UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

What does the Children’s Convention say?

The United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child is normally referred to as the Children’s Convention. It says that rights shall apply to all children in all countries and that it is the government of each country which shall protect the child and take responsibility for their rights being granted.

Sweden has promised all the other convention states (the countries which have also endorsed the Convention) that it will follow the terms of the Children’s Convention and that Swedish legislation will comply with the rules of the Children’s Convention; this is known as ratification of the Convention. The convention states (those countries which have the Convention) must all report to The Committee on the Rights of the Child in Geneva, stating how they are following the rules of the Children’s Convention. The Committee on the Rights of the Child can criticize countries which break the rules of the convention.

Article 2 – No discrimination

All children have the same rights and are of the same value. In Sweden, all those under the age of 18 years old are classed as children, so the article applies both to children and young people. It does not matter what colour your skin is, which god you believe in, whether you are rich or poor or whether or not you can walk. Nobody is to be treated any worse than anybody else! Discrimination is what happens when somebody is treated worse than somebody else, even though they should be treated exactly the same. It is the government (the state) which should ensure that no child is subject to discrimination. An example of discrimination is if a child is not allowed to take part in a lesson at school; no child should be subject to discrimination by being excluded. The school shall ensure that all pupils take part in all lessons – even those involving sex education, swimming or practical occupational experience.

Article 3 – What is best for you comes first

Adults making decisions for you shall bear in mind what is best for you and how the decisions affect you. You have the right to the protection and care you need.

Article 3 says that what is best for the child shall come first. Even if it is not always exactly as you had imagined, those making the decision shall have discussed what is best for you and not just decided on that which suited your teachers or parents. This also applies when, for example, politicians make decisions which affect many children.

Article 6 – The right to live, survive and develop

This means that you have the right to live and develop and that Sweden shall do everything it can so that you have a good childhood. You have the right to security, food, the chance to play, go to school and to be loved. Everything you need for your development. It is not just physical development either, you should also have the chance to learn new things and to think for yourself.

You have the right…

  • To take on new challenges and to learn new things.
  • To your feelings. You shall feel, think and believe what you want to.
  • To go to school. School is compulsory and you can also go to upper secondary school if you want to.
  • To do your school work, with support and encouragement. You must also be given the time to do your homework.
  • To not be controlled by your family or relatives.
  • To not be forced to control your brothers and sisters, or your cousin; you have the right to your own interests and your own development.

Article 12 – You have the right to say what you think

You have the right to say what you think and to state your opinion in every matter which involves you. Adults shall listen to you and pay attention to your opinions. When an authority or a court handles or makes a judgement in a matter which concerns you, you shall have the chance to say what you want to say.

Articles 13-14

These are closely connected with article 12 and deal with your right to freedom of expression. This means that you have the right to search for information and new ideas, accept information from others and the right to spread information (article 13). You have the right to think and believe what you will, which means that you have the right to follow whichever religious or other kind of conviction you may have. Your parents or guardians may “guide” you but they can never decide over your thoughts! (Article 15)

Some of the most important articles in the Convention have been described here. Articles 2, 3, 6 and 12 are known as the guiding principles of the Children’s Convention. In addition to these, there are articles about protection from violence (art 19), protection against torture (art 27) and protection against unlawful encroachment, i.e., somebody reading your diary or letters (art 16). In total, the Children’s Convention contains 54 articles, of which 41 concern children’s rights and 13 concern how the countries shall work with the Convention. If you would like to read more about this, please visit www.unicef.org/crc.Please note that there is no panic button for leaving this page quickly.

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