Introduction to Child Rights

© UNICEF/NYHQ2007-2637/Ron Haviv
Children attend class at a damaged school in Batticaloa District, Eastern Province, Sri Lanka. The school was evacuated when government and LTTE forces exchanged fire in the area, and classes have only recently resumed. UNICEF is providing educational supplies and is supporting the construction of a temporary classroom.

This session is part of working towards child rights based approaches in ARC but provides a good introduction to child rights and the relationship with responsibilities. The exercise originally looked at human rights but has been adapted here to focus on child rights.


To consider what the fundamental rights and entitlements of every child in any society are - not only in a conflict situation.

Participants MRM Staff
Session 1. Participatory exercise on rights and responsibilities in a new society
2. Short debriefing
Time required 60 minutes for the basic module;

Plus additional time if want to look into more detail at UN CRC and national legislation
Venue requirements Large space - can be the main training room, if it is possible to move tables to create a large space in the middle
Equipment - Flipchart paper
- Coloured paper or card - third size A4 sheets (at least two different colours)
Resource person(s) 1 person with knowledge of the topic and with practical experience working in a field presence AND the person must be able to be assertive and take on the presence of Commander of the Space Ship
Training materials - Copies of the handout - The Scenario for exercise on child rights [PDF]
- PPT slide - "Clustering Map" [PPT]
- UN Convention of the Rights of the Child [PDF]
Documents for participants - UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN CRC) [PDF]
Access to materials Training Materials can be found in Folder Module 2: Child Rights

This is an awareness raising exercise, and can be used at the beginning of the workshop to establish basic rights for all children and not only in conflict situations. It provides for a good warm up and also an introduction to or reminder of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN CRC).

Pre-session Preparations

Ensure you have cards (about 1/3 A4 size) and marker pens for each group. Place these in position for group use or handout when exercise starts.


  1. Participatory exercise on child rights - part one (15 minutes)
    1. Provide participants with the handout - "The scenario for introduction to child rights".
    2. Instruct them that you are the commander of the space ship that is currently transporting them to Planet Egalia and today we do not have much time and you expect them to work fast - very fast.
    3. Divide the participants into four groups.
    4. Instruct groups 1 & 2 that they have 15 minutes to agree within their own groups on the 10 child rights that they wish for Planet Egalia.
    5. Instruct groups 3 & 4 that they have 15 minutes to agree within their own groups on the 10 duties or responsibilities that they wish adults to have for children on Planet Egalia.
  2. Participatory exercise on child rights - part two (5 minutes)
    1. Groups one and two should be joined together, and told that they have to now combine their lists and agree on 10 child rights. And they should choose a captain.
      At the same time
    2. Groups three and four should be joined together, and told that they have to now combine their lists and agree on 10 duties or responsibilities for children. These duties should be put onto cards. And they should choose a captain.
  3. Participatory exercise on child rights - part three (10 minutes)
    1. Return to plenary as one group
    2. Put up the child rights flip chart sheet so all the groups can see.
    3. Facilitate the two captains to discuss if the responsibilities match up with the rights of children.
    4. Tell the captains to highlight differences and agree on child rights for Planet Egalia.
    5. Inform the remainder of the participants that they can provide advice to the captains but that the captains can take the final decisions for their groups.
  4. Plenary discussion on child rights to follow-on from the exercise (20 minutes)
    • Would these rights and entitlements apply to all children on the planet?
    • Would there be occasions when rights would need to be suspended? Who would decide this?
    • Are there any rights that they would be prepared to sacrifice? Which, and under what circumstances?
    • Which rights could be suspended in case of conflict? It is interesting to ask this question and after some discussion emphasise that UN CRC is non-derogable at any time - even during conflict.
    • What might go wrong? How would they deal with someone who broke the rules?
    • Can they identify any groupings of rights? Share the PowerPoint slide - Clustering Map.
    • Highlight when the country in which you are working ratified the UN CRC.
  5. Plenary discussion on UN CRC and national law (additional time as required)
    • Look at the UN CRC
    • Match rights listed in the exercise with rights listed in UN CRC. What rights are missing and why did these get left out?

    If there is time, divide the participants into small groups and ask them to discuss the following questions.

    • Some child rights are more important or fundamental than others e.g. first, secure food and shelter, then freedom of expression, do you agree?
    • Child rights are not the same everywhere, they depend on cultural traditions, do you agree?

    In plenary, ask the participants to share the results of their discussions.

    Ask participants if they are aware of national legislation on child rights - share information on appropriate legislation. Mention that in terms of their work many for people in the community references to the national legislation will have more relevance (Note this is covered in Module 4B: Definitions and Legal Foundation).

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