A child rights-based approach is grounded in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC or CRC), a set of internationally agreed legal standards which lay out a vision of childhood underpinned by dignity, equality, safety and participation. Taking a child rights-based approach means using the Convention as a practical framework for working with and for children and young people.

The goal of a child rights-based approach (CRBA) is to promote and secure the full range of a child’s human rights. It has the following characteristics:

  • It serves as a practical framework for working with and for children.
  • Rights provide the lens through which all actions affecting children should be rooted, reviewed and resolved.
  • It requires knowledge and awareness of children's rights by adults as well as children and young people.
  • It promotes and strengthens the relationship between children as rights holders and governments and services as duty bearers*. Children are empowered to know about and claim their rights and duty bearers are accountable for ensuring that children experience their rights. 

The approach, developed by Unicef UK, is guided by a set of seven mutually-reinforcing principles:

  1. Dignity
  2. Best interests of the child
  3. Non-discrimination
  4. Life, survival and development
  5. Participation
  6. Interdependence and indivisibility
  7. Transparency and accountability.

* Governments are duty bearers because they have a particular obligation or responsibility to respect, promote and realise human rights and not violate human rights.

Definition of Unicef UK's child rights-based approach © Unicef UK/14/Fields
Children in their school in Tower Hamlets, London, one of Unicef UK's local authority partners.© Unicef UK/14/Fields