In addition to monitoring compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its two optional protocols, UNICEF designs a large number of programmes to help implement the Millennium Development Goals. Since 2001, the Fund has focused its work on five primary priorities (girls’ education, immunisation plus, child protection, HIV/AIDS, and early childhood) integrated in a medium-term strategic plan implemented via its regional field offices in 157 countries and territories.
Universal Children’s Day is observed on 20 November, which is also the date of various national days for the defence and promotion of children’s rights. It celebrates the Convention on the Rights of the Child adopted on 20 November 1989 by the UN General Assembly. Inspired by various legal systems, the CRC was the first binding international legal instrument to define a child (any person under the age of 18).
It comprises 54 articles setting out the fundamental rights of all children without discrimination of any kind: right to life, to survival and development, to protection against maltreatment and exploitation, to participate fully in family, cultural and social life, to freedom of expression and to having their views given due weight, to health and education. The Convention is based on four leading principles that underpin the respect of all rights: non-discrimination; paramount consideration for the child’s best interests; the right to life and development; respect for the child’s views. The States Parties to the Convention are required to design and implement measures and policies that give due consideration to the child’s best interests.
These rights are detailed in two Optional Protocols: one relating to the involvement of children in armed conflicts, and the other to the trafficking and prostitution of children and pornography portraying children.
Update : July 2010