Report No. 259
H. Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), 1989.
2.11.1 The first legally binding international document concerning child rights was the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), 1989. The CRC is the most widely ratified human rights treaty, and also ratified by India in 1992. It is one of the clearest and most comprehensive expressions of what the world community wants for its children.21
It includes the 10 principles of the 1959. Declaration of the Rights of the Child, including non-discrimination and best interests of the child, and stretches to 54 articles covering almost every aspect of the child's life, thus creating interdependent rights for children. It covers four major categories of child rights: the right to life, the right to development, the right to protection and the right to participation.
It recognizes the importance of family and casts responsibility on all duty bearers beginning with the family up to state to provide for the protection and harmonious development of child and to uphold standards for all children. Rights include protection from discrimination on grounds of gender, race or minority status as well as from sexual and other forms of exploitation. This Convention laid down a series of rights for children in a legally binding form and brought forward basic human rights for children worldwide.
21 Pia Rebello Britto, Nurper Ulkuer, William P. Hodges and Michael F. McCarthy, 'Global policy landscape and early childhood development' in Pia Rebello Britto, Patrice L. Engle and, Charles M. Super (eds), Handbook of Early Childhood Development Research and Its Impact on Global Policy, Oxford University Press, 2013.
2.11.2 Articles of CRC provides that the State is responsible to "ensure to the maximum extent possible child survival and development" (Article 6), "render appropriate assistance to parents and legal guardians in the performance of their child rearing responsibilities and shall ensure the development of institutions, facilities and services for the care of children (Article 18.2) and "children of working parents have the right to benefit from child care services and facilities for which they are eligible" (Article 18.3).
2.11.3 CRC further advocates for providing for comprehensive programmes for ECD when it urges "in guaranteeing rights to the youngest children, States parties are urged to develop rights-based, multidimensional and multi-sectoral strategies that promote a systematic and integrated approach to law and policy development and provide comprehensive and continuous programmes in early childhood development, taking into consideration children's evolving capacity in light of article 5 of the Convention.
In view of the crucial importance of early childhood programmes for the sound development of children, the Committee calls on States parties to ensure that all children are guaranteed access to these programmes, especially the most vulnerable." The Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, 2000 to the CRC, ratified by India in 2005, is intended to achieve certain purposes of the CRCs by requiring the States to take measures to guarantee the protection of the child from the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.
It requires the ratifying States to take all possible measures to criminalize offences of child sale, prostitution and pornography and prosecute offenders domestically. The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 2000, ratified by India in 2005, is a milestone in the campaign to end the recruitment and use of child soldiers, strengthen the legal protection of children and in helping to prevent their use in armed conflict.
It requires ratifying States to ban compulsory recruitment below the age of 18 and to take all measures to ensure that members of their armed forces under the age of 18 are exempted from taking direct part in hostilities.
2.11.4 Although rights to health and nutrition, education and learning, care and protection, and play were included in the CRC, they were not incorporated adequately to endorse ECD. Due to ambiguity regarding the rights of young children and a narrow interpretation of ECD that restricted it to child survival, registration of birth and the right to name and nationality, General Comment (GC7), 200522 was added to the CRC to deal with implementation of all rights for ECD.
The Comment strongly recommends that special plans of action be adopted for the identification of goals, the allocation of resources and the determination of time limits to achieve the goals under CRC.23 The Comment underlines the truth that governments, public services and persons who live and work with children all share the duty to establish the proper conditions so that children can realize their potential.
It clarifies that the young children are not only formally entitled to the rights that are vicariously claimed for them by parents or guardians, but should already begin to exercise those rights on their own in a practical sense through their actions and interactions, as well as through the concerns they express both for themselves and for others.
Every attempt to find out the best interests of the child must be confirmed by paying attention to the child so as to capture the views and feelings the child expresses in verbal and non-verbal ways. Thoughtful, sensitive persons must listen to and seek to comprehend and respond to the demands and emotional states of the child because the survival, well-being and development of the child depend on the child's integration through interaction with others.
22 Convention on the Rights of Child, General Comment No. 7 (2005), Implementing child rights in early childhood, CRC/C/GC/7/Rev.1, 20 September 2006, available at
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/docs/AdvanceVersions/GeneralComment7Rev1.pdf (accessed 9 June 2015
23 Supra note 2.