A mother reading to her kids.

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC)

What is the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child?

UNCROC is a comprehensive human rights treaty that enshrines specific children's rights in international law. It was adopted by the United Nations in 1989 and defines universal principles and standards for the status and treatment of children worldwide.

UNCROC was ratified by New Zealand in 1993. All United Nations member states, except for the United States of America, have ratified the Convention.

Why is UNCROC important?

UNCROC guarantees basic and fundamental rights to the world's children. The rights are set out in 54 articles that establish human rights standards for the treatment of children and young people.

The rights include civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, and set out in detail what every child needs to have a safe, happy and fulfilled childhood.

In simple terms, what are the UNCROC rights?

UNCROC gives children and young people up to the age of 18 the right to:

  • life, survival and development
  • the Government making sure that the best interests of the child are taken into account when making decisions about the child
  • access to education and health care
  • grow up in an environment of happiness, love and understanding
  • protection from discrimination of any sort
  • develop their personalities, abilities and talents
  • protection from sexual exploitation, abuse and economic exploitation
  • special measures to protect those that are in conflict with the law
  • an opinion and for that opinion to be heard
  • be informed about and participate in achieving their rights
  • special measures to protect those belonging to minority groups.

What are UNCROC Optional Protocols?

Optional Protocols to UNCROC increase obligations beyond those under the main treaty and provide greater protections for children in particular areas.

How do we report on our UNCROC obligations?

State Parties to UNCROC periodically report to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child on progress towards fulfilling the obligations they agreed to when they ratified the treaty.

How do we support New Zealand’s commitment to UNCROC?

A Child Impact Assessment (CIA) Tool has been developed to help government and non-government organisations in New Zealand assess whether policy proposals will improve the wellbeing of children and young people.

This supports New Zealand’s commitment to UNCROC and the development of policies that explicitly consider the potential impacts on children and young people. Government agencies are required to consider and apply the principles of UNCROC in their work with and for children and young people.

How is the implementation of UNCROC monitored?

The implementation of UNCROC is co-ordinated by the Children's Convention Deputy Chief Executives group, and monitored by the Children's Convention Monitoring Group.