Thank you for joining Equity for Children to recognize the 30th anniversary of the landmark adoption of the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC). On November 20th, 1989, world leaders within the UN General Assembly made history, committing to an international agreement on child rights. The CRC has become the world’s most widespread human rights treaty with the support of 196 countries. It marks a promise, backed by an international legal framework, to protect and fulfill the rights of every child worldwide. The treaty recognizes the need to ensure a safe and stable environment for children to learn, play, and develop into healthy, thriving, and fulfilled adults who not only realize their full personal potential but also become active agents of social change. The CRC forms an update to the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, which was first formed in the League of Nations in 1924 and expanded by the UN on November 20th, 1959. Though continuing in the tradition of the Declaration, even being signed on the same date, the CRC set out more fully than ever before the full spectrum of children’s civil, political, economic, social, health, and cultural rights.
The CRC has transformed the lives of children, bringing their needs and challenges to the forefront of discussion in national and international policymaking arenas. Since the signing of the CRC thirty years ago, children have gained a forum to discuss their needs, struggles, and opinions, becoming, as they should always have been, the public voice and face of issues that impact their lives with a valued role as indispensable participants in creating meaningful and lasting solutions to global challenges. Over the past three decades, many governments have gained awareness of the crucial need to change laws and policies and to invest in children, giving them the necessary healthcare and nutrition to survive and develop. There are stronger protections to guard children against violence and exploitation.
However, the CRC is not fully realized. Despite progress, not all children know, access, and enjoy their rights. Millions of children still lack access to education, sufficient healthcare and nutrition, and protection from violence. Rising global challenges related to climate change, mass migration, armed conflict, and cybersecurity stand to impact the lives and futures of all children, but increased global connectivity and the heightened recognition of children in the social and policymaking spheres present meaningful opportunities to address such the uncertain future that lies ahead. All world citizens and particularly young people must demand that leaders, governments, businesses, and communities uphold their commitments and undertake meaningful action to end child rights violations.
Today presents an opportunity to uphold the vision of the CRC. It is important to celebrate and promote children’s rights, but we must also be active advocates for change and truly transform discourses of commitment into concrete action towards building a better future for children while providing the young with the necessary tools to help and giving them a say in the blueprint for that future. Today is not only the anniversary of the CRC’s adoption. It has also been designated World Children’s by a UN resolution. This International Day, founded in the spirit of worldwide fraternity and the integral role of children in our societies, provides the opportunity for activity in the promotion of child welfare and for dialogue surrounding practices and policies to ensure that the ideals of the CRC are enabled, upheld, and enforced.