UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted in 1989 and applies to all young people under 18 years of age. A total of 193 countries have signed the convention up to the present time. Since the Netherlands signed it in 1995, it has been obliged to keep to the rules laid down in this convention.

Main points of the Convention on the Rights of the Child
The convention has 54 articles. These articles address almost every aspect of children’s lives. They may be grouped in three categories:

  • provision: good and free education, good and accessible health care and other forms of care
  • protection: freedom from ill-treatment, exploitation, neglect, child labour, acts of war, child trafficking and slavery
  • participation: children should be given an opportunity to participate in everything that is related to their lives. This includes the right to freedom of expression and an opportunity to make their views known and take part in decision-making about matters that have a bearing on them. 

The full  Convention on the Rights of the Child can be found on the United Nations Human Rights website, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. 

Committee on the Rights of the Child monitors compliance with children’s rights

Each signatory to this convention is obliged to report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in Geneva every five years on the situation regarding compliance with children’s rights in that particular country. The Committee checks whether countries keep to the agreements laid down in the convention.

In 2009, Dutch representatives went to Geneva to report to the Committee for the third time on the state of children’s rights in the Netherlands. The Committee expressed considerable interest in the way in which the Netherlands ensures compliance with children’s rights. It asked questions relating to matters such as the Netherlands’ approach to child abuse and waiting lists in youth care. The Report of the Committee on the Rights of the Child contains all the UN’s recommendations.

At the beginning of 2012, the Netherlands has to submit its 4th report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child. The report will probably be discussed with the Committee in 2013 or 2014. 

Coalition of organisations for children’s rights

The Dutch NGO Coalition for Children’s Rights is a group of organisations working to enforce children’s rights. Its member organisations are Defence for Children International, UNICEF, the National Youth Council and the National Youth Fund Jantje Beton.

The Coalition for Children’s Rights is consulted regularly by the State Secretary for Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) especially in relation to important debates in parliament and reports to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

At the same time as the government submits its report to the UN on the implementation of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child,  the Coalition for Children’s Rights submits a report of its own to the United Nations. In 2009, for the first time, this was expanded to include a report prepared by young people themselves. In September 2010, UNICEF and Defence for Children presented the third  annual report on children’s rights to the government. The annual report describes the state of affairs in the areas of aliens law, exploitation, youth care, child abuse and juvenile criminal law.

Child Rights Home provides information on children’s rights

The  Child Rights Home in Leiden draws attention to children’s rights issues in regional, national and international forums. It also offers space to organisations that are active in this area.

Groups of children and young people − and adults – wishing to learn more about children’s rights are welcome to visit this centre. The Child Rights Home also offers young people opportunities to exchange ideas, to learn from one another and to set up joint projects.