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Children's Rights

  • UN documents related to Children
  • Read the list of rights


    Every child has the inherent right to life, and States shall ensure to the maximum child survival and development.
    Every child has the right to a name and nationality from birth. 
    Children shall not be separated from their parents, except by competent authorities for their well-being. 
    -States shall facilitate reunification of families by permitting travel into, or out of, their territories. 
    Parents have the primary responsibility for a child's upbringing, but States shall provide them with appropriate assistance and develop child-care institutions.
    States shall protect children from physical or mental harm and neglect, including sexual abuse or exploitation. 
    States shall provide parentless children with suitable alternative care. The adoption process shall be carefully regulated and international agreements should be sought to provide safeguards and assure legal validity if and when adoptive parents intend to move a child from his or her country of birth. 
    Disabled children shall have the right to special treatment, education and care. 
    Children are entitled to the highest attainable standard of health. States shall ensure that health care is provided to all children, placing emphasis on preventive measures, health education and reduction of infant mortality.  
    Primary education shall be free and compulsory. Discipline in schools shall respect the child's dignity. Education should prepare the child for life in a spirit of understanding, peace and tolerance.
    Children shall have time to rest and play and equal opportunities for cultural and artistic activities.
    States shall protect children from economic exploitation and from work that may interfere with their education or be harmful to their health or well-being.
    States shall protect children from the illegal use of drugs and involvement in drug production or trafficking.
    All efforts shall be made to eliminate the abduction and trafficking of children.
    Capital punishment or life imprisonment shall not be imposed for crimes committed before the age of 18.
    Children in detention shall be separated from adults; they must not be tortured or suffer cruel or degrading
    No child under 15 shall take any part in hostilities; children exposed to armed conflict shall receive special
    Children of minority and indigenous populations shall freely enjoy their own culture, religion and language.
    Children who have suffered mistreatment, neglect or exploitation shall receive appropriate treatment or training for recovery and rehabilitation.
    Children involved in infringements of the penal law shall be treated in a way that promotes their sense of dignity and worth and aims at reintegrating them into society.
    States shall make the rights set out in the Convention widely known to both adults and children.

Protecting Children Online

Protecting children online is a global challenge, which requires a global approach. While many efforts to improve child online protection are already under way, their reach has been more national than global.

ITU launched the Child Online Protection (COP) Initiative in November 2008 as a multi-stakeholder effort within the Global Cybersecurity Agenda (GCA) framework. The initiative brings together partners from all sectors of the global community to create a safe and empowering online experience for children around the world.

COP was presented to the ITU Council in 2008 and endorsed by the UN Secretary-General, Heads of State, Ministers and heads of international organizations from around the world.

COP takes a holistic approach to promoting child online safety, developing strategies that span five key areas:

  • Legal measures
  • Technical and Procedural Measures
  • Organizational Structures
  • Capacity Building
  • International Cooperation

[ read more ]

The Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is the body of 18 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 (OPAC) and on sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (OPSC). On 19 December 2011, the UN General Assembly approved a third Optional Protocol on a communications procedure (OPIC), which allow individual children to submit complaints regarding specific violations of their rights under the Convention and its first two optional protocols. The Protocol entered into force in April 2014.

In its resolution 7/29 on the Rights of the Child adopted in March 2008, the Human Rights Council affirmed “its commitment to effectively integrate the rights of the child in its work and that of its mechanisms in a regular, systematic and transparent manner, taking into account specific needs of boys and girls”. It also decided “to incorporate into its programme of work sufficient time, at a minimum an annual full-day meeting, to discuss different specific themes on the rights of the child, including the identification of challenges in the realization of the rights of the child, as well as measures and best practices that can be adopted by States and other stakeholders, and to assess the effective integration of the rights of the child it its work, beginning in 2009”.

[more information and reports ]

Despite progress in the realization of children’s rights, as set out in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, too many commitments remain unfulfilled. This is particularly true for children deprived of liberty, who often remain invisible and forgotten.

Most countries lack data on the number of children deprived of liberty, on the reasons, length and places of detention. Children’s detention may be decided by judicial, administrative or other bodies, including the police, military authorities, immigration officials, child protection or welfare bodies, health professionals, and non-state actors, including in situations of armed conflict.

Children living on the street, victims of trafficking, prostitution, organized crime and conflict situations are at special risk. Others may end up in detention as a result of a disability, mental health or drug abuse, or because of their migration or asylum seeking status.

In situations of armed conflict, detention is used by military or national security actors as a tool to hold vast numbers of children because they are perceived as a threat to national security or because they have allegedly participated in hostilities.

the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, by resolution 69/157, invited the UN Secretary-General to commission an in-depth global study on children deprived of liberty. On 25 October 2016, the Secretary General welcomed the selection of Manfred Nowak as Independent expert to lead the new global study on the situation of children deprived of liberty.

SRSGVC - website

In 2001, General Assembly Resolution 56/138 requested the Secretary-General to conduct an in-depth study on the question of violence against children, following a recommendation of the Committee on the Rights of the Child. In 2003, the Secretary-General appointed Paulo Sergio Pinheiro as independent expert to lead the study.

The UN Secretary-General’s Study on Violence against Children addressed violence against children in five settings: the family, schools, alternative care institutions and detention facilities, places where children work and communities. The Study called for urgent action to prevent and respond to all forms of violence and presented a set of recommendations to guide the process of follow up. To promote dissemination of the Study and ensure an effective follow up to its recommendations, the Study called for the appointment of a Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence against Children (SRSG).

The General Assembly took note of the Study’s recommendations and requested the appointment by the Secretary-General of a Special Representative on violence against children to act as a high-profile, global independent advocate to promote prevention and elimination of all forms of violence against children (Resolution 62/141).

UN General Assembly - Resolution on Bullying of Children

Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 18 December 2014

[on the report of the Third Committee (A/69/484)] 69/158.

Protecting children from bullying

The General Assembly, Emphasizing that the Convention on the Rights of the Child

[1] constitutes the standard in the promotion and protection of the rights of the child and that States parties to the Convention shall undertake all appropriate legislative, administrative and other measures for the implementation of the rights recognized therein, Recalling all its previous resolutions on the rights of the child and the resolutions adopted by the Human Rights Council that are relevant to the protection of children against bullying, Recalling also the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training,

[2] and noting the adoption of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Declaration of Principles on Tolerance,

[3] Taking note of the United Nations report on violence against children of 2006,

[4] the report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children entitled “Tackling violence in schools: a global perspective — bridging the gap between standards and practice”, the 2014 thematic report entitled “Releasing children’s potential and minimizing risks: information and communication technologies, the Internet and violence against children” and the 2014 report of the United Nations Children’s Fund on violence against children, entitled “Hidden in plain sight: a statistical analysis of violence against children”, which included references regarding bullying, Recognizing that bullying, including cyberbullying, can be expressed through violence and aggression and that bullying in any form can have a negative impact on the rights of children and their well-being, and aware of the need to prevent and eliminate bullying among children,

Concerned about the occurrence of bullying in different parts of the world and the fact that children who are victimized by their peers may be at heightened risk for a wide range of emotional problems, as well as potential long-term effects on the individual’s ability to realize his or her own potential, Acknowledging that in some countries, relevant United Nations agencies and mechanisms have been providing, upon request, technical cooperation and support to enhance national capacities to address and prevent bullying,



Recognizing that the family has the primary responsibility for the nurturing and protection of children, in the best interests of the child, and that children, for the full and harmonious development of their personality, should grow up in a family environment and in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding,

Recognizing also that environments surrounding children can affect their behaviour, and recognizing further the important role that family members, legal guardians, caregivers, teachers and civil society have and that the media should have in the prevention of bullying,

Recognizing further the importance of generating appropriate statistical information on bullying, Noting the risks associated with the misuse of new information and communication technologies and applications, including increased vulnerability to bullying, while stressing that these can create new ways to enhance education and, inter alia, learn and teach about the rights of the child, and can be useful tools to promote children’s protection,

Recognizing that children in vulnerable situations can be at greater risk of being bullied and that children may face different forms of bullying,

1. Recognizes that bullying, including cyberbullying, can have a potential long-term impact on the enjoyment of the human rights of children and negative effects on children affected by or involved in bullying;

2. Also recognizes that bullying can be associated with, inter alia, discrimination and stereotypes, and that action must be taken to prevent bullying on any basis;

3. Encourages Member States: (a) To take all appropriate measures to prevent and protect children, including in school, from any form of violence, including forms of bullying, by promptly responding to such acts, and to provide appropriate support to children affected by and involved in bullying; (b) To continue to promote and invest in education, including as a long-term and lifelong process by which everyone learns tolerance and respect for the dignity of others and the means and methods of ensuring such respect in all societies; (c) To generate statistical information and data disaggregated by sex, age and other relevant variables at the national level, and to provide information on disability, with regard to the problem of bullying, as a basis on which to elaborate effective public policies; (d) To raise public awareness, involving family members, legal guardians, caregivers, youth, schools, communities, community leaders and the media as well as civil society organizations, with the participation of children, regarding the protection of children from bullying; (e) To share national experiences and best practices for preventing and tackling bullying, including cyberbullying;

4. Requests the Secretary-General, using information provided by Member States and relevant stakeholders, in collaboration with relevant United Nations entities, to submit a report to the General Assembly at its seventy-first session on protecting children from bullying, with an emphasis on causes and effects, good practices and guidance to prevent and respond to bullying.

73rd plenary meeting 18 December 2014



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