A second revolution

Thirty years of child rights, and the unfinished agenda
Human rights Children's rights Sustainable development

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted 30 years ago, has contributed to a transformation of historic proportions. On most measures, the lives of children today are on average dramatically better than 30 years ago. Hundreds of millions more children are being vaccinated, eating healthily, living safely and going to school. Laws and policies recognise the rights of children as never before.

But this is no time to celebrate. In slums, conflict zones, migrant centres and remote villages there are millions of children whose lives have not improved. They are hungry, sick and left uneducated. Many of them are subjected to violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect. Often this is the result of discrimination, on the basis of race, caste, religion, gender identity (especially towards girls), or sexual orientation, or because they have a disability. These are the children who have been left behind. Their situation is a grave breach of the promises made to children in 1989.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most widely ratified treaty in history. The Sustainable Development Goals have been agreed by all governments. They go hand in hand. We cannot achieve the SDGs without realising the rights of all children, nor viceversa.

This report calls on states to fulfil their commitments with renewed vigour, urgency and imagination, so all children can grow up healthy, educated, safe from violence and free to make choices over their lives.

But this task cannot be achieved by states alone. As the world’s six largest child-focused international NGOs, we believe that we have an important contribution to make.

We commit to working with others to develop practical solutions that secure children’s rights, and uphold the principles of the CRC. We will strive to improve our own accountability to children, and support children to influence the decisions that shape their lives. And we will work with others to monitor progress and defend children’s rights.

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