© UNICEF/UKLA2013-04413/Brooks

Twenty-five years ago, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Since then, millions of children have benefited from progress. When governments, their international partners, businesses and communities have matched their obligations under the Convention with money and energy, they have saved and improved the lives of hundreds of millions of children. While the magnitude of progress has been profound in key areas – child survival, education, access to clean water – too many children still confront the future with their needs unaddressed, their rights unrealized and their potential thwarted.

The world’s low-income countries remain home to concentrations of poverty and disadvantage, but many impoverished children live in middle-income countries – countries plagued with large income inequalities. Here, as elsewhere, deprivation is disproportionately concentrated in urban slums and remote rural areas and among such marginalized groups as ethnic minorities and people with disabilities.

Even the safety of a child’s arrival in this world remains subject to the lottery of where she was born and whether her family is well off – and the inequity extends throughout childhood and beyond.


Too many children remain excluded from the progress of the past 25 years.  The cost of these inequities is paid most immediately – and most tragically – by children themselves. But the long-term impact affects generations to come, undermining the strength of their societies. So addressing these inequities and reducing disparities is not only the right thing to do – honoring the spirit of the Convention on the Rights of the Child – it is also the strategic thing to do, yielding practical gains.

As the global community begins to shape – and act on – the post-2015 agenda, dismantling the financial, political, institutional and cultural barriers that stand between children and their rights must be a central priority.