Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
CRC is an international human rights treaty adopted in 1989. The UK ratified (agreed to follow) CRC in 1991.
By ratifying CRC, the UK agrees that public bodies should consider the best interests of the child when doing anything that affects children. CRC protects the rights of children in all areas of their life, including their rights to:
- life, survival and development
- freedom from violence, abuse and neglect
- express their views in matters affecting them, including in legal proceedings
- an adequate standard of living
How the treaty is monitored
The implementation of CRC is monitored by the Committee on the Rights of the Child. Around every five years the Committee reviews how well each state is putting into practice the rights in CRC. Find out more about the previous review cycles.
There are six stages in the treaty cycle. Civil society organisations can engage throughout this process. The UN has information on its website on how civil society actors, particularly children, can participate. Guides are also available online for children to report to the UN and for NGOs accompanying children in CRC reporting.
Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) treaty cycle
The CRC review cycle is currently at stage 1: Stakeholders report on progress.
The upcoming reporting cycle is taking place under the simplified reporting procedure. This involves a slightly different process and creates a new set of deadlines and processes.
1. Stakeholders report on progress
- stakeholders should plan to submit their reports 2-3 months before the UN draws up its List of Issues (see stage 2 below). Stakeholder reports are due on 1 November 2020
2. UN publishes list of issues
- the UN will adopt its List of Issues in February 2021
- the adoption of the List of Issues will take place at a Pre-Sessional Working Group meeting, which stakeholders, including children, are encouraged to attend and participate in
3. Stakeholders respond to list of issues
- the UK will be expected to submit its state report by February 2022
- other stakeholders who want to respond to the List of Issues should also plan to submit their reports by February 2022
4. UN examines the government
- it is estimated that the UN review will take place in September 2022
5. UN publishes recommendations
- based on the current timetable, we estimate that the UN will publish its recommendations to the UK in late 2022
- UN publishes recommendations to the UK (June 2016)
6. Government implements recommendations
CRC has three Optional Protocols, which are additional treaties that provide further rights or processes.
The Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography has been ratified by the UK.
The Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict has been ratified by the UK.
The third Optional Protocol allows people to complain directly to the Committee on the Rights of the Child if they believe their rights have been violated. It can only be used once all domestic channels have been exhausted. The UK has not signed up to this.
The Committee on the Rights of the Child has issued a number of General Comments on CRC. These provide further detail on how it should be interpreted, covering issues such as the best interests of the child, participation rights and children’s rights to play and leisure.