A right is something to which you have a legal or moral entitlement to. These are different from needs or wants – in some ways, rights make sure that your needs are met.
Children’s rights are special, because they have been agreed especially to protect the wellbeing of children and young people. Every child and young person holds these rights, just because they are young.
In other words, a right is something you are entitled to and cannot be taken away.
It is the job of adults – including parents, carers, teachers, social workers, and politicians to make sure you always experience your rights. They should respect and protect your rights. We call these people ‘duty-bearers’.
As a child or young person you are the ‘rights-holder’. It is important that children and young people know about their rights so that they can claim their entitlement and make the adult duty-bearers responsible.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
All the rights for children and young people have been grouped together in to one legal document called the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
- There are 54 rights in the United Nations Convention.
- The United Nations was formed at the end of World War 2 as an organisation that brings people together from all over the world to promote peace.
- The idea of a set of Rights for Children has been around since 1917, but it took until 1989 for the United Nations to agree the rights and make it an international agreement.
- The United Kingdom agreed to the Convention in December 1991.
Why is the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child special?
- It treats all children and young people as individuals and gives children and young people a say in their own lives
- The same set of rights apply to children and young people across the world, almost every country in the world has agreed to the set of rights
- The Convention requires world wide reporting on how well Governments are doing in their job as duty-bearers and how it is making a diff erence to the lives of children and young people
- It supports the United Nations goal of bringing people together; countries help each other out by giving aid, money, or other resources to those who are less fortunate than themselves
- America and Somalia are yet to ‘ratify’ the Convention. This means that they have signed to show they agree with the ideas, but they have not got the political agreement to make it law in their country.