|World Declaration on the
Survival, Protection, and Development of Children
The Challenge | The Opportunity | The Task
| The Commitment | The
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| Summary | UN Declaration of the Rights Of The Child
The Convention on
the Rights of the Child | Keeping
the Promise to the World's Children
Agreed to at the World Summit for
on 30 September 1990:
- We have gathered at the World Summit for Children to undertake
a joint commitment and to make an urgent universal appeal - to give every child a better
- The children of the world are innocent, vulnerable and
dependent. They are also curious, active and full of hope. Their time should be one of joy
and peace, of playing, learning and growing. Their future should be shaped in harmony and
co-operation. Their lives should mature, as they broaden their perspectives and gain new
- But for many children, the reality of childhood is altogether
- Each day, countless children around the world are exposed to
dangers that hamper their growth and development. They suffer immensely as casualties of
war and violence; as victims of racial discrimination, apartheid, aggression, foreign
occupation and annexation; as refugees and displaced children, forced to abandon their
homes and their roots; as disabled; or as victims of neglect, cruelty and exploitation.
- Each day, millions of children suffer from the scourges of
poverty and economic crisis - from hunger and homelessness, from epidemics and illiteracy,
from degradation of the environment. They suffer from the grave effects of the problems of
external indebtedness and also from the lack of sustained and sustainable growth in many
developing countries, particularly the least developed ones.
- Each day, 40,000 children die from malnutrition and disease,
including acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), from the lack of clean water and
inadequate sanitation and from the effects of the drug problem.
- These are challenges that we, as political leaders, must meet.
- Together, our nations have the means and the knowledge to
protect the lives and to diminish enormously the suffering of children, to promote the
full development of their human potential and to make them aware of their needs, rights
and opportunities. The Convention on the Rights of the Child provides a new opportunity to
make respect for children's rights and welfare truly universal.
- Recent improvements in the international political climate can
facilitate this task. Through international co-operation and solidarity it should now be
possible to achieve concrete results in many fields - to revitalize economic growth and
development, to protect the environment, to prevent the spread of fatal and crippling
diseases and to achieve greater social and economic justice. The current moves towards
disarmament also mean that significant resources could be released for purposes other than
military ones. Improving the well-being of children must be a very high priority when
these resources are reallocated.
- Enhancement of children's health and nutrition is a first
duty, and also a task for which solutions are now within reach. The lives of tens of
thousands of boys and girls can be saved every day, because the causes of their death are
readily preventable. Child and infant mortality is unacceptably high in many parts of the
world, but can be lowered dramatically with means that are already known and easily
- Further attention, care and support should be accorded to
disabled children, as well as to other children in very difficult circumstances.
- Strengthening the role of women in general and ensuring their
equal rights will be to the advantage of the world's children. Girls must be given equal
treatment and opportunities from the very beginning.
- At present, over 100 million children are without basic
schooling, and two-thirds of them are girls. The provision of basic education and literacy
for all are among the most important contributions that can be made to the development of
the world's children.
- Half a million mothers die each year from causes related to
childbirth. Safe motherhood must be promoted in all possible ways. Emphasis must be placed
on responsible planning of family size and on child spacing. The family, as a fundamental
group and natural environment for the growth and well-being of children, should be given
all necessary protection and assistance.
- All children must be given the chance to find their identity
and realize their worth in a safe and supportive environment, through families and other
care-givers committed to their welfare. They must be prepared for responsible life in a
free society. They should, from their early years, be encouraged to participate in the
cultural life of their societies.
- Economic conditions will continue to influence greatly the
fate of children, especially in developing nations. For the sake of the future of all
children, it is urgently necessary to ensure or reactivate sustained and sustainable
economic growth and development in all countries and also to continue to give urgent
attention to an early, broad and durable solution to the external debt problems facing
developing debtor countries.
- These tasks require a continued and concerted effort by all
nations, through national action and international co- operation.
- The well-being of children requires political action at the
highest level. We are determined to take that action.
- We ourselves hereby make a solemn commitment to give high
priority to the rights of children, to their survival and to their protection and
development. This will also ensure the well-being of all societies.
- We have agreed that we will act together, in international
co-operation, as well as in our respective countries. We now commit ourselves to the
following 10-point programme to protect the rights of children and to improve their lives:
- We will work to promote earliest possible
ratification and implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Programmes
to encourage information about children's rights should be launched world-wide, taking
into account the distinct cultural and social values in different countries.
- We will work for a solid effort of national
and international action to enhance children's health, to promote pre-natal care and to
lower infant and child mortality in all countries and among all peoples. We will promote
the provision of clean water in all communities for all their children, as well as
universal access to sanitation.
- We will work for optimal growth and
development in childhood, through measures to eradicate hunger, malnutrition and famine,
and thus to relieve millions of children of tragic sufferings in a world that has the
means to feed all its citizens.
- We will work to strengthen the role and
status of women. We will promote responsible planning of family size, child spacing,
breastfeeding and safe motherhood.
- We will work for respect for the role of
the family in providing for children and will support the efforts of parents, other
care-givers and communities to nurture and care for children, from the earliest stages of
childhood through adolescence. We also recognize the special needs of children who are
separated from their families.
- We will work for programmes that reduce
illiteracy and provide educational opportunities for all children, irrespective of their
background and gender; that prepare children for productive employment and lifelong
learning opportunities, i.e. through vocational training; and that enable children to grow
to adulthood within a supportive and nurturing cultural and social context.
- We will work to ameliorate the plight of
millions of children who live under especially difficult circumstances - as victims of
apartheid and foreign occupation; orphans and street children and children of migrant
workers; the displaced children and victims of natural and man-made disasters; the
disabled and the abused, the socially disadvantaged and the exploited. Refugee children
must be helped to find new roots in life. We will work for special protection of the
working child and for the abolition of illegal child labour. We will do our best to ensure
that children are not drawn into becoming victims of the scourge of illicit drugs.
- We will work carefully to protect children
from the scourge of war and to take measures to prevent further armed conflicts, in order
to give children everywhere a peaceful and secure future. We will promote the values of
peace, understanding and dialogue in the education of children. The essential needs of
children and families must be protected even in times of war and in violence-ridden areas.
We ask that periods of tranquillity and special relief corridors be observed for the
benefit of children, where war and violence are still taking place.
- We will work for common measures for the
protection of the environment, at all levels, so that all children can enjoy a safer and
- We will work for a global attack on
poverty, which would have immediate benefits for children's welfare. The vulnerability and
special needs of the children of the developing countries, and in particular the least
developed ones, deserve priority. But growth and development need promotion in all States,
through national action and international co-operation. That calls for transfers of
appropriate additional resources to developing countries as well as improved terms of
trade, further trade liberalization and measures for debt relief. It also implies
structural adjustments that promote world economic growth, particularly in developing
countries, while ensuring the well-being of the most vulnerable sectors of the
populations, in particular the children.
The Next Steps
- The World Summit for Children has presented us with a
challenge to take action. We have agreed to take up that challenge.
- Among the partnerships we seek, we turn especially to children
themselves. We appeal to them to participate in this effort.
- We also seek the support of the United Nations system, as well
as other international and regional organizations, in the universal effort to promote the
well-being of children. We ask for greater involvement on the part of non- governmental
organizations, in complementing national efforts and joint international action in this
- We have decided to adopt and implement a Plan of Action, as a
framework for more specific national and international undertakings. We appeal to all our
colleagues to endorse that Plan. We are prepared to make available the resources to meet
these commitments, as part of the priorities of our national plans.
- We do this not only for the present generation, but for all
generations to come. There can be no task nobler than giving every child a better future.
New York, 30 September 1990