Declaration of universal rights of children



Our criticism of the shortcomings and the limitations of the current “Convention on the rights of the Child”, particularly in addressing the plights of children in the religious and poverty stricken societies have compelled us to produce, as an alternative, our own declaration. Our declaration aims at all children worldwide and treats them equally regardless of their gender, family social class, religion, nationality and ethnicity, colour and ability and protects them.


Children First invites all concerned individuals and defenders of children’s rights, in particular practitioners in the field of children’s rights, to send us their comments and views on this document. This declaration was adopted in our third conference.


Soraya Shahabi

On behalf of the Children First


6 January 2005



Fundamental rights of children


1.     In the context of this declaration every individuals aged less than 18 years are considered as a child and the subject of this declaration.


2.     Life is the most inherent right of children. Body and mind of children are protected from any kind of violation.


3.     Every child has the right to a happy, secure and creative life. The welfare and happiness of every child, regardless of the child’s family status, rests with the society. Children should enjoy the highest possible level of welfare and means of material and mental development.


4.     Every child has the right to enjoy the highest level of welfare and livelihood for a normal life compatible with the highest prevailing standard in the society.


5.     Every child has the right to a suitable accommodation based on the highest prevailing standard in the society.


6.     Every child has the right to welfare, play and recreation.


7.     Every child has the right to enjoy good health and access to all the medical facilities and services and to be immune from illness and health hazards. Equal rights for all children to all the society’s medical and health provisions.


8.     The right to education and access to educational facilities to develop his/her potentials.


9.     The right to a safe and healthy environment.


10. The right to socialise and have a social life. Prohibition of segregation of children in their social environment and the prevention of children from association with other children.


11. Prohibition of abuse of children at home, school and in the community at large.


12. Strict prohibition of physical punishment, mental violation and abuse of children.


13. Prohibition of physical abuse of children under the pretext of religion, culture and tradition (circumcision, body piercing…)


14. Strict prohibition of medical tests and surgical operations on children except for prevention of diseases and direct health improvement.


15. Prohibition of detention and imprisonment of children.


16. Prohibition of capital punishment in general and in particular for children.


17. prohibition of torture and obtaining confession from children.


18. Prohibition of professional employment of children under the age of 16.


19. Strict prohibition of forcing children to work, bondage work and enslaving children under any pretext and excuse.


20.  Decisive legal action against sexual abuse of children. Sexual abuse of children is deemed a grave crime.


21. Legal prosecution of those who in any way and under any pretext prevent children, both girls and boys, from exercising their civil and social rights.


22. Full and equal rights for female and male children.


23. Full and equal rights for all foreign and indigenous children.


24. Prohibition of expulsion of children from the country.


25. Prohibition of geographical relocation of children without direct reference to their independent welfare and rights,

26. Full legal rights for children within biological or non-biological families or living under the care of institutions.


27. Full legal rights for all children born in or outside wedlock.


28. The right of every child to seek information and truth concerning all aspects of his / her life.


29. The rights of children to express their thoughts and opinion and the right to express doubts and criticise all aspects of social life.


30. Prohibition of inquisition of children.


31. Universal suffragette for every individual aged 16 years and over regardless of their gender, religious inclination, ethnic, nationality, residency and political affiliation. The right of every individual aged 16 and over to nominate him/her to any representative organ or for any posts and position.


32. The unconditional rights of every individuals aged 16 years and over to choose her/his place of residence and to travel.


33. Prohibition of any kinds of restriction on free movement, inside the country, of individuals aged 16 and over, by the state or its security authorities. Abolition of all restrictions on the free travel abroad, unconditional issuing of passports and exit and entry visas for all individuals aged 16 and over.


34. Immunity from interference in private life, communication, conversation for all children.


35. The right of every couple over the age of 16 to live together by their own consent. Any form of coercion of individuals, by any person or authority, to influence the choice of partners, cohabitation (or marriage) or in separation (or divorce) is prohibited.


36. Sexual relationship of adults (persons over the age of consent) with under-age persons, even if it consensual is illegal and the adult party is prosecuted under the law.


37.  Prohibition of discrimination on the basis of one’s sexual preference,



Prohibition of discrimination between children on the basis of their gender


Discriminatory attitudes and behaviours towards female and male children, even at foetus stage, is the hallmark of the all present societies. In the religious stricken and backward societies, discrimination against girls are inherent in the official laws and legislations and the common norms and cultures. Therefore to achieve equality between girls and boys in all aspects of life  it requires a vigorous and ceaseless struggle against discrimination and inequalities between female and male children.


  1. Prosecution and imposition of heavy punishment for those restricting the freedom of girls, inflicting harassment and violation against girls as well as  the perpetrators of violence and degradation within the family.


  1. Direct and concerted intervention by state departments to combat anti-women and patriarchal attitudes and cultures. Support and promotion of non-governmental organisations engaged in advocating equality between women and men.


  1. Promotion and support for state and non-governmental institutions to advocate children’ rights.


  1. Prohibition of usage of titles such as “miss” and “sister” which defines female children in relation to their male siblings, by the state authorities as well as private corporations.


  1. Removal of any direct or indirect discriminatory references to women and girls from educational books and resources. Inclusion of educational subjects within the curriculum to educate students on the causes of women’s suffering and promotes equality between women and men.


  1. Establishment of special state sponsored agencies to investigate cases of harassment and discriminations against female children.


  1. Prohibition of interference by any official authority, relatives and next of kin in interfering in private affairs, in personal, emotional and sexual relationships of girls aged 16 and over.


  1. Prohibition of imposition of domestic work or specific house keeping tasks on girls



Safeguard against religion


Belief in a religion is a private matter for adults. Children do not have religion and superstitious ideas. Removing religion from educational establishments and places of development of children is the pre-condition for providing a safe and open environment for their free development. Therefore the society and its institutions are duty bound to safeguard children against religion. To this end the following rights must, unconditionally and without exception, be implemented for all children.

  1. Complete separation of state from education.


  1. Prohibition of religious schools for children.


  1. Prohibition of teaching religious subjects or religiously deduced subjects in schools and educational establishments.


  1. Inclusion of sex education within the school curriculum.


  1. Abolition of all legislations and regulations that contravene the principle of non-religious education.


  1. Prohibition of wearing religious symbols at schools.


  1. Establishment of mixed, both sexes, schools at all levels of education.


  1. Prohibition of physical and mental interference of religions and religious establishments in the lives of children under the age of 16.


  1. Prohibition of recruiting children under the age of 16 to religious sects, religious ceremonies and establishments.


  1. Prohibition of wearing veil for girls under the age of 16.


  1. Prohibition of genital circumcision for both girls and boys.


  1. Prohibition of discrimination between children based on how they were conceived. Usage of depredating phrases to children born outside the wedlock such as illegitimate, lovechild or whoreson is a direct assault on these children. Denying children born outside the wedlock of any rights, under religious, cultural or any other excuses, is considered as a heavy crime.


  1. Annulment of all laws preventing children, both girls and boys, from enjoying a healthy, happy and creative social life.


  1. Preventing children from participating in educational activities and extra curriculum subjects is prohibited except where there is a medical reason or the direct interest of the child requires it.


  1. Reallocation of the end of week holidays to Saturdays and Sundays to readjust school calendars to the western calendar.


  1. Removal of religious holidays from school and official calendar





Children’s rights in the family


Family unit in the present day societies provides a contradictory environment for the development of children. On one hand it could provide a secure, loving and respectful environment for the development of children and on the other hand the confines of the family can easily provide a rough and suppressive environment for children. Inequality and sightlessness of parents in the society, general violence and deprivation and the inability of the children to defend themes elves has potentially turned family into a place where children could be subjected to systemic mistreatments and abuse. Therefore it is the responsibility of the society to oversee the welfare of the children within the family and provide the necessary means and resources to offer adequate protection to them. Further to the above provisions, the following measures and provisions must be implemented.


  1. Abolition of the privileges of the man as the “head of the family” and the extension of equal rights and responsibilities over the care and development of children, control and management of the family resources and wealth, inheritance, decision over place of residence, domestic work and professional employment, divorce, custody of children and share of the family resources in the event of separation.


  1. Prohibition of imposition of domestic work or specific house keeping tasks to girls in the family,


  1. Prohibition of imposing supervisory duties to boys in the family.


  1. Imposition of heavy sentences to anyone inflicting any kinds of violence, including denial of freedom, degradation, physical and mental violence, against boys or girls within the family.


  1. Abolition of the automatic extension of the male parent’s surname to children. Children’s surname should be decided jointly by both parents. Failing to decide the mother’s surname will be given to the child.


  1. Elimination of reference to parents’ names in the official identification documents e.g. Passport, driving licence.


  1. Provision of state legal, material and moral support for single parents. Active support to combat financial pressures and backward and reactionary attitudes aimed at separated mothers and those who have children outside the wedlock.


  1. Full equal rights and responsibilities for mothers and fathers over the custody and issues concerning the care of children after separation.


  1. Rights of children over the age of13 to decide which parent to live with after the separation.



  1. full and equal rights for children regardless of their gender, physical and mental disability and age in inheritance cases.  Any will, a family or judicial decree that fully or partly deprives children, under the pretext of religion or customs are void and none biding.


  1. Full equal rights for mothers and fathers over the care, nurturing, education and development of their children. Abolition of special privileges of fathers as the head of the family. Transfer of all family responsibilities equally between mothers and fathers.


  1. Provision of adequate financial support, free medical, educational and cultural services with high standards for all children regardless of their family status.


  1. Transfer of the care of all children without families or family support to the state. Provision of modern, high standard institutions for the care and education of these children.


  1. Creation of fully equipped and modern nurseries and day care centres conducive to healthy and creative development of all children regardless of their family status.


  1. Establishment of organs and institutions dedicated to the provision of free local babies and toddlers groups, recreational, educational and care centres.


16 weeks paid leave during pregnancy and delivery. One year paid maternity/paternity leave to be taken by mutual agreement of both parents