The International Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) celebrates its 30th anniversary on 20th November 2019. It is an opportunity for Aide et Action to take stock and offer you a zoom on the CRC, a text of historical magnitude but still far from being applied everywhere and by all, especially in education.
After, 30 years of existence, who today knows the rights of the child? According to a rights access survey conducted in France by the Ombudsperson (2016), barely half of the respondents are able to cite at least one right of the child and less than a quarter mentions the right to the child to be protected from violence. It’s a safe bet that the text is not so much better known in other countries of the world. Neither adults nor children, although the first concerned, are aware of it.
A historical text but little known
The International Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), adopted at the United Nations in 1989, is similar to a box of resonance as it was at the origin of transformations of historical scale. It was indeed the first-ever binding treaty to recognize that people under the age of 18 were subjects, rights holders, and to give them legal grounds to be active citizens. Fifty-four articles in total describe in details the rights and protections afforded to children with a common thread: four fundamental principles, namely the best interests of the child, survival and development, participation and non-discrimination. By ratifying the text, the 196 states (out of 197, only the United States have not ratified) have pledged to enforce these rights and to mobilize, for this purpose, a maximum of resources. And it is clear that such a commitment has indeed led to the adoption, in every country, of laws and policies guaranteeing the protection of children, to substantial investments in essential basic services and to transforming the lives of millions of children.
- Child mortality worldwide has declined from 93 per 1,000 live births in 1989 to 39 today, an absolute reduction in the annual number of child deaths from 12.7 million to 5.4 millions.1
- Developmental delays caused by malnutrition have risen from nearly 40% to 22% today2.
- At the global level, net enrollment rates for primary education have risen from 82% in 1989 to 90% today3.
- Before 1989, only three countries had laws prohibiting all corporal punishment on children. Today, there are more than 504.
But millions of children still left behind
Progress is unquestionably numerous and historic, yet millions of children today are still deprived of their fundamental rights. More than 150 million people are chronically hungry or chronically backward, poverty is increasing, and children are being hit hard, including in developed countries; more than 152 million children are forced to work daily; more than 258 million children are now deprived of all education, including in developed countries: France alone has more than 100,000. Yet solutions are possible and begin with a massive investment in children’s access to basic services, including education.
A second revolution is necessary
“Without a strengthened and rights-based approach to child well-being and development, the Sustainable Development Goals adopted at the United Nations in September 2015 to build a more just and sustainable world by 2030 will be difficult, if not impossible to achieve“, says “A second revolution: 30 years of children’s rights and an unfinished agenda “.
The report produced by the Joining Forces, an alliance of six organizations dedicated to childhood, asserts that: yes significant progress was made by this founding text but the states are failing to invest sufficiently in basic services for children5, especially the most vulnerable and marginalized. The report estimates that 700 million children are left behind, deprived of well-being and socio-economic rights. “A moral, legal and economic failure that the world cannot tolerate,” the report concludes.
For the rights of the child to be applied
To build a more sustainable world, free from inequality, the report calls for a second revolution, in which the rights of every child – whoever and wherever they live – would be realized. It therefore advocates for the highest priority to be given to interventions and policies targeting children, which will ultimately break the intergenerational cycle of poverty and lay the foundations for a more just, prosperous and sustainable future. This is call that we, at Aide et Action, also align with, as we believe position increasing access to education for the youngest as being essential for the future of our world.
5: The report “A second revolution: 30 years of child rights and an unfinished agenda” explains that most countries do not reach the 5% to 6% of GDP expenditure that is commonly accepted as necessary to ensure coverage Universal Essential Health Care. In addition, global estimates of the education funding gap for all developing countries amount to $ 1.8 trillion annually until 2030. National revenues will be so the main way to close this investment gap