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Convention on the Rights of the Child

You have the right!

Do all children and youth have the right to go to school, spend free time with their friends, visit a doctor when they are ill and be protected from violence? Yes, they do, but are these rights guaranteed for all?

Where children are born, what their ethnic or religious background is, what their sex is, how much their families earn, if they have any developmental difficulties, if they live in a village or in a town are all factors that determine how children live and what rights are guaranteed to them.

All children are born with the same freedoms and rights that belong to all human beings.

On 20 November 1989, when the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the international document that recognises children’s rights in the whole world, the world made the promise that all children will be ensured equal rights. The convention was signed by 194 countries (including Croatia), which made it the most rapidly and widely ratified international human rights treaty in history.

The world showed its commitment to do whatever it can to protect and ensure the rights of children to survive, participate and develop without suffering discrimination. The convention promises that every child and young person (up to 18 years of age) in the world has the right to education, healthcare, food, shelter, play, respect, protection from discrimination, abuse and violence, and much more.

The work of UNICEF as an international organisation is governed by the Convention on the Rights of the Child; its role is to help governments around the world to improve respect for child rights. www.unicef.org/crc/

The convention stipulates that all persons younger than eighteen years of age must to be informed about the rights of children in order for them to be made aware of their own rights, means of exercising them, and their right to protection in case of infringement of such rights.

The percentage of children in Croatia that have heard about their rights has grown from 48 % to 63 % from 2009 to 2014, but when assessing the extent to which their rights are respected the grade given by children dropped from 4.1 to 3.6 for the same period. Children’s opinions are largely not sought when decisions are made at school (75 %), nor in the place where they live (88 %), despite children being affected by these decisions (source: Ipsos Puls for UNICEF, 2014).

UNICEF survey has shown that children ask to be better included in the decision-making process, particularly in regard to sports playgrounds, the reconstruction of parks and schools, clean environment and also helping the poor. When asked what should be done to ensure better respect for child rights, children say that they should be listened to and talked to more than is currently the case.

In the real world children often do express their views and opinions but all too often adults do not really listen. Yet, as the Convention on the Rights of the Child obliges them to, they should do so.

What have we achieved in 25 years and is the world today a better place for children?

In every region of the world the convention has inspired changes in laws and practices and this has led to an improvement in the lives of millions of children.

Since 1990, the mortality rate for children under five years of age has dropped by almost 50 per cent, the number of children in primary school has grown by 23 %, polio has almost been eradicated, fewer children live in extreme poverty and millions more children have access to potable water and normal sanitation. We should be happy to have achieved these results, but they also remind us that a lot more remains to be done.

Many children in the world still do not enjoy their full rights. As many as 168 million children work and therefore cannot attend school, while between 500 million and 1.5 billion children are estimated to suffer some form of violence. Those belonging to vulnerable groups – children without parents, children with disabilities, children from minority groups, children forced to work and those suffering other forms of exploitation – run the highest risk of infringement of their fundamental rights to survival, protection and freedom.

We all need to Join

Musicians, sports personalities and other UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors help to spread the message on the importance of respect for children’s rights and give a voice to those who are deprived of their rights. All over the world they help in the struggle to ensure that the rights of children belonging to the most vulnerable groups are respected.

Among them are global superstars like David Beckham, Katy Perry, Leo Messi, Novak Đoković, Shakira and many others.

On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the convention UNICEF launched an application that enabled children and adults around the entire world to participate in a joint recording of one of the most popular and inspiring songs about human rights: − John Lennon’s Imagine.

  • Shakira Shakira
  • Novak Đoković Novak Đoković
  • Orlando Bloom Orlando Bloom

Amongst many other activities, since 2008 UNICEF in Croatia has marked the birthday of the convention by organising the annual Children’s Rights Festival. On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the convention UNICEF launched the online game ‘Get It Right!’ . This is the first game that can be played by blind and visually impaired persons.

The convention entails optimism for the future of the world in its inherent belief that one day all children will be able to enjoy their childhood in a world where all of their rights are observed. This will be a world in which children will be protected from violence, abuse, exploitation, neglect and discrimination and empowered to participate in making all decisions that affect their lives. Although in the real world no problem can be made to disappear simply by waving a magic wand, it is important to constantly work towards resolving problems. Therefore, it is important that as many of us as possible join in and so UNICEF invites everyone to help create a world worthy of children.

UNICEF works globally to remind the world of the promises undertaken through the signing of the convention that still need to be kept.

There is a lot of work left to be done all over the world so let us keep building a better world together!

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