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The Convention and its importance for GIFA

The Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1989. The Rights of the Child are of interest to GIFA in a number of areas, including

  • promoting children’s health
  • protecting breastfeeding and women who wish to breastfeed
  • compliance with and monitoring of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes.

The Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) emphasises the right of the child to enjoy the highest attainable standard of health (article 24 of the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child).

CRC – Article 24

1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and to facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health. States Parties shall strive to ensure that no child is deprived of his or her right of access to such health care services.

2. States Parties shall pursue full implementation of this right and, in particular, shall take appropriate measures:

2(e) To ensure that all segments of society, in particular parents and children, are informed, have access to education and are supported in the use of basic knowledge of child health and nutrition, the advantages of breastfeeding, hygiene and environmental sanitation and the prevention of accidents; […]

CRC – General comments

The Convention encourages breastfeeding and supports the implementation of the International Code, notably through two General Comments issued in 2013.

CRC – General comment No.15

General comment No 15 (2013, paragraphes 44 et 81) :

44. Exclusive breastfeeding for infants up to 6 months of age should be protected and promoted and breastfeeding should continue alongside appropriate complementary foods preferably until two years of age, where feasible. States’ obligations in this area are defined in the “protect, promote and support” framework, adopted unanimously by the World Health Assembly.14 States are required to introduce into domestic law, implement and enforce internationally agreed standards concerning children’s right to health, including the International Code on Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and the relevant subsequent World Health Assembly resolutions, as well as the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Special measures should be taken to promote community and workplace support for mothers in relation to pregnancy and breastfeeding and feasible and affordable childcare services; and compliance with the International Labour Organization Convention No. 183 (2000) concerning the revision of the Maternity Protection Convention (Revised), 1952. END OF QUOTE

81. Among other responsibilities and in all contexts, private companies should: refrain from engaging children in hazardous labour while ensuring they comply with the minimum age for child labour; comply with the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and the relevant subsequent World Health Assembly resolutions; limit advertisement of energy-dense, micronutrient-poor foods, and drinks containing high levels of caffeine or other substances potentially harmful to children; and refrain from the advertisement, marketing and sale to children of tobacco, alcohol and other toxic substances or the use of child images.

CRC – General comment No.16

General comment No 16 (2013, paragraph 54): In conformity with article 18, paragraph 3, of the Convention, States should create employment conditions within business enterprises which assist working parents and caregivers in fulfilling their responsibilities to children in their care such as: the introduction of family-friendly workplace policies, including parental leave; support and facilitate breastfeeding; access to quality childcare services; payment of wages sufficient for an adequate standard of living; protection from discrimination and violence in the workplace; and, security and safety in the workplace.

Impact of the Rights of the Child

The Convention emphasises children’s health and well-being, their right to personal development and their right to expression. It attaches importance to the family, breastfeeding and parental leave. As a monitoring mechanism, the countries that have signed the Convention are audited regularly, i.e. every 5 years or so. Periodic reports are submitted by the country and the Committee on the Rights of the Child comments and makes recommendations.

Situation in Switzerland

Switzerland ratified the Convention in 1997. See our page Children’s rights in Switzerland to find out more about the issues at stake in Switzerland.