The right to non-discrimination

All rights in the UN Convention apply to all children without discrimination on any grounds.

Discrimination can be defined as:

any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference which is based on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status, and which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by all persons, on an equal footing, of all rights and freedoms

(Human Rights Committee, 1990)

In order to fully realise the right to health for all children, governments must ensure that children’s health is not undermined as a result of discrimination, such as:

  • Gender-based discrimination including female infanticide, discriminatory infant and young child feeding practices, gender stereotyping and unequal access to services. Attention should be given to differing needs of girls and boys, and the way in which cultural attitudes and practices affect their health and development.
  • Harmful gender-based practices, such as female genital mutilation or scarring that undermine the right to health of girls and boys, should be given more attention by health practitioners.
  • Children in disadvantaged areas, like refugee camps and rural areas, may receive a poorer service.

All these factors should be considered by governments when developing programmes and policies that work towards ensuring equity.

1.9 Guiding principles of the UN Convention and the African Charter

The best interests of the child