Children's rights

The United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) forms the basis of the work of Terre des Hommes. In helping children, we make no distinction between race, creed, gender or political affiliation. Because every child has the right to grow up in a safe environment without being exploited.

The UN Conventions on the Rights of the Child

The rights of children are defined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This convention brings together political, civil, economic, cultural and social child rights.The UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on 20 november 1989. Currently, 196 countries are party to it, including every member of the United Nations except for  the United States of America. The legal system in some federal states of the US are at odds with the provisions in the Convention. For instance  capital punishment is still permissible in some states as is the law that allows minors to be given a sentence of life imprisonment. The Netherlands ratified the UN Convention in 1995, with the exception of some reservations on the following three articles:

  • Art. 26 on social security rights of children,
  • Art. 37 on the application of adult criminal law for 16-17 year olds,
  • Art. 40 on limiting legal aid and appeal to children.

The Convention gives equal rights to all children, defined as any human being under the age of eighteen, without discrimination. The convention deals with children's rights in all situations that a child may find him/herself in during both easy and difficult times. It includes living conditions, health, education, parenting, parents, leisure but also for example covers the rights of children living on the streets, sickness and disability, those who are exploited and those who are fleeing. Children are entitled to protection at all times .

According to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the interests of the child must be the first consideration in all decisions affecting children. Children also have the right to be heard in all matters that concern them. The views of the child should be given appropriate consideration. Next to equality, respect for children is one of the  basic principles of the Convention.

Additional protocols

In 2000, the Convention adopted two optional additional protocols. The first protocol prohibits the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, the second protocol restricts the  involvement of children in military conflict. Both protocols have been ratified by more than 140 countries, including the Netherlands.

In April 2014 a third optional protocol came into force. This protocol states that children, and their representatives, may file a case with the Child rights Committee if their rights have been violated in their own country and national procedures have been followed but without success. Cases may be filed  to the Committee on behalf of a child or group of children. Additionally states are able to  prosecute other states for child rights violations. The Netherlands has not ratified this protocol.

Terre des Hommes defends children's rights

Terre des Hommes protects children who are exploited and provides assistance to those who are in need of emergency aid. All of our programmes have been developed based upon the CRC. During implementation of  our  programmes  children are informed about their rights. Children receive coaching which bolsters them with more confidence so that they can stand up for themselves and other children.

Terre des Hommes brings violations of children to the attention of the Dutch government and parliament. Working individually or in cooperation with our partners, we write incendiary letters, we pose questions to MPs and ministers, we brief the MPs and ministers concerned about abuses and we call for change in policy or laws.

As a result of a research report on child labour in the Indian mica mines and our letter concerning this which was sent to the Parliamentary Committee for Foreign Trade and Development, MP Van Laar raised questions in parliament to Minister Ploumen who has responded in writing. As a member of the Platform Stop child sex tourism we are contributors to the Dutch progress report for Child Pornography and Child sex tourism and we are involved in the international Don’t Look Away campaign. We participate in various working groups striving for better protection for the rights of the child in Dutch policy . We focus not only on the Netherlands but abroad as well. Terre des Hommes believes that human rights is not just a matter for government or civil society, and we are also seeking cooperation from the business world in the fight against child exploitation.

We work within the framework of Sustainable Development. These goals were set by the United Nations to end extreme poverty by 2030.

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