30 years on: The Conventions of the Rights of a Child

We celebrate Children’s Day on the 28th October, and 2020 sees the day mark a significant milestone – the 30th anniversary on the Convention on the Rights of a Child. This profound treaty was one of the most momentous of all time and, while children around the globe have benefited, there is still much to achieve.

So, three decades on, let’s discover what the treaty has achieved – and the outlook for the future.

The Convention on the Rights of a Child: An overview

In 1989, courtesy of the United Nations, world leaders made a pledge to the adults of tomorrow. And that was to adopt an international framework that would commit to protect and fulfil the rights of children – no matter where on the planet they were born or country that they resided in. This was legalised and named the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The treaty was revolutionary, depicting that children are not a parent’s possession but are individuals in their own right. It stated that childhood is a separate stage from adulthood, lasting until 18, and that it was a time during which a child should be protected to learn, grow, play, develop and flourish with dignity. This transformational convention has been pivotal in bringing a voice to children in many areas of the world – indeed, it’s the most ratified treaty on human rights in all recorded history.

The Dawn of a new Era

Of course, some of the challenges that face the world’s children today are very different from those in 1989. While there is much to celebrate at what the Convention has achieved, there is still a huge amount to do.

Happily, around the globe it’s inspired investment and policy changes that mean more children benefit from the following:

  • Adequate healthcare
  • Good nutrition to enable them to grow and develop
  • Safeguards that protect from violence and exploitation

In Australia it can be hard for many of us to comprehend that these basic human rights are withheld. But while many children around the world have benefitted from the advances demanded by the treaty, the Convention has still to make the inroads necessary to be fully implemented everywhere. Indeed, in many areas its very existence isn’t widely known, and where it is it might not be fully understood.

21st Century Challenges

Issues such as mass migration, prolonged conflict, digital technology and rapid environmental change have led to new, unique threats. Yet, at the same time, these also bring about new opportunities. For example, utilising the very ethos of the Convention, 16 children, including Greta Thunberg, filed a landmark complaint to the UN to protest a lack of government action on the climate crisis – something that would have seemed impossible in a pre-Convention world.

In a comparison to 1990, the following have been achieved:

  • 2.6 billion children have cleaner drinking water
  • The number of undernourished children in the world has almost halved
  • There has been more than a 50% reduction in the death of children under 5

However, there are still far too many children whose childhoods are cut short, perhaps by forced marriage, being made to leave school, caught up in wars, carrying out hazardous work or being incarcerated in adult prisons.

Currently there’s an estimated 262 million children who don’t benefit from school and education, 650 million underwent enforced marriage before they were 18 and, sadly, by 2040, one in four will live in a region where water is a scarce commodity.

The responsibility of today’s adult generation

The commitment and vision of the world leaders who set up the Convention must be further entrenched today. Everyone has a part to play, from parents and caregivers to teachers, early year educators, doctors, healthcare professionals, religious elders, media professionals, corporate moguls…

We all have a role that can be as easy as making the 2020 World Children’s day relevant to their own community and nation. This, in turn, helps each of us advocate the very message of those inspirational world leaders in 1989: that of ‘Every Right – for Every Child’.

No-one is more committed to this than the team at every Nido Early School. That’s why we’re making a really big deal about this year’s World Children’s Day and the 30th anniversary of the Convention of the Rights of a Child. Why not pop into your local Nido centre and discover how we’re celebrating and doing our bit to demand action for child rights – not just in Australia, but for children around the whole world.