World Council of Churches
20-26 November 2019
Doc. No. 04.1 rev
Statement on the 30th anniversary of the
Convention on the Rights of the Child
“Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me; for the least among all of you is the greatest.” Luke 9:48
Every child, for the full and harmonious development of his or her personality, should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding (UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, preamble), and with full respect for and protection of their God-given human dignity and rights – “for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs” (Matthew 19:14).
Children are not however merely passive subjects of protection; they also have voice and agency for their own lives and wellbeing. For example, millions of children around the world are marching peacefully in the streets, demanding that adults change our economic and social systems in order to preserve God’s creation and their future. Children and youth of today have become prophetic voices for the issue that affects them most deeply: the survival of the planet and its people.
Meeting in Bossey, Switzerland, on 20-26 November 2019, the executive committee of the World Council of Churches joins in celebrating the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) as a leading international instrument for the promotion and protection of children’s dignity and rights.
By adopting the CRC on 20 November 1989, world leaders made a promise to all children, to respect, protect and fulfil their rights. The CRC has gone on to achieve almost universal consensus, with only one country having refrained from ratifying it.
Christian principles concerning human dignity and equality have strongly shaped the concept of human rights and the instruments of the United Nations, including the CRC, and churches have been among the leading advocates for the full implementation of these commitments at national and local levels.
The ‘Churches’ Commitments to Children’ have provided the ecumenical movement with a new framework for churches’ own action for the rights and wellbeing of children, for ending violence against children, and for affirming and supporting the role of children in church and society.
On this anniversary occasion, we invite all WCC member churches to take up their role in ensuring the full range of obligations in the CRC and the ‘Churches’ Commitments to Children’ are fulfilled in the lives of children around the world.