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Implementing children's rights and health
  1. Gerison Lansdown
  1. National Coordinator, Children's Rights Alliance for England, Children's Rights Office, Chancery House, 319 City Road, London EC1V 1LJ, UK
  1. Dr Lansdown email: gerison{at}

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Making a commitment to respect the rights of children has profound implications for the status of children in our society. Nowhere is this more evident than in the field of health care where the decisions and actions of professionals impact on children's lives in profound, intimate, and powerful ways. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which was ratified by the UK Government in 1991 places a clear obligation on health authorities and practitioners to evolve policy and practice in accordance with the human rights of children.1 Many of the principles embodied in the Convention are not new. (Many of the rights embodied in the Convention on the Rights of the Child derive from earlier human rights treaties—for example, the UN International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.) They are already implemented as a matter of good practice by some health bodies. What is new is the recognition that children are subjects of rights, that those rights impose obligations on adults to ensure their implementation, and that it is necessary to address the inter-relation between the rights embodied in the Convention in order to promote respect for children. Its principles and standards provide a holistic framework with which to analyse and develop the care and treatment of children in the health services. Examination of two important principles in the Convention highlights the implications of taking a rights based approach to children.

Article 12

Article 12 of the Convention states that all children capable of expressing a view have the right to do so freely in all matters of concern to them and that their view shall be given due weight in accordance with their age and maturity. It has been identified by the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the international …

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