In 1989, governments worldwide promised all children the same rights by adopting the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, also known as the CRC or UNCRC. The Convention changed the way children are viewed and treated – in other words, as human beings with a distinct set of rights instead of as passive objects of care and charity.

These rights describe what a child needs to survive, grow, and live up to their potential in the world. They apply equally to every child, no matter who they are or where they come from.

The CRC is the basis of all of Unicef's work. It is the most complete statement of children’s rights ever produced and is the most widely-ratified international human rights treaty in history.

Unicef is the only organisation working for children recognised by the Convention. All UN member states except for the United States, Somalia and South Sudan have approved the CRC. The UK signed it in 1990, and it came into UK law in 1992.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child is in charge of making sure that the Convention is properly observed by the countries who have signed it. Find out more about the Committee’s work.