United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
A Rights Respecting School teaches about children’s rights but also models rights and respect in all its relationships.
Children’s rights are central to all aspects of UNICEF’s work and we are working to make sure that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is embedded into all our work. Our home-school agreement is based on everyone respecting these rights and all adults making sure children’s rights are protected.
For a school to be accredited, it must show evidence that it has reached all four of the following standards:
- Standard A: Rights-respecting values underpin leadership and management
- Standard B: The whole school community learns about the Convention on the Rights of the Child
- Standard C: The school has a rights respecting ethos
- Standard D: Children are empowered to become active citizens and learners
See what we’ve been doing in school and read more about the Rights Respecting Schools Award.
Everyone under the age of 18 has all the rights in the Convention.
The Convention applies to every child whatever their ethnicity, gender, religion, abilities, whatever they think or say, no matter what type of family they come from.
The best interests of the child must be a top priority in all actions concerning children.
Governments must do all they can to fulfil the rights of every child.
Governments must respect the rights and responsibilities of parents to guide and advise their child so that, as they grow, they learn to apply their rights properly.
Every child has the right to life. Governments must do all they can to ensure that children survive and grow up healthy.
Every child has the right to a legally registered name and nationality, as well as the right to know and, as far as possible, to be cared for by their parents.
Governments must respect and protect a child’s identity and prevent their name, nationality or family relationships from being changed unlawfully. If a child has been illegally denied part of their identity, governments must act quickly to protect and assist the child to re-establish their identity.
Children must not be separated from their parents unless it is in the best interests of the child (for example, in cases of abuse or neglect). A child must be given the chance to express their views when decisions about parental responsibilities are being made. Every child has the right to stay in contact with both parents, unless this might harm them.
Governments must respond quickly and sympathetically if a child or their parents apply to live together in the same country. If a child’s parents live apart in different countries, the child has the right to visit both of them.
Governments must take steps to prevent children being taken out of their own country illegally or being prevented from returning.
Every child has the right to say what they think in all matters affecting them, and to have their views taken seriously.
Every child must be free to say what they think and to seek and receive information of any kind as long as it is within the law.
Every child has the right to think and believe what they want and also to practise their religion, as long as they are not stopping other people from enjoying their rights. Governments must respect the rights of parents to give their children guidance about this right.
Every child has the right to meet with other children and young people and to join groups and organisations, as long as this does not stop other people from enjoying their rights.
Every child has the right to privacy. The law should protect the child’s private, family and home life.
Every child has the right to reliable information from the mass media. Television, radio, newspapers and other media should provide information that children can understand. Governments must help protect children from materials that could harm them.
Both parents share responsibility for bringing up their child and should always consider what is best for the child. Governments must help parents by providing services to support them, especially if the child’s parents work.
Governments must do all they can to ensure that children are protected from all forms of violence, abuse, neglect and mistreatment by their parents or anyone else who looks after them.
If a child cannot be looked after by their family, governments must make sure that they are looked after properly by people who respect the child’s religion, culture and language.
If a child is adopted, the first concern must be what is best for the child. The same protection and standards should apply whether the child is adopted in the country where they were born or in another country.
If a child is a refugee or seeking refuge, governments must ensure that they have the same rights as any other child. Governments must help in trying to reunite child refugees with their parents. Where this is not possible, the child should be given protection.
A child with a disability has the right to live a full and decent life in conditions that promote dignity, independence and an active role in the community. Governments must do all they can to provide free care and assistance to children with disability.
Every child has the right to the best possible health. Governments must provide good quality health care, clean water, nutritious food and a clean environment so that children can stay healthy. Richer countries must help poorer countries achieve this.
If a child has been placed away from home (in care, hospital or custody, for example), they have the right to a regular check of their treatment and conditions of care.
Governments must provide extra money for the children of families in need.
Every child has the right to a standard of living that is good enough to meet their physical, social and mental needs. Governments must help families who cannot afford to provide this.
Every child has the right to an education. Primary education must be free. Secondary education must be available to every child. Discipline in schools must respect children’s human dignity. Wealthy countries must help poorer countries achieve this.
Education must develop every child’s personality, talents and abilities to the full. It must encourage the child’s respect for human rights, as well as respect for their parents, their own and other cultures, and the environment.
Every child has the right to learn and use the language, customs and religion of their family whether or not these are shared by the majority of the people in the country where they live.
Every child has the right to relax, play and join in a wide range of cultural and artistic activities.
Governments must protect children from work that is dangerous or might harm their health or education.
Governments must protect children from the use of illegal drugs.
Governments must protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation.
Governments must ensure that children are not abducted or sold.
Governments must protect children from all other forms of exploitation that might harm them.
No child shall be tortured or suffer other cruel treatment or punishment. A child shall only ever be arrested or put in prison as a last resort and for the shortest possible time. Children must not be put in a prison with adults and they must be able to keep in contact with their family.
Governments must do everything they can to protect and care for children affected by war. Governments must not allow children under the age of 15 to take part in war or join the armed forces.
Children neglected, abused, exploited, tortured or who are victims of war must receive special help to help them recover their health, dignity and self-respect.
A child accused or guilty of breaking the law must be treated with dignity and respect. They have the right to help from a lawyer and a fair trial that takes account of their age or situation. The child’s privacy must be respected at all times.
If the laws of a particular country protect children better than the articles of the Convention, then those laws must stay.
Governments must make the Convention known to children and adults.
Articles 43 – 54
The Convention has 54 articles in total. Articles 43–54 are about how adults and governments must work together to make sure all children get all their rights.