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What Countries Say / What Countries Do Regarding Children's Rights
Kenneth T. Saroka, East Brunswick (NJ) High School

OVERVIEW: The adoption of the Convention on the Rights of The Child (by every country except Somalia and the United States of America) has forced countries to reconcile their internal policies with the Convention and publish reports about their progress towards meeting the goals. Independent, Non-Governmental Agencies (NGOs) also are asked to verify the country's own accounts with their findings. Do the two reports match up?

CORE QUESTION: Do published accounts of compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child that nations tender match up with the reports of NGOs? What would account for any discrepancy?

TIME REQUIRED: One 40-minute period-- with homework that could extend the discussion into part of day 2.

SUGGESTED GRADE LEVELS: This lesson is useful for high school students in a World History or Global Issues classroom.

INTERDISCIPLINARY CONNECTIONS: Visual arts – when used in conjunction with either or both of the photo essay lessons on this site or with the visualization lessons.

NEW JERSEY CORE CONTENT STANDARDS: 6.1: 10-13; 6.2: 9-11; 6.3: 9,12,14; 6.4: 9-13; 6.5 13-5; 6.6 13-15; 6.7: 11-12; 6.8: 12-17.

OBJECTIVES: Students will be able to describe the extent of the problem as the international community sees it; evaluate the analysis of both the countries and the NGOs to comment whether the differences are substantial or superficial.

STRATEGIES: This lesson requires use of a computer with Internet access and Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you do not have Adobe Acrobat Reader, you can obtain it for free by clicking the link. It is assumed that you have utilized other lessons on this site or on your own that deal with the substance of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. If not, you may wish to spend an additional day on that subject first before undertaking this lesson. Begin your lesson with a discussion or an opening DO NOW question on the matter of trusting the validity of the reports issued by nations, some of which have had terrible human rights abuses within their borders. Then draw their attention to this link which is inside the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights site: Select a session within the last year, then select a country. The reports on the right side of the table are directly from the country. Clicking on E will give you a link to the English language versions in PDF format or as web pages. Look at the table of contents. You can break the class down into topics such as "definition of child", provision rights, protection rights, and participation rights, or along other specific topics that catch your eye. Have the students read and take notes on that issue, then turn to the left side of the column and review the findings and comments of the committee (which asks for NGO assistance) and compare and contrast the findings in written form in a manner of your choosing (notation or formal essay).

REFERENCES: The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights web site has many links that go beyond this assignment. Here are some:

A current index of topics being covered by the UNHCHR.

The treaty database contains many treaties/conventions that do have some overlap...such as the Committee on Social and Cultural Rights might contain participation and provision rights articles that overlap the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Plus there are agencies such as:

Human Rights Watch

International Labour Organization: ILO Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour

The Child Rights Information Network

The United Nations High Commission on Refugees

ASSESSMENT: Extend the lesson with a review of the progress in the past ten years by viewing the document “Tenth Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child Commemorative Meeting: Achievements and Challenges”. The students can then make a critical assessment essay to complement their comparison of the two documents above. You could extend the assignment by having the students check other human rights NGOs to see what those agencies have to say specifically about that country.

To learn more about the influence of Children's Rights on our global society, click on the links below:
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