Terre des hommes (Iraq)

01.11.2019 - News

30 years of child rights: A report of mixed fortunes

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Compared to 1989, the infant mortality rate has been reduced by 50%. But each year, more than 5 million still die from preventable causes. Terre des hommes reports on the state of child rights worldwide with five other international organisations.

For nearly 60 years, Terre des hommes teams have been defending the rights of millions of children and their families throughout the world. Thirty years ago, on November 20, 1989, the United Nations supported our work with an important tool: the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which has since been ratified by 196 countries. On the 30th anniversary of this Convention, Tdh joined forces with five other international organisations to publish a report on the situation of children’s rights throughout the world.

Impressive progress

An increasing number of children are living in better conditions today than 30 years ago. The infant mortality rate has been halved, which represents 17,000 lives saved each day. The number of children who cannot attend school has fallen from 120 to 64 million. These are successes to which Tdh has contributed:

Infant mortality is declining, particularly thanks to new approaches that we have helped to develop. We are using artificial intelligence and new technologies in the medical field to save lives. We gain the support of governments and communities to defend children’s rights over the long term. All this encourages us and motivates us,” explains Claudio Rini, head of Tdh field operations.

The challenges remain enormous

Despite these wonderful success stories, the rights of millions of children and young people are still being violated. Each year, more than 5 million children die from preventable causes. 815 million people are affected by hunger and severe malnutrition hinders the physical and mental development of 150 million infants. Countless children and young people, in both rich and poorer countries, face poverty and exploitation.

The “Child rights now!” report underlines the road ahead to better protect the most vulnerable from violence, particularly in conflict areas. The observation is striking: humanitarian crises increase violations of the Convention.

Harassment, exploitation or trafficking currently are one of our major concerns. Difficulties in accessing healthcare, forced migration and parental poverty strengthen phenomena such as early marriage and exploitation. Child labour in countries affected by armed conflicts is 77% higher than elsewhere.

Governments, take responsibility!

Thirty years after its adoption, the Convention has lost none of its urgency or relevance. It is time for the world community to keep its promises. Today, we call upon governments to:

  • implement effective legislation, policies, budgets and programmes that include all children
  • promote the rights of all marginalised children and advocate for gender equality
  • support children’s participation and defend their rights to freedom of speech and opinion. Give children a real voice, listen to them and take their views into account


So that every child in the world can access their fundamental rights.


The report “Child rights now! 30 years of child rights, and the unfinished agenda” was published by an alliance of the six main international organisations working for children: Terre des hommes, ChildFund International, Plan International, Save the Children, SOS Children’s Village and World Vision.



Photo credit: ©Tdh/Sebastian Delgado