Children

How is children’s health a human rights issue?

Under international human rights law, children are entitled “to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and to facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health.” This right is articulated in Article 24 of the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which is the most widely ratified international human rights instrument and consolidates all previous treaties on the rights of children.

The right to health for children has long been understood as an “inclusive” right, which extends beyond protection from immediately identifiable infringements such as limitations on access to health care or services, and includes the wide range of rights and freedoms that are determinate to children’s health, such the rights to non-discrimination, access to health-related education and information, and freedom from harmful traditional practices. The realization of a child’s right to health also requires access to underlying conditions for health, such as “safe water and adequate sanitation, adequate nutritious food and housing, [and] healthy occupational and environmental conditions.”

(Source: Health and Human Rights Resource Guide, François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center for Health and Human Rights at the Harvard School of Public Health)

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Resources

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Leading the realization of human rights to health and through health (2017)
High-Level Working Group on Health and Human Rights of Women, Children and Adolescents

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Celebrating Childhood: A Journey to End Violence against Children (2016)
United Nations

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Human Rights in Supply Chains. A Call for a Binding Global Standard on Due Diligence (2016)
Human Rights Watch

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Right to health in early childhood- right to survival and development (2015) - Annual report to the UN General Assembly, A/70/213
Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health

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Technical guidance on the application of a human rights-based approach to the implementation of policies and programmes to reduce and eliminate preventable mortality and morbidity of children under 5 years of age (2014)
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

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Releasing children’s potential and minimizing risks: ICTs, the Internet and Violence against Children (2014)
United Nations

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Women’s and Children’s Health: Evidence of Impact of Human Rights (2013)

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General comment No. 15 on the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health (2013)
UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

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Health-related Millennium Development Goals; right to health for indigenous peoples; right to health, child survival and indicators (2004) - Annual report to the UN General Assembly, A/59/422
Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health

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