The rights set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) apply to everyone under the age of 18.
The rights set out in the UNCRC apply to every child whatever their race, colour, gender, language, religion, ethnicity, disability or any other status.
In all decisions and actions that concern children, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.
The state must do all it can, through passing legislation and creating administrative systems, to promote and protect children’s rights.
The state must respect the rights and responsibilities of parents to guide their child in exercising his or her rights and in a way that is consistent with a child’s developing capacities.
Every child has the right to survive. The state must do all it can to make sure children survive and develop to the full extent possible.
Every child should be registered at birth and has the right to a name, to a nationality and, as far as possible, to be cared for by their parents.
Every child has the right to their identity – including their nationality, name and family relationships. Where a child is deprived of one or more elements of their identity, the state will act to re-establish them.
No child should be separated from his or her parents against their will unless it is in the child’s best interests. Children whose parents have separated have the right to contact and a relationship with both parents, unless that’s not in the child’s best interests.
Where a separated child or his or her mother or father wishes to move to another country to be reunified as a family, the states involved should respond quickly and sympathetically. Children whose parents are separated and living in different countries have the right to maintain a personal relationship and direct contact with both parents.
States shall take steps to stop children being illegally taken abroad by their parents or other relatives, or from being prevented from returning to their country.
Every child has the right to express their views on matters that affect them, and for these views to be taken into consideration.
Every child has the right to find out and distribute information and to express their ideas – through talking, writing, art or any other form of expression.
Every child has the right to think and believe what they choose, and to practise their religion, provided this does not prevent others from enjoying their rights. The state should respect the rights and responsibilities of parents to provide direction to their child that is appropriate to his or her development.
Every child has the right to meet other people and to join groups and organisations, as long as this does not prevent others enjoying their rights.
Every child has the right to privacy, including their family and home life, and they should be protected from unlawful attacks on their reputation.
Every child has the right to find out information and material from a variety of media sources. The state should encourage mass media information that supports children’s wellbeing and development. The mass media should be encouraged to consider the linguistic needs of children from minority groups. The production and dissemination of children’s books should be encouraged. Children should be protected from information that may be damaging.
The state should recognise that both parents have responsibility for a child’s upbringing and development, and the best interests of the child should be their primary concern. States should assist parents in this through support for care services.
The state must do all it can to protect children from violence, abuse, neglect, bad treatment or exploitation by their parents or anyone else who looks after them.
If a child cannot be looked after by their parents, the state has a responsibility to provide alternative care. The child’s ethnic, religious, cultural and linguistic background should be considered.
In adoption cases, the state should ensure the process is lawful and the interests of the child are paramount. Children should only be adopted overseas if a suitable family cannot be found in their own country.
Children seeking or who have refugee status have the rights set out in the UNCRC. Governments must provide protection and support, and must help children who are separated from their parents to be reunited with their family.
Disabled children have the right to enjoy a full life, with dignity, and to participate as far as possible in their community. The government should support disabled children and their families.
Every child has the right to the best possible health and to healthcare. The state should ensure children have healthcare services, nutritious food, clean water, a clean environment and healthcare information. Richer countries should support poorer countries in this.
Children who are living away from home for healthcare have the right to regular reviews of their treatment and their situation.
Every child has the right to benefit from social security. Governments must consider the circumstances of children and their family in assessing their need for assistance.
Every child has the right to a decent standard of living to enable them to grow and develop. Parents are responsible for providing this. The state should support where necessary, particularly with a child’s nutrition, clothing and housing.
Every child has the right to education. Primary education should be compulsory and free. Different forms of secondary education should be available to every child. School discipline should respect children’s dignity and rights. Richer countries should support poorer countries in this.
Education should help develop every child’s personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to the full. It should develop children’s respect for their own rights and those of others, for their parents, for their own culture and the cultures of others, and for the natural environment.
A child from minority group has the right to enjoy their own culture, practise their own religion and use their own language.
Every child has the right to relax, play and take part in cultural and artistic activities.
Every child has the right to be protected from any work that is dangerous, that interferes with their education or that is harmful to their health. Governments must set a minimum working age and make sure working conditions are safe and appropriate.
Children should be protected from using, producing or distributing illegal drugs.
All children must be protected from all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse, including unlawful sexual activity, prostitution and in pornographic materials.
The state should do all it can to prevent children being abducted, sold, or trafficked to another country and exploited.
The state should protect children against all other forms of exploitation.
No child should be tortured or treated in a cruel or inhuman way. Prison should be a last resort. Children who are detained should not be imprisoned with adults and they should have the opportunity to remain in contact with their family. No child should be given the death penalty or a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of release.
States should do all they can to protect children under 15 from taking part in conflict of joining armed forces. Children in conflict zones should be given special protection.
States should do all they can to help any child who has been neglected, exploited, abused, tortured or involved in armed conflict to recover their health, self-respect and dignity, and to reintegrate.
Every child accused of breaking the law should be presumed innocent until proven guilty, have the option of legal assistance and be given a fair hearing. The state should establish a minimum age for criminal responsibility. It should avoid judicial proceedings where appropriate and desirable, and should have alternatives to institutional care.
If a country’s laws and standards go further than the UNCRC in promoting children’s rights, they should be kept.
The state must make sure adults and children know about the principles and provisions of the UNCRC.