UNICEF works for children in more than 190 countries. We believe that every child, no matter who they are or where they live, has the right to grow up safe, happy and healthy.

In 1989, the world's leaders officially recognised the human rights of all children and young people under 18 by signing the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Convention is the basis of all our work. UNICEF is the only organisation working for children recognised by the Convention.

The Convention says that every child has:

  • The right to a childhood (including protection from harm)
  • The right to be educated (including all girls and boys completing primary school)
  • The right to be healthy (including having clean water, nutritious food and medical care)
  • The right to be treated fairly (including changing laws and practices that are unfair on children)
  • The right to be heard (including considering children's views)

It's the most complete statement of children’s rights ever produced and is the most widely-ratified international human rights treaty in history.

All UN member states except for the United States and Somalia have approved the Convention. The UK signed it on 19 April 1990 and ratified it on 16 December 1991. It came into force in the UK on 15 January 1992.