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COVID-19 and the Convention on the Rights of the Child

Learners are presented with a short overview to re-emphasise the importance of the Convention on the Rights of the Child during COVID-19.

COVID-19—and the measures taken by governments to contain, control and mitigate the disease—directly and indirectly impact the full range of children’s social, economic, cultural, civil and political rights as set out in the Convention. The Convention on the Rights of the Child applies to all children under 18 in all contexts, including emergency situations, and governments are obliged to respect, protect and fulfil these rights for all children.

In ratifying the Convention, States are obliged to:

  • Bring their legislation, policy and practice into accord with the standards in the Convention;
  • Transform the standards into reality for all children; and
  • Abstain from actions that may violate or preclude the enjoyment of those rights.

In responding to the COVID-19 crisis, many governments around the world have enacted legislation that limits rights such as freedom of association and peaceful assembly, privacy (through increased surveillance) and individual freedom of movement and education. While governments may legally limit certain rights, it should only be done under the strict conditions of necessity, proportionality and non-discrimination.

Some governments, however, have enacted limitations without abiding by these conditions. This has a profound impact on the rights, well-being and protection of children. Public health measures to respond to the virus must be motivated by legitimate health goals, be guided by human and child rights standards and principles and must not be used as a basis to target particular groups, minorities or individuals. Equally, public health measures in response to COVID-19 must allow for the continued function of essential protective services for the most vulnerable children and families and be informed by the voices of children.

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Protecting Children during COVID-19 and other Infectious Disease Outbreaks

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