Module 2. Children's Needs and Rights

Learning Objectives of This Module

  1. Outline the universal needs of children required for optimal health and development.
  2. Discuss the relationship between children’s needs and children’s rights.
  3. Explain how the relationship of children as rights-holders creates an entitlement to have their rights fulfilled by adult duty-bearers.


This module explores the needs that children have at each stage of their lives, examines whether children in all societies have needs in common, and highlights which needs differentiate children from adults. It then explores the relationship between children’s needs and the concept that they have rights.

Children’s needs form the basis for defining standards widely recognized as necessary for optimal health and development of all children in all societies. As such, these needs rise to the level of being established through the near universal ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) as fundamental rights. Since the ratification of the CRC, there has been recognition within the international community that as children have needs (rights) in common, adults and society have obligations to fulfill them. In the parlance of human rights, children, as rights holders, are entitled to have their rights met in order for them to fulfill their optimum potential. And adults, as duty-bearers, have the obligation to ensure children have the capacity to fulfill their rights. This module will provide an overview of the relationship between needs and rights. Units 2 and 3 will provide more information about the nature of children’s rights and their relevance and application to the work of health professionals.