The 1884, the London Society for the

The UNCRC is the culmination of decades of
advocacy for rights for children worldwide.  The UNCRC has particular
resonance in the UK as it was through the pioneering work of Eglantyne Jebb, founder of the International Save
the Children Union in the 1920’s that a vision for nations to be responsible
for ensuring that all children enjoyed their rights to health, education and
protection was realised.  Jebb drafted the Declaration of
the Rights of the Child in 1923 which consisted of five statements (see
Appendix 1), that governments and countries worldwide must uphold the
satisfying of children’s spiritual and physical needs whether hungry, sick,
disabled, delinquent, orphaned or homeless; that children must always be first
to receive aid during times of conflict and catastrophe; that children must be enabled
to secure a livelihood and be protected from exploitation; that children must
be cognizant of that their duty to be a productive member of society (Jebb,
1923).  This declaration was adopted by
the League of Nations as the Declaration of Geneva, in 1924 and further
extended by the UN in 1959 to ten principles covering rights, entitlements and
protection, and became known as the Declaration of Children’s Rights. In 1989,
the UNCRC, consisting now of fifty-four articles defining the universal rights of
children, was formally adopted and ratified by one hundred and ninety-seven
countries.  Only two countries declined; the United States (US) and
Somalia. However, Somalia ratified the Convention in 2015, leaving the US as
the only country still to legally adopt the UNCRC.


In the UK, Jebb was not the first ambassador for
children’s rights; in 1884, the London Society for the Prevention of Children (LSCC)
was founded which later become known as the National Society for the Prevention
of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) and is now known as the Royal Society for the
Prevention of Cruelty to Children (RSPCC) and still advocates for children’s
rights today.  In 1889, after five years of
lobbying by the NSPCC, parliament enacted the Children’s Charter, enabling the
use of enforceable law to protect children against all forms of cruelty and
exploitation.  Prior to this, vulnerable
children such as orphans or homeless were within the purview of the Poor Law of
1601 which was responsible for many children becoming apprentices.  By the time of the industrial revolution in
the 19th century, the London Poor Law authorities were responsible
for the mass export of such children to work in factories where, unprotected by
state or law, many died due to long working hours, dangerous machinery and
physical abuse.  However, the Factories
Act in 1802 determined to improve working conditions and shorten working hours but
it was not until 1870 that the right to education was considered by way of
making school attendance compulsory for children aged 5 to 12 years.

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