From the «Declaration of Children’s Rights» to the «Convention on Children’s Rights» of 1989

From the «Declaration of Children’s Rights» to the «Convention on Children’s Rights» of 1989
1989. A group of children and teenagers from the United Nations International School meet the then Secretary General, Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, when the Convention was passed on the 20th November 1989, in New York © UN Photo/Milton Grant

From the «Declaration of Children’s Rights» to the «Convention on Children’s Rights» of 1989

In 1959, the United Nations had passed a «Declaration of Children’s Rights», but this was not enough to protect children and adolescents’ rights because judicially it was not legally binding. So in 1978, the Polish government presented a text to the Human Rights Commission which is regarded as the precursor to the «Convention on Children’s Rights» (1989). The basic question was whether positive rights required an International Convention on Children’s Rights or whether the rights of children should be simply considered Human Rights. After 10 years of work and arduous negotiations with governments around the world, religious leaders, charities and other institutions, the final text of the Convention was passed, and compliance with it was mandatory for all nations that ratified it. The document is very meticulous when it comes to making the universality of children’s rights compatible with respect and defense of cultural differences. It, therefore, takes into account traditional and cultural values for the protection and harmonious development of children, reflects the major legal systems of the world, and recognises the specific needs of developing countries. It became law in 1990 after ratification by twenty countries, including Spain. It has currently been ratified by all the countries except the United States. International Children’s Day is now celebrated all over the world on the 20th November to commemorate the passing of the «Convention on Children’s Rights» in 1989.