Convention on the Rights of the Child

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (commonly abbreviated as the CRC or UNCRC) is an international human rights treaty which sets out the civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of children.[4] The Convention defines a child as any human being under the age of eighteen, unless the age of majority is attained earlier under national legislation.[5]

Convention on the Rights of the Child
  Parties to the convention
  Signed, but not ratified
Signed20 November 1989[1]
LocationNew York City[1]
Effective2 September 1990[1]
Condition20 ratifications[2]
Parties196[1] (all eligible states except the United States)
DepositaryUN Secretary-General[3]
LanguagesArabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish[1]
UN Convention on the Rights of the Child at Wikisource

Nations that have ratified this convention or have acceded to it are bound by international law. When a state has signed the treaty but not ratified it, it is not yet bound by the treaty's provisions but is already obliged to not act contrary to its purpose.[6]

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, composed of 18 independent experts, is responsible for supervising the implementation of the Convention by the states that have ratified it. Their governments are required to report to and appear before the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child periodically to be examined on their progress regarding the advancement of the implementation of the Convention and the status of child rights in their country.[7] Their reports and the committee's written views and concerns are available on the committee's website.

Also, individuals can appeal to the Committee on the Rights of the Child if they believe that rights, according to the Convention, have been violated. The third possibility for monitoring the implementation of the Convention is inquiries that the Committee on the Rights of the Child can carry out on their own initiative if they have reliable information that leads them to believe that a member state has violated the Convention's rights. However, «states [...] may opt-out from the inquiry procedure, at the time of signature or ratification or accession».[8] Once a year, the Committee submits a report to the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly, which also hears a statement from the CRC Chair, and the Assembly adopts a Resolution on the Rights of the Child.[9]

The UN General Assembly adopted the Convention and opened it for signature on 20 November 1989 (the 30th anniversary of its Declaration of the Rights of the Child).[10] It came into force on 2 September 1990,[1] after it was ratified by the required number of nations. As of 15 September 2021, 196 countries are party to it, including every member of the United Nations except the United States.[1][9][11][12]

Two optional protocols were adopted on 25 May 2000. The First Optional Protocol restricts the involvement of children in military conflicts, and the Second Optional Protocol prohibits the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. More than 170 states have ratified both protocols.[13][14] A third optional protocol relating to communication of complaints was adopted in December 2011 and opened for signature on 28 February 2012. It came into effect on 14 April 2014.[15]