What are children’s economic rights? Why are they important?
Poverty can have a severely negative impact on a child’s development. Their health and education can suffer, as can their ability to fulfill their potential and participate in society, both when they are children and as they grow into adulthood. And it’s not only poverty in the developing world that’s a concern - extreme poverty affects individuals in even the richest countries, and social divisions between "haves" and "have nots" can erode communities.
Freedom from poverty is not explicitly recognised as a human right in any international human rights treaty. However, the right to an adequate standard of living (which includes housing and food), to health, education and freedom from discrimination, are core principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural rights (ICESCR).
Specific issues around child poverty include the right to survival and development, right to health, right to education, protection from child labour (including fair pay where a child is working in a healthy environment) and other forms of exploitation created by situations of poverty.
Any action to end child poverty should look at the structures that create poverty. They should also go hand in hand with an action to realise children's rights, including their civil and political rights, so they can say what they think about government policies and budget allocation.
To understand the importance of a rights-based approach in economics, read CRIN's submission to the OHCHR's report on a better investment in children which reviews the impact of decisions about government spending on particular children's rights, and mechanisms to guarantee these.
Relevant articles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) dealing with economic rights:
- Social security (article 26): The child has the right to benefit from social security including social insurance.
- Standard of living (article 27): Every child has the right to a standard of living adequate for his or her physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development. Parents have the primary responsibility to ensure that the child has an adequate standard of living. The State's duty is to ensure that this responsibility can be fulfilled, and is. State responsibility can include material assistance to parents and their children.
- Child labour (article 32): The child has the right to be protected from work that threatens his or her health, education or development. The State shall set minimum ages for employment and regulate working conditions.