When did Vietnam ratify UN Convention on the Rights of the Child?

Vietnam was the first country in Asia and the second in the world to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1990.

CRC was adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by UN General Assembly resolution 44/25 of 20 November 1989. It entered into force on 2 September 1990. So far it has been approved by 196 countries, making it the human rights document approved most widely globally.

The 30th anniversary of UN child right convention is marked in Hanoi in 2019. Photo: daibieunhandan.com

What is the Convention on the Rights of the Child?

Contained in this treaty is a profound idea: that children are not just objects who belong to their parents and for whom decisions are made, or adults in training. Rather, they are human beings and individuals with their own rights. The Convention says childhood is separate from adulthood, and lasts until 18; it is a special, protected time, in which children must be allowed to grow, learn, play, develop and flourish with dignity. The Convention went on to become the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history and has helped transform children’s lives. 

How was it decided what should go into the Convention on the Rights of the Child?

The standards in the Convention on the Rights of the Child were negotiated by governments, non-governmental organizations, human rights advocates, lawyers, health specialists, social workers, educators, child development experts and religious leaders from all over the world, over a 10-year period. The result is a consensus document that takes into account the importance of tradition and cultural values for the protection and harmonious development of the child. It reflects the principal legal systems of the world and acknowledges the specific needs of developing countries.


How does the Convention on the Rights of the Child protect children's rights?

The Convention defines a "child" as a person below the age of 18, unless the relevant laws recognize an earlier age of majority. On some issues, States are obliged to provide for minimum ages, such as the age for admission into employment and completion of compulsory education; but in other cases the Convention is unequivocal in prohibiting life imprisonment without possibility of release or capital punishment for those under 18 years of age.


How does the Convention on the Rights of the Child define a child?

The Convention defines a "child" as a person below the age of 18, unless the relevant laws recognize an earlier age of majority. On some issues, States are obliged to provide for minimum ages, such as the age for admission into employment and completion of compulsory education; but in other cases the Convention is unequivocal in prohibiting life imprisonment without possibility of release or capital punishment for those under 18 years of age.


What are the Convention’s guiding principles?

The guiding principles of the Convention are: non-discrimination; the best interests of the child as a primary consideration in all actions concerning children; the child’s inherent right to life, and State Parties’ obligation to ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child; and the child’s right to express his or her views freely in all matters affecting the child, with those views being given due weight.  


What is the vision of the child in the Convention on the Rights of the Child?

The Convention provides a universal set of standards to be adhered to by all countries. It reflects a new vision of the child. Children are neither the property of their parents nor are they helpless objects of charity. They are human beings and are the subject of their own rights. The Convention offers a vision of the child as an individual and a member of a family and a community, with rights and responsibilities appropriate to his or her age and stage of development. Recognizing children's rights in this way firmly sets a focus on the whole child. 


How is the Convention on the Rights of the Child special?

The Convention:

  • Is the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history – in force in virtually all countries of the world, thus providing a common ethical and legal framework for the realization of children’s rights. 
  • Was the first time a formal commitment was made to ensure the realization of child rights and monitor progress on the situation of children.
  • Indicates that children's rights can no longer be perceived as an option, as a question of favour or kindness to children or as an expression of charity. Children’s rights generate obligations and responsibilities that we all must honour and respect.
  • Has been recognized by non-state entities. 
  • Is a reference for many organizations working with and for children –  including NGOs, and entities within the UN system.
  • Reaffirms that all rights are equally important and essential for the full development of a child and that each and every child is important.
  • Reaffirms the notion of State accountability for the realization of human rights and the values of transparency and public scrutiny that are associated with it.
  • Promotes an international system of solidarity designed to achieve the realization of children's rights. Donor countries are called upon to provide assistance in areas where particular needs have been identified; recipient countries are called upon to direct overseas development assistance to that end too.
  • Highlights the role of society, communities and families to promote and protect children's rights.

How many countries have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child?

The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most rapidly ratified human rights treaty in history. More countries have ratified the Convention than any other human rights treaty in history – 196 countries have become State Parties to the Convention as of October 2015. Only the United States of America has not ratified the Convention. By signing the Convention, the United States has signalled its intention to ratify, but has yet to do so.

Children in Y Ty Commune, Bat Xat District, the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai.  VNS Photo Viet Thanh

30th anniversary of convention on children’s rights

Vietnam was the first country in Asia and the second country in the world to ratify the CRC in 1990. Over the past three decades, Vietnam’s strong political commitment and leadership on child rights has led to improvements in the lives of millions of children in the country. More children are benefiting from a protective legal framework, more children are surviving at birth with access to quality health care, more children are learning knowledge and skills for the future starting from pre-school, and more children are benefited from social welfare policies.

With the country’s efforts, mothers have enjoyed better conditions to take care of their babies, according to the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs. The Law on Labour 2012 increased maternity leave from four months to six months so that babies can have breastfeeding during their first six months.

The rate of casualties in under-five-year-old children has reduced by 75 per cent in the past 30 years.

Vietnam has also eliminated many dangerous diseases thanks to vaccination such as polio and newborn tetanus.

The rate of children suffering from stunting due to malnutrition has been cut by half.

The Constitution 2013 was a significant advance in ensuring children’s rights with a separate chapter regulating human rights and detailed articles related to children. The Law on Children 2016 also created a basic legal framework to implement children’s rights.

Phuong Minh