Universal Children’s Day
The tradition of Universal Children’s Day emerged neither out of any old festival or any modern craze. Rather it was established to protect the rights of children.
Today you can see so many little ones like you working in factories, restaurants, mills and many other places. They work under different work laws called labour laws and get paid for the number of hours they work. They have a hard life and have to earn from a very young age. But not so long ago, the lives of such child workers were more difficult. Just a hundred years ago, there were no laws for child workers and they had to work for many hours in extremely unsafe conditions and for very little money.
But in the last 100 years, many laws have been established for children's rights, such as child labor laws, protecting children from having to work long hours in unsafe conditions; public education, allowing all children to have access to learning; and laws preventing child abuse.
It all started in 1954 when the United Nations General Assembly suggested that all nations should observe a Universal Children's Day as a day of worldwide fraternity and understanding between children and of activity promoting the welfare of the world's children. Besides this, it recommended, that the day was also to be observed as a day of activity devoted to promoting the ideals and objectives of the Charter and the welfare of the children of the world.
This soon transformed into reality and many countries began to celebrate Children's Day. Before 1959, Children’s Day was universally celebrated in the month of October. Basically this day was founded with the exclusive objective of promoting communal exchange and understanding among children, as well as to bring about beneficiary action to promote the welfare of children, all over the globe.
On November 20, 1959, the United Nations adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child spelling out specific rights to which all children should be entitled. And from this time, Children's Day began to be celebrated on 20th November of every year.
In 1989, on the same date, the UN adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child, creating a legal agreement on rights for children. The Convention on the Rights of the Child was approved faster and by more member nations than any other treaty on international human rights. To this date, 192 countries have agreed to abide by this Convention (only 2 have refused - the United States and Somalia). The Convention mentions in detail the rights of all children (under 18), ranging from protection from abuse and exploitation, to the rights to education and health services, and the right to participate in decisions that affect their lives.
There is still much to do for protecting children's rights around the world. In 2000, world leaders agreed to reach specific targets to the Millennium Development Goals. The Millennium Development Goals are eight goals, (six of which directly relate to the rights of children) that 192 United Nations member states have agreed to try to achieve by the year 2015. The goals range from providing universal primary education, to stopping the spread of HIV and eliminating poverty. 6 of these goals relate directly to children.
Today, Universal Children's Day continues to be celebrated on November 20. The date commemorates the day on which the Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, in 1959, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in 1989. It is an occassion to show children that they are valuable members of society, and remind everyone that children need love and respect to grow to their full potential. It is also the opportunity to increase awareness about the Convention on the Rights of the Child and to remind governments to fulfill their promises to meet the Millennium Development Goals.