafter. Those States which have acceded the two Optional Protocols to the Convention must also submit additional reports.

 

2. Reports made under the present article shall indicate factors and difficulties, if any, affecting the degree of fulfilment of the obligations under the present Convention. Reports shall also contain sufficient information to provide the Committee with a comprehensive understanding of the implementation of the Convention in the country concerned.

 

Ratifications

As of December 2010: Signatories 140, Parties 193.

Every country in the world has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child except for two: Somalia and the United States of America.

To see the status of ratifications, as well as declarations and reservations click here

Relevant Provisions

Article 28

1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to education, and with a view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of equal opportunity, they shall, in particular:
(a) Make primary education compulsory and available free to all;
(c) Make higher education accessible to all on the basis of capacity by every appropriate means;
(d) Make educational and vocational information and guidance available and accessible to all children;
(e) Take measures to encourage regular attendance at schools and the reduction of drop-out rates.

2. 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.
3. States Parties shall promote and encourage international cooperation in matters relating to education, in particular with a view to contributing to the elimination of ignorance and illiteracy throughout the world and facilitating access to scientific and technical knowledge and modern teaching methods. In this regard, particular account shall be taken of the needs of developing countries.

Article 29
1. 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 or 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 or she may originate, and for civilizations different from his or 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.
2. No part of the present article or article 28 shall be construed so as to interfere with the liberty of individuals and bodies to establish and direct educational institutions, subject always to the observance of the principle set forth in paragraph 1 of the present article and to the requirements that the education given in such institutions shall conform to such minimum standards as may be laid down by the State.

See General Comment No. 1 on article 29 here

NB - The CRC puts the onus on governments to make sure that education conforms to the 4-A framework and actually encompasses the whole learning experience (or process), rather than just schooling.

Article 2
1. States Parties shall respect and ensure the rights set forth in the present Convention to each child within their jurisdiction without discrimination of any kind, irrespective of the child's or his or her parent's or legal guardian's race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status.
2. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that the child is protected against all forms of discrimination or punishment on the basis of the status, activities, expressed opinions, or beliefs of the child's parents, legal guardians, or family members.

NB - The language of article 2 itself and its interpretation by the Committee on the Rights of the Child emphasize that the obligation of States Parties to prevent discrimination is an active one, requiring, like other aspects of implementation, a range of measures that include review, strategic planning, legislation, monitoring, awareness-raising, education and information campaigns, and evaluation of measures taken to reduce disparities. 

 

1. States Parties undertake to submit to the Committee, through the Secretary-General of the United Nations, reports on the measures they have adopted which give effect to the rights recognized herein and on the progress made on the enjoyment of those rights
(a) Within two years of the entry into force of the Convention for the State Party concerned;
(b) Thereafter every five years.