Convention on the Rights of the Child
The United Nations adopted The Convention on the Rights of the Child (known as CRC or CROC) in 1989 as a legally binding international instrument to protect the rights of children. Almost every country in the world has ratified the Convention, including Australia.
The Convention sets out 54 Articles and 2 Optional Protocols, while a third Optional Protocol is currently under consideration. The four principal Articles of the Convention are Non-discrimination (Article 2), Best interests of the child (Article 3), Right to life, survival and development (Article 6), and Respect for the views of the child (Article 12).
The whole Convention can be viewed here.
Other articles assert the right to protection from abuse and exploitation, and the right to participate fully in family, cultural and social life.
The Convention requires signatory countries to act in the best interests of the child. This approach recognises the child as an individual in the family, in contrast to previous common law views of the child as the property of the parents.
When a country ratifies the Convention, they agree to protect and ensure children’s rights and to be held accountable for this before the international community. Adherence to the Convention is monitored by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, which is composed of independent human rights experts from UN member countries.
Countries who have ratified the Convention must report to the Committee on the status of children’s rights in their country and how the Convention is being implemented. The Committee then submits yearly reports to the UN General Assembly.
These reports and commentary from the Committee can be found on the Committee’s website: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc.