Children's rights

Children’s rights are laid out in international, regional and national frameworks that establish fundamental rights each child has. We work with states and partners to help ensure that children who have lost parental care or risk losing it are protected, cared for and supported, ensuring that their rights are recognised and respected.

We are committed to ensuring the rights of all children. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children, and international frameworks such as the Sustainable Development Goals are the foundations of our programme and advocacy work.


Universal children's rights

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), adopted in 1989, guarantees universal fundamental rights for all children in the world. It has been signed by 196 countries and is a global framework for children’s rights.


The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is the basis for of all of SOS Children’s Villages work. It made international human rights history when it came into force in 1989, having been ratified by a record 193 countries.

All countries ratified by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) are now subject to review and their progress in ensuring that children’s rights are being met is monitored.

The acceptance of the UNCRC by so many nations was an enormous step forward for children’s rights and welfare worldwide. However, there is still a big job to do to ensure that all children can grow with dignity, security and respect. Some of the same countries that signed the UNCRC still allow the corporal or even capital punishment of children. Elsewhere, children continue to be abused, neglected or forcibly detained.

The UNCRC establishes fundamental rights for everyone under 18 years of age – for all children. It puts the best interest of the child at its centre and includes children’s rights to:

  • Live with a family that cares for them
  • Live in a safe and clean environment
  • Have nutrition and healthcare
  • Be educated
  • Play and rest
  • Choose their own friends
  • Give their opinion and be listened to


The right to quality alternative care

For 70 years, SOS Children’s Villages has worked to help children who have lost parental care, or who are at risk of losing it. The UNCRC recognises that these children have special rights to protection and quality care under articles 20, 21 and 25.

Children who have lost or are at risk of losing parental care are among the most vulnerable people in our communities to violations of their human rights. We promote and are guided by the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care for Children to which SOS Children’s Villages made key contributions. The guidelines were adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2009 and serve as international standards to ensure that children without parental care, or at risk of losing it, are adequately protected and supported.

As an organisation with vast experience in providing quality alternative care for children, we work in partnership with governments, communities and other relevant stakeholders to grow capacities to fulfil the provisions of the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care for Children. This includes supporting efforts to strengthen families so children can stay with their family of origin.


Standing up for children's rights

We stand up for children’s rights through a range of actions geared at ensuring that all children see their rights fulfilled so they can live in dignity and thrive:

  • We advocate for the implementation of children’s rights.
  • We inform and raise awareness about children’s rights and the challenges vulnerable children are facing.
  • We partner with other leading organisations and stakeholders to promote children’s rights to achieve the greatest possible impact for children.
  • We share knowledge and shape discussions about improvement and innovation of alternative care.