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Children too have rights...

All human beings have and enjoy basic rights. You are also entitled to all these rights, but being children, you are especially vulnerable and so have particular rights that recognize this special need for protection. What exactly are these rights; are you aware of them?

The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1989, is where you will find all these rights.

This Convention, which is an internationally accepted document, sets out the rights that all children have, and comprises the full range of rights that are necessary for the survival, development and protection of children in society.

Its non-negotiable standards and obligations provide legal protection for children against the worst forms of exploitation and support their rights. It was the first instrument to incorporate the complete range of international human rights - including civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights, as well as aspects of humanitarian law.

Its basic premise is that children (those below the age of 18) are born with fundamental freedoms and the inherent rights of all human beings. According to this, every child is born with rights; each has the right to an education, to be free from hunger and want, health and proper healthcare, the right to a name and nationality, the right to participate in matters that affect them and to be treated equally and the right to be protected from harm and child labour.

The Convention has been ratified more quickly and by more governments than any other human rights instrument. As at December 2005, nearly all states including Sri Lanka were party to it, except the USA and Somalia. Although these two countries haven't yet ratified the Convention, they have signed it, indicating support.

Many governments have taken additional steps, even enacting legislation, creating mechanisms and putting into place a range of creative measures to ensure the protection and realisation of the rights of all children.

In 2000, the United Nations General Assembly adopted two Optional Protocols to the Convention to increase the protection of children from involvement in armed conflicts and from sexual exploitation.

UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund) is the UN arm dedicated to protect and contribute to the development of children everywhere. Its objectives are to give children the best start in life, help them survive and thrive, ensure children are in school and create a protective environment for them especially in emergencies.

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