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Convention on the Rights of the Child
Opened for signature20 November 1989 at -
Entered into forceSeptember 1990
Conditions for entry into force-
Parties193 (only 2 non-parties)


The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is an international convention setting out the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of children. It is monitored by the Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Most member nation states (countries) of the United Nations have ratified it, either partly or completely. The United Nations General Assembly agreed to adopt the Convention into international law on November 20 1989; it came into force in September 1990, after it was ratified by the required number of nations. The Convention generally defines a child as any person under the age of 18, unless an earlier age of majority is recognized by a country's law.

The Convention acknowledges that every child has certain basic rights, including the right to life, his or her own name and identity, to be raised by his or her parents within a family or cultural grouping and have a relationship with both parents, even if they are separated.

The Convention obliges states to allow parents to exercise their parental responsibilities. The Convention also acknowledges that children have the right to express their opinions and to have those opinions heard and acted upon when appropriate, to be protected from abuse or exploitation, to have their privacy protected and requires that their lives not be subject to excessive interference.

The Convention also obliges signatory states to provide separate legal representation for a child in any judicial dispute concerning their care and asks that the child's viewpoint be heard in such cases. The Convention forbids capital punishment for children.

The Convention is child-centric and deals with the child-specific needs and rights. It requires that states act in the best interests of the child. This approach is different from the common law approach found in many countries that had previously treated children and wives as possessions or chattels, ownership of which was often argued over in family disputes. In many jurisdictions, properly implementing the Convention requires an overhaul of child custody and guardianship laws, or, at the very least, a creative approach within the existing laws.

The Convention also has two Optional Protocols, adopted by the General Assembly in May 2000 and applicable to those states that have signed and ratified them: The Optional protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict and the Optional protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.

State Parties and Signatories

According to UNICEF, 193 states are party to the Convention[1], almost all members of the United Nations.

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The United States and Somalia signed it, but never completed their ratification processes.

U.S. status

On February 16, 1995, Madeleine Albright, at the time the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, signed the Convention. President Clinton chose to submit the Convention to the Senate for ratification by a two-thirds majority.

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The laws of several U.S. states authorizing execution of persons between the ages of 16 and 18 at the time of commission of the crime has been a major barrier to the USA's ratification of the Convention. It is uncertain what effect the 2005 Supreme Court decision in the case of Roper v. Simmons, prohibiting the execution of defendants who were minors at the time of commission of the crime, will have on the US ratification process.

The United States has had particular difficulties in ratifying the CRC due to strong opposition by conservatives to the treaty. The Bush administration has stated its opposition to the treaty:

"The Convention on the Rights of the Child may be a positive tool for promoting child welfare for those countries that have adopted it. But we believe the text goes too far when it asserts entitlements based on economic, social and cultural rights. ... The human rights-based approach ... poses significant problems as used in this text."

[2]

See also


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