CHILD RIGHTS ACT 2003
The Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child was an international document promoting child rights adopted by the United Nations in 1959. The Declaration was followed by the Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) adopted by the UN General Assembly on 2 September 1990. The human rights treaty set out the civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of children. The Convention defined a child as any human being under the age of eighteen, unless the age of majority is attained earlier under a state's own domestic legislation. Governments of countries that have ratified the Convention are required to report to, and appear before, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child periodically to be examined on their progress with regards to the advancement of the implementation of the Convention and the status of child rights in their country. Currently, 196 countries are party to the Convention, including every member of the United Nations except the United States.
Nigeria signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991, and with support from the UNICEF, took steps to domesticate the UNCRC into a national law, the Child Rights Act 2003. The Act consolidated all laws (including national and international laws) relating to children into a single piece of legislation that specified the rights and responsibilities of children, as well as the duties and obligations of government, parents and other authorities, organizations and bodies towards children. The Act defines a child as one who has not attained the age of 18 years, and the best interests of such a child shall remain paramount in all considerations. The Act also provides that a child shall be given such protection and care as is necessary for his or her wellbeing and retain the right to survival and development and to a name and nationality at birth. Nigeria's states are expected to adopt and adapt the Act for domestication as state laws because issues of child rights protection are on the residual list of the Nigerian Constitution, giving states exclusive responsibility and jurisdiction to make laws relevant to their specific situations. State laws inimical to the rights of the child are to be amended or annulled as may be required to conform to the Act and the UNCRC
In Nigeria, only 25 states have passed the Child Rights Act into Child Rights Laws in their states. This means that millions of children in the other 11 states in Nigeria still do not have the appropriate legal framework for the protection of their rights. Likewise, millions of children in the states that have passed the law are not properly cared for because the laws have not been fully implemented. To follow progress on the adoption of the Child Rights Act in Nigeria, visit the Child Rights Act Tracker by Partners West Africa CHILD RIGHTS ACT TRACKER - Partners West Africa Nigeria (partnersnigeria.org)