The Rights of the Child in a Changing World: 25 Years after the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

Editor: Olga Cvejić Jančić

Meant to highlight the maxim that every child deserves the best that we all have to give; this book provides a review of progress made since The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.  It contains reports from 21 countries on the status of the rights of the child.  The reporting countries are:  Australia, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, India, Iran, Japan, Portugal, Romania, Scotland, Serbia, Solomon Islands, Spain, the Netherlands, the UK, the USA, Uzbekistan and Venezuela. There are no reports from Africa.

At the time of publication, 195 countries had signed and ratified the Convention. The USA and Somalia started this process but still had not finished.  This book further discusses the history of The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and how originating efforts started in 1924 with the Declaration of the Rights of the Child (Geneva Declaration).  Many public officials found the Geneva Declaration lacking, so The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted in 1984.

This book further examines the effects and outcomes since 1984. The primary acknowledgment is that governments of numerous countries recognize that children all over the world are living in challenging conditions and these children should have special assistance and consideration.  In recognizing this, countries agree to take necessary measures to improve the lives of these children.

Since 1989, there has been significant resistance to the Convention.  The main argument is that the Convention limits parental rights; however, Jančić points out that states are able to take parental rights into consideration when crafting and enforcing law and policy. There is also a committee that reviews reports from states regarding progress.

Jančić then discusses how each state chooses to define child. Most states consider a person to be a child if that person is under 18 years of age.  There are a few states that operate outside of this number.  Japan considers the age of majority to be 20, while in the Solomon Islands, it is 21. 

Jančić moves on to discuss legal instruments devoted to child rights, what it means to operate in the best interest of the child, the right of a child to know about his/her origin.  She discusses adoptions, children conceived through biomedical assistance, the rights of a child to express his/her views, freedom of thought and religion, physical punishment, and parental responsibility.

Jančić concludes by noting that from the 21 reports, there have definitely been positive changes made over the years.  However, she states that there are still many changes to be made.