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Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

NEA has partnered with The Campaign for U.S. Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), a volunteer-driven network of academics, attorneys, advocates for child and human rights, educators, members of religious and faith-based communities, physicians, representatives from non-governmental organizations, students, and other concerned citizens who seek to bring about U.S. ratification and implementation of the CRC.

NEA and the Campaign for US Ratification of the human rights treaty for children invite you to sign our petition urging President Obama to submit the CRC to the Senate by Universal Children’s Day, 20 November 2012. 

 Sign the petition urging President Obama to submit the Convention on the Rights of the Child to the Senate by Universal Children’s Day 20 November 2012.


The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the United Nations human rights treaty, establishes children’s rights to quality education; freedom of expression, association and assembly; protection from abuse; and the right to a family. 

The United States is one of two nations that has not ratified CRC, though our country played a pivotal role in drafting the treaty in the 1980’s before the UN General Assembly adopted it on 20 November 1989.

Help the United States join the global community to ensure universal rights for children.  U.S. ratification of the human rights treaty for children will bolster the efforts of the world community in safeguarding our most valuable resource — our children. It is up to U.S. to ratify the CRC. 

Find out more about the Convention on the Rights of the Child.


Adopted unanimously by the United Nations General Assembly in 1989 and instituted as international law in 1990, the CRC is widely recognized as the first legally-binding international instrument that incorporates the full range of human rights—civil, cultural, economic, political, and social—into a single text. It was drafted with the specific purpose of promoting and protecting the well-being of all children, regardless of national boundaries.

As of 2009, 193 countries have ratified the Convention, signifying their commitment to universal child welfare except the United States and Somalia.

The Convention prioritizes childhood in setting forth basic standards which individual nations agree to pursue on behalf of children, including providing assistance to parents as they fulfill their childrearing responsibilities. These norms rest on the Convention's four underlying themes:

  1. the right to Survival;
  2. the right to Develop to the fullest potential;
  3. the right to Protection from abuse, neglect, and exploitation; and
  4. the right to Participate in family, cultural, and social Life.

Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict

Warring nations, paramilitaries and guerilla groups use children under the age of 18 as soldiers. There are approximately 300,000 children in over 40 countries currently in military conflict.

The Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) entered into force in February 2002. This Optional Protocol, or amendment to the UN children’s right treaty, bans the use of children under the age of 18 in armed conflicts while recognizing the right of nations to voluntarily recruit 16 and 17 year olds into military service.

The treaty includes provisions for the demilitarization of children and their rehabilitation into society.


Basics on Child Soldiers

Warring nations, paramilitaries and guerilla groups use children under the age of 18 as soldiers. There are approximately 300,000 children in over 40 countries currently in military conflict.

At times, the military service by children is involuntary and accompanied by kidnapping, violence to the children’s family members, sexual exploitation and forced drug abuse.

United States military policy was changed in 2000 and is now compatible with the Child Soldier Protocol. Eighteen is the minimum age for involvement in military conflict, while voluntary recruitment of 16 and 17 year olds continues.

Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography

Children who are victims of child prostitution, exploitation, trafficking and sexual abuse deserve every protection we can offer. - Carole Bellamy, UNICEF

The Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography raises the international standards for protecting children from all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse. In 2002, the United States ratified this optional protocol even though it has not ratified the CRC.

Approximately one million children, mostly girls, become a part of the worldwide, multi-billion dollar commercial sex trade each year. Girls, and sometimes boys, are coerced with promises of education and a "good" job. In some situations, children are abducted and forced into sexual slavery.

The most vulnerable children are those who are refugees, orphans, abandoned by families, child laborers working as domestic servants, and those affected by war. The trend of recruiting younger girls in the sex trade is based on the myth that girls are unlikely to be infected with HIV.

The Agreement The Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography calls for governments to implement measures to:

  • Punish adults who support and run the sex trade;
  • Coordinate investigations and legal actions with other governments;
  • Take action to end child sexual abuse, especially among vulnerable groups;
  • Deliver programs to ensure that children who have been involved in the sex trade receive appropriate medical, social and educational services.

Education International