Act by Right is rooted in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. This is the most important international human rights treaty for the protection, provision and participation of children and young people. A Convention is an agreement between countries to obey the same law. When the government of a country ratifies a Convention that means it agrees to obey the law written down in that Convention. Every country in the world, except two, has ratified this convention.
The Convention gives rights to all those under 18 and many of its provisions have continuing relevance for young people aged 18 to 25. So, the Convention is a crucial framework and route map for all children and young people and organisations working to promote their best interests. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child on 16 December 1991. That means our Government has to make sure that everyone under 18 has all the rights in the Convention.
Act by Right is based on the Convention on the Rights of the Child. But what is its relevance to you in helping you make your voices heard and helping you get what you need done? The Act by Right review activity at the end of each unit helps you to think about aspects of the Convention and their relevance to you as a group and to what you are looking to achieve. By developing your own Act by Right Charter, the group should both increase its understanding of your rights to participate in the issues affecting you and strengthen your arguments to be taken seriously and get things changed.
As you work through this review activity in each of the five units, so your knowledge of the Convention will build. You will see how it works and how you can make it work for you. A simple summary of the Convention is given at the back. You may also want to refer to the full document available from: www.unhchr.ch/html/. It’s a bit harder to read, but gives useful detail. You can get free copies of the summary of the Convention used in Act by Right called Children’s Right and Responsibilities from UNICEF’s Helpdesk, 0870 606 3377. Quote code 32124.
At the end of each unit, look at the right review questions and look at the Articles of the Convention indicated. Discuss these in the group. Then, turning to your Act by Right Charter, write the numbers of the relevant Articles on the left hand side of the Act by Right charter. Copy or put in your own words what these Articles say so they make sense to you and you own them. Finally, look closely at what you have written. What are the implications for your group? Agree three key actions in response in the right hand column.
Here is a quick example. Your group is campaigning for better leisure facilities in your area. By looking at the Convention, you find out that Article 31 gives to all children and young people a right to relax and play and to join in a wide range of activities. This part of your charter might look like the one below.
|Act by Right Charter|
|Article #||The Article says||What we are going to do|
|31||We all have a right to relax, to play and to a wide range of affordable and accessible leisure activities||1. Include Article 31 in our campaign
2. Find out which groups locally and nationally promote Article 31 and how they can help us
3. Write to the relevant local authority department and ask them about their responsibilities under Article 31 and what their plans are to make their play facilities accessible to all disabled and non disabled children and young people
The five areas of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the key relevant articles, as well as the whole Convention, are in the Resources section.