UN Convention Rights of the Child

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) looks at the protection, provision and participation of children and young people in all elements of their life. The UNCRC is a set of 45 rules, called articles, which helps countries, organisations and individuals know what needs to happen to give all children and young people the best start possible. It was written in 1989, and the UK made it into law in 1992. All UN member states – except the United States – have signed it.

The articles help children and young people be safe from harm, have chances to learn and develop, become an individual and get the support needed to thrive. You can download Unicef’s poster summary of the articles (PDF) or see them in pictures from the Children and Young People’s Commissioner for Scotland (PDF).

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) &Us is their network for children, young people, parents and carers who work together to shape policy and practice. They asked children and young people which articles were important to them linked to good health outcomes. They said:

  • Article 12 – The right to be involved in decisions that affect you, from individual care decisions through to shaping health services that you might use
  • Article 23 – Infants, children and young people with disabilities have the right to be involved, which includes having appropriate communication support within health care appointments and engagement work
  • Article 24 – The right to the best health care possible, thinking here about child and youth friendly health services
  • Article 28 – The right to education, thinking about while they are an inpatient, or structuring services to avoid missing school due to medical appointments or supporting engagement sessions in evening and weekends/school holidays
  • Article 31 – The right to rest, relax and play, which in a health context also needs to include support for parents of children with complex health needs to think about how to engage in social activities, and for health care services to acknowledge their role in providing services that do not prevent infants, children and young people from socialising with their peers (eg clinic times)

To make it as easy as possible for you to support The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and understand how it applies to children, young people and your health services the RCPCH have developed the booklet ‘Recipes for Rights’ – the resources in this booklet will take you through the UNCRC and the five articles that RCPCH &Us children and young people have said are important to their health care. 

Shared with thanks to the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, who undertake essential work in education and career support for paediatricians, staff and members on a range of programmes to improve child health – from quality improvement to workforce studies, from research in the UK to global child health programmes. Find out more about the RCPCH including more on the UNCRC and how you can get involved by visting their website here. 

UPDATED: 28/02/2021