Children's Rights 

Children's rights are at the heart of everything UNICEF does.

What are Children’s Rights?

Children’s rights are the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights that all children everywhere are entitled to as set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

These rights include the rights to an education, to play, to access health care, to have a voice, to be protected from violence and abuse and to have an adequate standard of living.

  • All children have the same rights. No matter where they live or who they are.
  • No matter their race. No matter their sex or any other status.
  • A child is a child.
  • All children in Ireland, and around the world, have the same rights – the right to survive, to thrive and to fulfill their potential.

What is the Convention on the Rights of the Child?

Adopted on November 20th 1989, 30 years ago this year, the Convention on the Rights of the Child or CRC, recognised that while children are entitled to the same human rights as adults, they also have specific rights that recognise their special needs and evolving capacities. Children are neither the property of their parents nor are they helpless objects of charity. They are human beings and are the subject of their own rights. The Convention provides the legal and moral framework for all of UNICEF’s work.

The CRC recognises the fundamental human dignity of all children and the urgency of ensuring their well-being and development. It clearly states that children’s views should be heard and considered in the political process and that a basic quality of life should be the right of all children, rather than a privilege enjoyed by a few.

The CRC is based around four general principles: no child should experience discrimination (article 2); the best interests of the child should be the primary consideration in all actions concerning children (article 3); children have a right to survive and develop to their full potential (article 6); and children have a right to be heard in all matters affecting them (article 12).

The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the world’s most ratified human rights treaty and Ireland ratified the CRC in 1992.

Download a child-friendly version of the Convention on the Rights of the Child

To read the full Convention, visit here.

The CRC in Ireland

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (the CRC Committee) is a group of 18 independent experts who regularly examine countries to monitor their implementation of the Convention.

The CRC Committee last reviewed Ireland in 2016 and released their ‘Concluding observations’.

In their latest report, the CRC Committee highlighted the progress that’s been made on the implementation of the Convention in Ireland. However, it also raised a number of ongoing concerns, particularly highlighting issues around the legal status of the Convention, legislative integration, the allocation of resources, data collection, dissemination, awareness-raising and training around the CRC and independent monitoring.

Read the Committee’s full ‘Concluding observations’, along with UNICEF’s child-friendly version.


30th Anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

In 2019, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) turned 30. Over the past 30 years, children’s lives have been transformed across the world.

Governments have taken actions to ensure more children survive, develop and have decisions taken in their best interests, fewer suffer discrimination and more can participate in their societies, but not every child enjoys childhood.

Millions of children still suffer violations of their rights when they are denied an adequate standard of living, healthcare, nutrition, education and protection from violence, among others.

We must and we can do more.

Across the world, children are standing up and demanding change. Fighting for their rights and their futures.

In 2019, it is children who see these new challenges and opportunities most clearly. Young people are speaking out for their right to an education, demanding an end to discrimination, marching against violence in schools, striking for action on climate change, campaigning for digital reform and calling on leaders to protect their future.

Everyone, from businesses to individuals to governments, must hear this call and ensure that every child, has every right.