2.7 What is meant by ‘non-discrimination’?
Human rights apply equally to every child. No child must be discriminated against on any grounds. For example, it is not acceptable to say that the right to education for children with disabilities is less important than for other children. It is also not acceptable to allow different levels of funding for services for one ethnic group over another. Children who are stateless or refugees or asylum seekers have exactly the same rights as any other child – the right to food, shelter, education, and protection, for example.
Discrimination can be defined as any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference which is based on a particular 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 removing or harming the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by all persons, on an equal footing, of all human rights and freedoms.(United Nations, 2009)
The articles in the UN Convention and the African Charter place a clear obligation on governments to respect and ensure the realisation of all rights to all children without discrimination on any grounds.
State Parties shall respect and ensure the rights set forth in the present Convention to each child within their jurisdiction without discrimination of any kind, irrespective of the child’s or his or her parent’s or legal guardian’s race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, disability, birth or other status.(From Article 2, United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child)
Every child shall be entitled to the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms recognized and guaranteed by this Charter irrespective of the child’s or his/her parents’ or legal guardians’ race, ethnic group, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, fortune, birth or other status.(From Article 3, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child)