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Join us, on Universal Children’s Day—and every day—in counting down the Top 5 Child Rights.
Universal Children’s Day 2023
As the world's leading expert on childhood, Save the Children is proud to join the United Nations in celebrating Universal Children’s Day, established in 1954.
When is Universal Children's Day?
Universal Children’s Day, also known as World Children’s Day, takes place on November 20th. This was the date in 1959 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. On the same day in 1989, the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is the most universally accepted human rights treaty in history.
This Universal Children’s Day, the United Nations marks the 31st anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Here are four more things to know:
- The UNCRC is based on the Declaration on the Rights of the Child, drafted by Save the Children founder Eglantyne Jebb.
In 1919, when Eglantyne founded Save the Children, her conviction that children have a right to food, health care, education and protection from exploitation was not a mainstream idea.
The Declaration on the Rights of the Child asserted that children have a right to food, health care, education and protection from exploitation. The Declaration took the bold step of asserting these rights for all children and made it the duty of the international community to put children’s rights in the forefront of planning.
Jebb’s Declaration on the Rights of the Child was adopted by the League of Nations in 1924.
- The UNCRC consists of 54 articles.
Every one of the 54 articles included in the agreement set out different but equally important children’s rights, from the right to survive (article 6) to the right to be protected from any work that is dangerous, that interferes with their education or that is harmful to their health (article 32). They also set out how governments should work together to make these rights available to all children.
- 194 countries have signed up to the UNCRC
All countries that sign up to the UNCRC are bound by international law to ensure it is implemented. This is monitored by the Committee on the Rights of the Child.
The UNCRC is also the only international human rights treaty to give non-governmental organizations (NGOs), like Save the Children, a direct role in overseeing its implementation, under Article 45a.
- All children have rights that are specific to them as children, enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
These rights need to be respected, protected and fulfilled even during times of crisis.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted– and sometimes violated – several children’s rights, including their right to be heard. Even before the pandemic started, 258 million children and young people were out of school.
In Save the Children’s Protect a Generation Report, children surveyed made articulate and clear demands of their leaders to deliver on their rights. Children demand action on education, including the re-opening of schools and improved distance learning, increased access to healthcare, as well as other social protections.
They also asked for protection from increasing violence as a result of COVID-19.
It is often forgotten that listening to what children have to say in an emergency is not just ‘a nice thing to do’, it is a humanitarian obligation. On Universal Children’s Day—and every day—children’s rights need to be respected, protected and fulfilled.
To read the full Protect a Generation Report click here. You can also read a child-friendly version of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
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