Lesson Series 21: Children’s Rights: The General Principle of Non-Discrimination

The Convention on the Rights of the Child was unanimously adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1989. This document marked a milestone in human rights terms, because it is the first legally binding code of child rights in history, and acknowledges that children are holders of rights, rather than passive recipients of benefits.

The most important principles in this document are the principles of Non-discrimination (Article 2) and Best interests of the child (Article 3). These principles, and others, are ignored in many countries. Children born out of wedlock are being discriminated against in different parts of Asia, such as Malaysia, where a child born out of wedlock is not entitled to any of his/her father’s property if the father dies intestate. Children on the borders of Cambodia, Burma and Thailand are being denied their right to a nationality, rendering them stateless and unable to access their basic needs.

The Lessons

Lesson 1: The right not to be discriminated against on the basis of status

Lesson 2: The right to a nationality

Lesson 3: Further violations of children’s rights

Appendix 1. Relevant articles of UN documents