The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1989. More countries have ratified the Convention than any other human rights treaty in history. As of 2016, the CRC has been ratified by all nations except for the United States. The adoption of the CRC marked a virtual step in improving children’s rights worldwide. The Convention addresses children’s civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights. It emphasizes the right of a child to survival and development, right to education, and right to protection from discrimination and abuse. However, many countries still evidence a considerable gap between policy and practice; recent data show that nations worldwide are falling short on upholding children’s rights.
Every year, the KidsRights Foundation, together with Erasmus University, publish the KidsRights Index. This index provides insight on what is being done and where nations need to do better to fully implement the CRC. The 2016 index shows that the majority of countries are not addressing the issue of discrimination against minority groups of children and youth. Disabled children, indigenous children, street children, migrant children, and refugee children are still widely discriminated against. Another area of concern is nations’ failure to facilitate child participation. Children have the right to be heard and express their opinion, and to have a say in matters affecting their social, religious, cultural, and political lives (Articles 12, 13, and 14 of the CRC). However, the index shows that none of the countries analyzed achieved the highest possible score on child protection.
Norway is ranked number one for the second year in a row, followed by Portugal, Iceland, Spain, and Switzerland. The overall worst performing nations are Vanuatu, the Central African Republic, Afghanistan, and Chad. Contrary to popular belief, the index shows that economically developed countries are not necessarily implementing the CRC better than poorer countries. For example, among industrialized nations, Italy is ranked 81st, Canada 72nd, and Luxemburg 56th. These countries need to improve the infrastructure they have built for children’s rights. Although they have the wealth to invest in children’s rights, they fail to do so. Other nations, such as Thailand (21st) and Tunisia (10th), rank high in the index relative to their economic status, mainly due to their good performance in terms of national legislation enabling children’s rights.
The KidsRights Index is a central tool that explores the gap between children’s rights policies and strategies made at national and international levels and the local day-to-day realities for children and youth worldwide. This index can be used by key stakeholders, including governments, civil society, and international and non-governmental organizations, to take action that will further protect the rights of the child.
For more information:
KidsRights Index: http://www.kidsrightsindex.org/
KidsRights Foundation. (2016). The KidsRights Index 2016 Report. Please go here to download the report
UN Convention on the Rights of the Child: http://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/crc.aspx