International Day of the Rights of the Child

November 20 is International Day of the Rights of the Child. On this day, people are reminded in various ways of the special rights that children have all over the world. Since November 20, 1989, these basic rights for the child have been laid down in a treaty by UNICEF and the United Nations. It is not a surprising fact that children are somewhat different from adults. However, this does not mean that children should not be given rights or that they are not eligible for human rights. To draw extra attention to children, a special treaty has been drawn up for this target group.

For the treaty

During the Industrial Revolution it was not uncommon to put children to work. Due to age and less control, it was possible to pay children poorly or nothing at all and this was of course advantageous for the companies that used this.

In 1874, the Van Houten Children’s Act was introduced by Samuel van Houten to put an end to labor for children under the age of 12. This was more a rule in theory than in practice, because there was little control and so child labor continued for a long time. However, when compulsory education was introduced in the Netherlands in 1901, child labor began to decline. This was of course not true of many other countries; Child labor is still common, especially in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Of course, it is not always about working in terrible conditions, because it is also possible that a child is put to work in their own family business, but often they will not be paid for this either.

Although child labor is still rare in developed countries, this is very different in Third World countries. But the Rights of the Child are not only about labor. It is also about having a roof over one’s head, protection against war, giving one’s own opinion, and having a name and nationality.

After the Second World War, an emergency fund for child aid was established, namely UNICEF (United Nations International Children Emergency Fund), to provide assistance to victims of the Second World War, but later also to more children, such as in developing countries and in other countries where this is necessary. turned out to be very necessary. To record this, the Convention on the Rights of the Child was eventually signed.

The treaty

The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of the Rights of the Child on November 20, 1989 and the treaty has now been signed in 193 countries around the world.

The most important rights for children are:

  • The right to education: primary education is compulsory and free for every child (so not only rights, but also obligations), compulsory education in the Netherlands up to the age of 16 if a diploma has been obtained for the education. Vocational and secondary education must be accessible to every child, including children with a disability, dyslexia and the like.
  • The right to one’s own faith and culture: expressing one’s own thoughts, conscience and religion, guided by parent and guardian.
  • The right to a name and a nationality: to be registered at birth and to know one’s own parents.
  • The right to your own opinion: freedom of expression, freedom to inform and to collect, receive and disseminate your own ideas. Of course, including taking others into account.
  • The right to a safe and healthy life: a child must survive and develop and be accompanied by a parent and guardian, and supported by the government.
  • The right to protection against child labor: protection against economic exploitation and work that is dangerous or potentially harmful.
  • The right to protection against abuse and violence: this applies to all forms of physical and mental violence and neglect. Prevention and signaling are more important issues here.
  • The right to protection in a war: in a war situation, a child has the right to extra protection. A child may not be called up for military service before the age of fifteen.
  • The right to play: truly a right especially for children, with the right to rest and leisure, participation in art and culture.
  • The right to grow up with family: the right to be reunited with the parents, direct and regular contact with the parents, separation only if contact is not good for the child.
  • The right to safe drinking water: healthy hygiene, sufficient food and clean drinking water are very important.
  • The right to good health care: this must be as good as possible with extra attention to reduced infant and child mortality, care for mothers before and after childbirth, attention to nutrition and hygiene.
  • The right to care in the event of a disability: special care for children who are mentally or physically disabled, to live as dignified and independently as possible, with the right to education, recreation and health care.
  • All rights apply to all children around the world

These rights apply to every person under the age of 18, after which universal human rights apply. The rights are also referred to as part of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The treaty was signed in the Netherlands on January 26, 1990.

In addition to these basic rights, children are also given the right to exert influence and participate in discussions on matters that are important to them. They are also asked for advice, for example from the mayor and aldermen in a municipality, or they are invited to speak at conferences . In addition, a lot of attention is paid to sports, recreation and relaxation.

Special attention is paid to children in developing countries and areas, who often do not yet meet the rights of the child. There is also special care for victims (for example of war violence, exploitation, torture, abuse and punishment), where aspects such as self-respect, health and dignity are stimulated.

After the treaty

Although 193 countries have already signed the treaty, children’s rights continue to be violated and violated. This can be due to wars, but also economic crises and natural disasters, which deprive children of the opportunity to go to school, play freely, express their opinions or live with their parents. Clean drinking water or medical assistance is not available everywhere. Ways are still being sought to solve and reduce these situations. Various (voluntary) organizations have also been set up to help children and improve their living situation.

Countries that have signed the treaty must report on the situation in their country. In 1997, for example, the Netherlands indicated that children had the right to speak on important topics discussed by ministers, or were allowed to participate in neighborhood and neighborhood councils.

International Day of the Rights of the Child

The International Day of the Rights of the Child is celebrated annually on November 20, during which compliance with the treaty, the current situation and the like are discussed. It is still important to consider what happens in the world every day, how children are affected by it and how we can continue to improve the situation.