The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child: The Good, the Bad, and the Useless

  • Midori Matthew University of Waterloo


The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children (UNCRC), put forth in 1989, has generated a global movement in the direction of protecting and promoting children’s rights, resulting in a paradigm change in how children are perceived under the law. While the UNCRC is the most widely ratified international human rights treaty in human history, children’s fundamental right to protection continues to be violated through actions instigated by adults, such as neglect, physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, or being coerced into marriage, wartime activities, or slavery. This is largely a result of international law having no empirical legal binding; since countries are sovereign upon themselves, without domestic enforcement by each individual signatory country, there is no obligation to abide by the terms of international treaties. Applying both a philosophical and legal framework, this paper seeks to provide a critical analysis of whether or not treaties of international law, such as the Convention on the Rights of Children (UNCRC), have an unyielded potential to spark a tangible, beneficial change in the promotion of children’s rights, or if such doctrines are nothing more than glorified pieces of lip service paid to bolster the signatory country’s face value on a global level.