All of BICE’s history is closely linked to the children’s rights history. In the 1980’s, our association was indeed a major contributor to the elaboration of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was unanimously adopted on November 20th, 1989.
The Convention opened a new way to look at children, who aren’t only considered as objects of rights anymore. The child, treated as a whole person, has become a real subject of rights. His very existence grants him inalienable human rights and fundamental freedoms, without discrimination or distinction. This universal principle applies to children and to any human being as well.
Thus, BICE considers children’s rights as a full part of human rights. This approach, starting with the child as a subject of rights:
- Deeply renews our way to care for children’s needs of protection, food, health, education just as their needs to be heard and fully acknowledged including in their spiritual quests… These needs tally with specific rights they are granted. The concept of assistance that still often prevails must therefore be replaced by an approach of children as subjects of rights, because children do hold full human rights.
- This approach also implies a genuine and still largely non-existent education on human rights and democratic citizenship. Children must know their rights and others’ and thus discover how living together must be based on mutual respect, a sense of responsibility, solidarity and of rules of life in society.
By teaching children about their belonging to society as citizens and subjects of rights, we open a path of humanization for them.
The action of BICE leans on the Convention’s principles:
- the best interests of the child(art.3);
- non-discrimination (art.2); all children, girls and boys, regardless of race, colour, religion, culture or opinion are concerned because the Convention applies to every one of them everywhere.
- the inherent right to life, to survival and to development for a child (art. 6);
- the freedom of expression (art. 12 and 13), of thought, conscience and religion (art 14) and the right of association (art. 15);
- the indivisibility of civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights recognized to children. Beyond fulfilling his most basic needs, the Convention sets for a complete development of every child, including its spiritual aspects.
- the legally binding dimension of the Convention, which finally sets a standard for staunchly asking the States, when they do not assume their obligations, to take all administrative, legal, economic, social and educational measures to ensure a protective environment for children.
Ten challenges for advocating children’s rights
In 2009, the BICE celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the rights of the child by launching an Appeal to a new mobilization for childhood in Geneva. The truth is, if the Convention allowed real progress, millions of children are still held apart from all of their rights.
BICE has therefore identified 10 challenges to bridge the gap between legally recognized rights and the reality of too many children estranged from their rights. These are the 10 challenges that currently structure all BICE’s advocacy initiatives.