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Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

In brief: The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was adopted unanimously by the United Nations General Assembly in 1989. It emphasizes the primacy and importance of the role of parents. Although 193 have ratified the CRC, the United States is not among them. The only other country not to have ratified the CRC is Somalia, which currently has no functional centralized government.

Status and details  |  Complete history


The Convention on the Rights of the Child is widely recognized as the first legally-binding international instrument that incorporates the full range of human rights—civil, cultural, economic, political, and social—into a single text. It was drafted with the specific purpose of promoting and protecting the well-being of all children, regardless of national boundaries.

The CRC prioritizes childhood in setting forth basic standards, which individual nations agree to pursue on behalf of children, including providing assistance to parents as they fulfill their childrearing responsibilities. These norms rest on the Convention's four underlying themes:

In emphasizing the primacy and importance of the role and authority of parents, the treaty calls for governments to respect their responsibilities, rights, and duties to provide direction and guidance to their children. In addition, the CRC calls on governments to develop and implement policies and programs that ensure all children will grow up in supportive family and community environments that foster an atmosphere of happiness, love, and understanding.

Learn More

»Read the full text of the Convention on the Rights of the Child 

»Download an advocacy toolkit supporting the CRC

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