The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (commonly abbreviated as the CRC) is a legally binding international instrument adopted by the General Assembly on 20th November 1989. The Convention sets out the full range of human rights: civil, cultural, economic, political and social.
The Convention was adopted because world leaders recognized that children often need special care and protection that adults do not. According to the CRC, a child is any human being under the age of eighteen, unless an earlier age of majority is recognized by a country's law.
The CRC consists of 54 articles and two Optional Protocols, one on the involvement of children in armed conflicts and one on sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.
The Convention spells out the basic human rights that children everywhere have: the right to survival, to develop to the fullest, to protection from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation, and to participate fully in family, cultural and social life.
The four core principles of the Convention are non-discrimination, devotion to the best interests of the child, the right to life, survival and development, and respect for the views of the child.
The Convention protects children's rights by setting standards in health care, education, and legal, civil and social services.
So far, 195 national Governments - including every member of the United Nations except Somalia and the United States have ratified the Convention committing themselves to protect and ensure children's rights and agreeing to hold themselves accountable for this commitment before the international community.