Module 1. Introduction to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

Learning objectives of this module
  1. Recognize the main rights embodied in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC.)
  2. Appreciate the relationship between different rights.
  3. Describe the international obligations on governments associated with the CRC.


This module will provide an overall understanding of the scope of the CRC and its implications for children. The CRC, as you learned in Unit 1, was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1989 and has become the most widely ratified international human rights treaty. It includes a comprehensive framework of rights together with mechanisms for holding governments accountable for its implementation. Having an understanding of not only what the CRC contains, but also the obligations associated with signing it, is an important starting point in beginning to explore how it can be used in your work as a health professional to promote and strengthen the rights and health and well-being of children.

The scope of the CRC

As you saw in Unit 1, the CRC is a comprehensive human rights treaty addressing civil and political, economic, social and cultural rights. It is divided into four parts:

Preamble: Establishes the context for understanding the CRC.

  • Part 1: Contains 41 the substantive rights of children.
  • Part 2: Establishes the procedures for monitoring the implementation of the CRC.
  • Part 3: Elaborates the mechanisms for ratifying or "signing up to” the CRC.

Each individual section or paragraph is known as an Article. The CRC contains 54 articles in total.

In addition, there are three optional protocols. These are additional provisions that have been drafted since the original CRC was adopted to strengthen the provisions of the original text. They are:

  • Optional Protocol to the CRC on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.
  • Optional Protocol to the CRC on Children in Armed Conflict.
  • Optional Protocol on a Complaint Procedure.

Only the last of these will be dealt with in this unit. The first two will be dealt with in a subsequent unit.