Twenty years later: Progress being made for children but much more work lies ahead

The Convention on the Rights of the Child is a universal standard for building a better world — a world in which the best interests of children are a primary concern of all. This Nov. 20 the global community commemorates the 20th anniversary of the Convention, the most widely ratified international human rights treaty in history.

The era of the Convention has seen marked advances in child survival and development, expanded and consolidated efforts to protect children, and a growing recognition of the importance of empowering children to participate in their own development and protection.


One of the most outstanding achievements has been the reduction in the annual number of under-5 deaths, from 12.5 million in 1990 to less than 9 million in 2008.

But much more must be done to make the promise of the Convention a reality for every child around the world.

More than 24,000 children under the age of 5 still die per day from preventable causes.

And, millions of children, particularly in Africa and Asia, still lack access to quality health care, food, education, adequate water sources and shelter. Even more, between 500 million and 1.5 billion children experience some form of violence each year.

The Convention has paved the way for the consolidation of child protection as a holistic concept, offering children the right to be safeguarded against a broad spectrum of violence, exploitation, abuse, discrimination and neglect.

The challenge for the next 20 years is to build on the progress the Convention has already achieved, working together to reach those children who are still being denied their rights to survival, development, protection and participation.

– Ann Veneman is the executive director of UNICEF. UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. To learn more about UNICEF, go to

Metro does not endorse the opinions of the author, or any opinions expressed on its pages. Opposing viewpoints are welcome. Please send 400-word submissions to

Latest From ...