November 20, 2014 marked the 25th anniversary since the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was adopted at the General Assembly. Are children better off now than they were 25 years ago? The answer is a resounding yes. The convention was a watershed for human rights, so much so that today, many children are able to take these rights for granted.
25 years ago, children were regarded more as objects, either property of their parents, or helpless beings that needed to be fully guided. The convention established that each child is an individual, with their own rights to be respected and protected. Children are the world’s inevitable future. The world needs children to not only survive and be safe, but also to develop, participate, fulfill their potential.
We need children to be innovative, to be creative, to be optimistic, to learn, to be children. We need children to live, laugh, and learn, as children. This sentiment is echoed around the world – in fact, the Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most universally accepted human rights instrument in history. Human rights are inherent, inalienable, and universal rights that are essential to humans.
The CRC showed that children should be regarded as humans – as independent beings whose rights should be respected. It also sets them apart from adults by establishing children need special protection that adults are responsible for providing.
The CRC has changed laws and practices, and improved the lives of millions of children. The convention cemented the rights of children, and gives millions of children around the world the right to a healthy, happy life that will ensure a healthy, happy future.
These rights have saved the lives of millions of children, and set worthwhile goals that countries around the globe are committed to working towards. And this work has paid off – today, infant mortality is declining, and school enrollment is increasing. This is why we commemorate the 25th anniversary of the CRC.
We have achieved a lot. But a quarter of a century’s work is not enough. There are still children whose rights are abused and ignored. And it is our role to continue working and progressing towards the promises of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, for the bettering of the lives of children, and for the bettering of the future of our world.