The United Nations was put into motion to create international co-operation, and prevent the atrocities of war inflicted upon humanity as a result of World War II. The UN General Assembly’s decisions form the basis of many international law and policies, and establish how nations international cooperation on issues. Now with a membership of 200 countries, it has considerable strength in taking on deep-rooted societal issues, including the need to bring about child rights. The UN’s work in the field of child rights has taken two dimensions: The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (commonly abbreviated as the UNCRC) and the UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund).
I. UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
Formally adopted by the UN General Assembly, the UNCRC was opened for signature on 20 November 1989, which was the 30th anniversary of its Declaration of the Rights of the Child. Today, it has been signed by 196 countries are party to it, including India. The UNCRC’s 54 articles set out children’s rights and explain how nations should provide them to children.
Essential to the UNCRC are basic fundamental rights, which include children’s right to life, survival and development, protection from violence, abuse or neglect, education, be raised by, or have a relationship with, their parents and the ability to express their opinion. It is the only international human rights treaty that gives NGOs a direct role in overseeing child rights implementation across countries (Article 45a). As signatories to the UNCRC, nations are bound to comply to it by international law.
Violations to the UNCRC are monitored closely by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. A committee with membership of countries around the world submits a report to the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly. Nations that ratify the UNCRC can be summoned to the United Nations Committee, for periodical progress review of the status of their child implementation at the national level.
II. UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund)
UNICEF was founded as a relief organisation for children after World War II. Now, it has a broader, more far-reaching function. It works through 7,000 committed individuals in 157 countries and territories around the world, and is closely aligned with the welfare programme and vision of national and local governments and other partners around the world. It is committed to achieve fundamental rights of children.
The organisation’s key work areas include child survival and development, Basic Education and Gender Equality, awareness of and prevention of HIV and AIDs, Child Protection, and Policy Analysis, Advocacy and Partnerships for Children’s Rights. Its key roles also include emergency aid, and it is the foremost source of insight, discussion and dialogue on child rights policy reform and implementation across the world. Through these two organisations and their many functions and capabilities, the United Nations is able to accelerate the access to child rights in countries across the world.
Save the Children is closely linked to the UNCRC. The organisation’s founder Eglantyne Jebb, pioneered the idea of children’s rights, after witnessing millions of children suffer in the wake of World War I.
Shocked by the deprivation of education and nutrition she saw, she would go on to write the Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child. The declaration today is the basis of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Her vision was to “claim certain rights for children”, and it is also the guiding blueprint of Save the Children, India’s leading independent child rights organisation. The NGO provides access to education, nutrition, healthcare, and relief, as well infrastructure for equal opportunities to lakhs of Indian children across the nation. Donate to NGO fundraising to participate in India’s journey to achieve rights for its children.