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Adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 44/25 of 20 November 1989 entry into force 2 September 1990, in accordance with article 49.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) was developed in 1989 and is the first legally binding international instrument to incorporate the full range of human rights for children —civil, cultural, economic, political and social. It is a recognition by world leaders that children have human rights and people under 18 years old often need special care and protection that adults do not. By agreeing to undertake the obligations of the Convention governments across the world have committed themselves to protecting and ensuring children’s rights and to hold themselves accountable for this commitment before the international community. States parties to the Convention are obliged to develop and undertake all actions and policies in the light of the best interests of the child. The Convention sets out these rights in 54 articles and two Optional Protocols. It spells out the basic human rights that children everywhere have: the right to survival; to develop to the fullest; to protection from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation; and to participate fully in family, cultural and social life
The four core principles of the Convention are non-discrimination; devotion to the best interests of the child; the right to life, survival and development; and respect for the views of the child. The Convention protects children’s rights by setting standards in health care, education, legal, civil and social services.
The UN requires that Governments report every five years on the progress made on children’s rights in their country (that is, on implementation of the Convention). The Committee makes “Concluding Observations” (recommendations) to Governments in response to these reports. General Comments are referred to frequently in these Concluding Observations. General Comments can be used by national and local Government to guide implementation, and by non-governmental organizations and individuals to advocate for children’s rights. There are currently 13 General Comments relating to children’s rights. These are:
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