Children’s rights then followed the same path. In 1978, on the eve of the United Nations-sponsoredInternational Year of the Child, a draft text was proposed for the Convention on the Rights of the Child.Drawing heavily from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the International Covenant on Civiland Political Rights; and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, a workinggroup within the United Nations then collaborated and revised the draft, finally agreeing what becamethe articles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.Final approval from United Nations Member States came when the UN General Assembly unanimouslyadopted the text of the Convention on the Rights of the Child on 20 November 1989. The Conventionthen became legally binding in September 1990, after 20 States had ratified it. Many countries ratifiedthe Convention very soon after it was adopted and others continued to ratify or accede to it, making itthe most widely ratified human rights treaty. Nearly all States are now parties. Somalia and the UnitedStates have not yet ratified the Convention but have signed it, indicating their support.
The role of the United Nations in respect for human rights
© UNICEF/ HQ02-0144/Susan MarkiszIn May 2002, the UN Special Session of the General Assembly on Childrenfocused attention on making progressfor children and investing in them askeys to building global peace andsecurity.
The United Nations has repeatedly emphasized the need to integrate human rights into the broad rangeof its activities. It is essential to recognize the potential of almost all UN human rights mechanisms andprocedures for contributing to the protection and promotion of children’s rights.
Human rights treaties
The creation of a body of international human rights law is one of the United Nations’ greatachievements. The United Nations has helped negotiate more than 70 human rights treaties anddeclarations—many focused on the rights of vulnerable groups such as women, children, persons withdisabilities, minorities and indigenous peoples. Together, these treaties and declarations have helpedcreate a ‘culture of human rights’ throughout the world, providing a powerful tool to protect andpromote all rights. In accordance with the treaties, States parties have set up treaty bodycommittees that may call upon States to respond to allegations, adopt decisions and publish them alongwith criticisms or recommendations. For the full text of the core human rights treaties, see the linksat right.
World Conferences and Summits
The standards articulated in the international covenants and conventions have been reinforced throughdeclarations and plans of action that have emerged from a series of World Conferences organized by theUnited Nations. These conferences have gained importance as real forums for deciding on national andinternational policy regarding such global issues as the environment, human rights and economicdevelopment. They focus world attention on these issues and place them squarely on the global agenda.UNICEF's work in the area of child rights is informed by the World Summit for Children (1990), as wellas by the World Conference on Education for All (1990), the World Conference on Human Rights (1993),