How Does the CRC Impact Children

A historic event took place on 20 November 1989 when world leaders adopted the CRC in the UN General Assembly. Since its inception more than 24 years ago, the CRC has become the most-widely ratified human rights treaty in history. This is a testament to the common understanding among countries and communities that children have the right to survive and develop;  to be protected from violence, abuse and exploitation; and for their right to participate in their communities.

During the past two decades the CRC has transformed the view and the treatment of children in many countries throughout the world.

According to UNICEF, the CRC has exerted a pervasive and profound influence on national and international legislation, policy and programs, public and private institutions, families, communities and individuals.

UNICEF published a report on the improvements that the CRC made in children’s lives which can be read here. They also have a great amount of information at

24 years of the CRC:
Impact on National and International Legislation

Signed by every country and ratified in all but the US, the CRC has led to significant changes in national legislation and international treaties:

  • The CRC’s principles have taken root in national and local legislation.
  • The CRC has motivated governments to place children at the center of legislative agendas.
  • The CRC has resulted in over 70 countries incorporating child codes into national legislation as a part of law reform.
  • The CRC has encouraged national and local governments to adopt “child-friendly” budgets.

24 years of the CRC:
Changes in Policies and Programs

Clearly, the CRC is not a panacea to solve all problems facing children – even after twenty years of the CRC, too many children around the world still cannot go to school, still face exploitation, physical and sexual abuse, still lack access to basic health services.

But because nearly every nation ratified the CRC, the Convention gives governments, international and local organizations a powerful tool to say to other governments, are you really doing the best you can for your children? Does your government have the laws and systems in place to protect your children and support your families?  And that has helped make the world a better place for children:

In Niger, which has the highest incidence of child marriage in the world, local organizations used Niger’s ratification of the CRC to help convince tribal leaders to speak out against this harmful traditional practice – with the results that hundreds of communities have agreed to stop the practice.

In Egypt, the CRC was a major tool in the campaign against female genital mutilation, leading to a ministerial decree and a statement by the country’s top Muslim institution against the practice.

India instituted universal, free elementary education as a response to its ratification of the CRC.

24 years of the CRC:
How Children their Families and communities are impacted

The CRC has supported marked advances in survival and development, protection, and participation across the world.

24 years of the CRC: Advances in Survival and Development

The annual number of under-five deaths worldwide has fallen from around 12.5 million in 1990 to less than 9 million in 2008.

Between 1990 and 2006, 1.6 billion people worldwide gained access to improved water sources.

Globally, around 84 percent of primary-school-age children are attending school, and gender gaps in primary school enrollment are shrinking across the developing world.

The fight against the AIDS pandemic is intensifying and yielding results, with steady increases in the number of pregnant women born with HIV receiving anti-retroviral drugs to prevent mother-to-child transmission of the virus.

Growing numbers of newborns and infants are tested and given medication to protect them from HIV.

Source: Celebrating 23 years of the Convention on the Rights of the Child: The State of the World’s Children, Special Edition (UNICEF), 2009