Faith and Children’s Rights
Long before children’s rights were articulated and recognized in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), religious groups were taking action for children based on the tenets of love, compassion, peace and non-violence.
From the very beginning of the drafting of the CRC, some faith communities were actively involved in shaping its content, and some were instrumental in promoting its ratification. The sanctity and dignity of human life is at the heart of the world’s major religions and is also enshrined in the body of international human rights law.
Similarly, the key principles of universality, interrelatedness and indivisibility of rights, non-discrimination and equality, found in all the human rights instruments, including the CRC, are rooted in values that are common to the world’s major religions. Many deeply held religious values are closely aligned with the principles and norms of the CRC. Both religious groups and others committed to promoting the implementation of the CRC prioritize actions that help secure child well-being.
The CRC and the world’s major religions largely agree on these key points:
- A fundamental belief in the sanctity of life and the dignity of the child;
- An emphasis on the family as the best environment for bringing up children;
- The high priority given to children and the idea that all members of society have rights and duties toward them; and
- A holistic notion of the child and a comprehensive understanding of his or her physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs.
The rights enshrined in the CRC provide a framework for ensuring that every child can develop to his or her fullest potential — and the full realization of human potential is one of the core concerns of the world’s religions.
The CRC explicitly refers to the child’s “spiritual, moral and social development” in Article 27.
The CRC stands out today as a widely shared agenda for the protection of children’s rights and most widely ratified human rights treaty in history, with 196 States Parties committed to fulfilling the rights of children in their countries.
Religious leaders and communities are powerful allies for protecting the rights of children and should be included as partners in this effort. A key message derived from Faith and Children’s Rights: A Multi-religious Study on the Convention on the Rights of the Child is that children’s rights are critical, and that religious communities can be essential allies, play major roles, and could help advance the realization of children’s rights if they were to learn more about it, self-examine their practices and, ultimately, become empowered by the CRC.
See these sources for more:
(i) Faith and Children’s Rights: A Multi-religious Study on the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Arigatou International (2019). New York, N.Y.