Children’s Rights: A Comprehensive Overview of the UN Convention

Be recognized

: A child is recognized as a person under the age of 18, unless national laws recognize an earlier age of majority. ARTICLE 2


: All rights apply to all children without exception. It is the State’s obligation to protect children from any form of discrimination and to take positive action to promote their rights. ARTICLE 3

Adequate care

: A child is recognized as a person under the age of 18, unless national laws recognize an earlier age of majority. ARTICLE 4

Implementation of these rights

: The State must do all it can to implement the rights contained in the Convention. ARTICLE 5

Parental guidance

: The State must respect the rights and responsibilities of parents and the extended family to provide guidance for the child that is appropriate to her or his evolving capacities. ARTICLE 6


Every child has the inherent right to life, and the State has an obligation to ensure the child’s survival and development. ARTICLE 7

A name and nationality

The child has the right to a name at birth. The child also has the right to acquire a nationality and, as far as possible, to know his or her parents and be cared for by them. ARTICLE 8

Identity protection

The State has an obligation to protect and, if necessary, re-establish basic aspects of the child’s identity. This includes name, nationality, and family ties. ARTICLE 9

Live with their parents

The child has a right to live with his or her parents unless this is deemed incompatible with the child’s best interests. The child also has the right to maintain contact with both parents if separated from one or both. ARTICLE 10

Family reunification

Children and their parents have the right to leave any country and to enter their own for purposes of reunion or the maintenance of the child-parent relationship. ARTICLE 11

Freedom from kidnapping

The State has an obligation to prevent and remedy the kidnapping or retention abroad of children by a parent or third party. ARTICLE 12

Freedom of opinion

The child has the right to express his or her opinion freely and to have that opinion taken into account in any matter or procedure affecting the child. ARTICLE 13

Freedom of expression

The child has the right to express his or her views, obtain information and make ideas or information known, regardless of frontiers. ARTICLE 14

Freedom of thought

The State shall respect the child’s right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, subject to appropriate parental guidance. ARTICLE 15

Freedom of association

Children have a right to meet with others, and to join or form associations. ARTICLE 16

Protection of privacy

Children have the right to protection from interference with their privacy, family, home, and correspondence, and to protection from libel or slander. ARTICLE 17

Access information

The State shall ensure the accessibility to children of information and material from a diversity of sources, and it shall encourage the mass media to disseminate information that is of social and cultural benefit to the child, and take steps to protect him or her from harmful materials. ARTICLE 18

Be raised by their parents

Parents have joint primary responsibility for raising the child, and the State shall support them in this. The State shall provide parents with appropriate child-rearing assistance. ARTICLE 19

Freedom from abuse

The State shall protect the child from all forms of maltreatment by parents or others responsible for the child’s care and shall establish appropriate social programs for the prevention of abuse and the treatment of victims. ARTICLE 20

Alternative care

The State is obliged to provide special protection for a child deprived of the family environment and to ensure that appropriate alternative family care or institutional placement is available in such cases. Efforts to meet this obligation shall pay due regard to the child’s cultural background.ARTICLE 21

Safe adoption

In countries where adoption is recognized and/or allowed, it shall be carried out only in the best interests of the child, and then only with the authorization of competent authorities and safeguards for the child. ARTICLE 22

Refugee protection

Special protection shall be granted to a refugee child or to a child seeking refugee status. It is the State’s obligation to cooperate with competent organizations that provide such protection and assistance. ARTICLE 23

Special disability care

A disabled child has the right to special care, education, and training to help him or her enjoy a full and decent life in dignity and achieve the greatest degree of self-reliance and social integration possible. ARTICLE 24

Health services

The child has a right to the highest standard of health and medical care attainable. States shall place special emphasis on the reduction of infant and child mortality and on the provision of primary and preventive healthcare and of public health education. ARTICLE 25

Review of placement

A child who is placed by the State for reasons of care, protection, or treatment is entitled to have that placement evaluated regularly. ARTICLE 26

Social security

The child has the right to benefit from social security, including social insurance. ARTICLE 27

A standard of living

Every child has the right to a standard of living adequate for his or her physical, mental, spiritual, moral, and social development. ARTICLE 28

An education

The child has a right to education, and the State’s duty is to ensure that primary education is free and compulsory. ARTICLE 29

Personal development

Education shall aim at developing the child’s personality, talents, and mental and physical abilities to the fullest extent. ARTICLE 30

Their own culture

Children of minority communities and indigenous populations have the right to enjoy their own culture and to practice their own religion and language. ARTICLE 31

Leisure and play

The child has the right to leisure, play, and participation in cultural and artistic activities. ARTICLE 32

Freedom from child labor

The child has the right to be protected from work that threatens his or her health, education, or development. The State shall set minimum ages for employment and shall regulate working conditions. ARTICLE 33

Protection from drug abuse

Children have the right to protection from the use of narcotic and psychotropic drugs, and from being involved in their production or distribution. ARTICLE 34

Freedom from sexual exploitation

The State shall protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse, including prostitution and involvement in pornography. ARTICLE 35

Freedom from human trafficking

It is the State’s obligation to make every effort to prevent the sale, trafficking, and abduction of children. ARTICLE 36

Freedom from exploitation

The child has the right to protection from all forms of exploitation prejudicial to any aspects of the child’s welfare not covered in articles 32–35. ARTICLE 37

Freedom from torture

No child shall be subjected to torture, cruel treatment, or punishment, unlawful arrest, or deprivation of liberty. Both capital punishment and life imprisonment without the possibility for release are prohibited for offenses committed by persons below age 18. ARTICLE 38

Protection from conflict

States shall take all feasible measures to ensure that children under 15 years of age have no direct part in hostilities. No child below 15 shall be recruited into the armed forces. ARTICLE 39

Rehabilitative care

The State has an obligation to ensure that child victims of armed conflicts, torture, maltreatment, or exploitation receive appropriate treatment for their recovery and social reintegration.


Juvenile justice

A child in conflict with the law has the right to treatment that promotes the child’s sense of dignity and worth, takes the child’s age into account, and aims at his or her defense ARTICLE 41

Relevant higher national standards

If a country has laws and standards that go further than the present Convention, then the country must keep these laws. ARTICLE 42

Knowledge of these rights

Governments must actively work to make sure children and adults know about the Convention. ARTICLE 43 – 54

Input from adults and governments

Articles 43 – 54 are about how adults and governments must work together to make sure all children can enjoy all their rights.