Advocate for children's rights

All children have equal rights to care and protection, and to live a healthy life free from abuse and harm. SOS Children’s Villages defends and promotes these rights for all children on a global, regional, and national level. We work with partners to improve laws, policies and practices so that each child and young person, and their families receive the care and support they need. By advocating to uphold their rights, all children can become their strongest selves.

Children's rights

Children’s rights are laid out in international, regional and national frameworks that establish fundamental rights each child has. We work with states and partners to help ensure that children who have lost parental care or risk losing it are protected, cared for and supported, ensuring that their rights are recognised and respected.

We are committed to ensuring the rights of all children. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children, and international frameworks such as the Sustainable Development Goals are the foundations of our programme and advocacy work.


Universal children's rights

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), adopted in 1989, guarantees universal fundamental rights for all children in the world. It has been signed by 196 countries and is a global framework for children’s rights.

What is the UNCRC?

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is the basis for of all of SOS Children’s Villages work. It made international human rights history when it came into force in 1989, having been ratified by a record 193 countries.


Why is the UNCRC so important?

All countries ratified by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) are now subject to review and their progress in ensuring that children’s rights are being met is monitored.

The acceptance of the UNCRC by so many nations was an enormous step forward for children’s rights and welfare worldwide. However, there is still a big job to do to ensure that all children can grow with dignity, security and respect. Some of the same countries that signed the UNCRC still allow the corporal or even capital punishment of children. Elsewhere, children continue to be abused, neglected or forcibly detained.


What does the UNCRC say?

The UNCRC establishes fundamental rights for everyone under 18 years of age – for all children. It puts the best interest of the child at its centre and includes children’s rights to:

  • Live with a family that cares for them
  • Live in a safe and clean environment
  • Have nutrition and healthcare
  • Be educated
  • Play and rest
  • Choose their own friends
  • Give their opinion and be listened to
The right to quality alternative care

For 70 years, SOS Children’s Villages has worked to help children who have lost parental care, or who are at risk of losing it. The UNCRC recognises that these children have special rights to protection and quality care under articles 20, 21 and 25.

Children who have lost or are at risk of losing parental care are among the most vulnerable people in our communities to violations of their human rights. We promote and are guided by the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care for Children to which SOS Children’s Villages made key contributions. The guidelines were adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2009 and serve as international standards to ensure that children without parental care, or at risk of losing it, are adequately protected and supported.

As an organisation with vast experience in providing quality alternative care for children, we work in partnership with governments, communities and other relevant stakeholders to grow capacities to fulfil the provisions of the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care for Children. This includes supporting efforts to strengthen families so children can stay with their family of origin.


Standing up for children's rights

We stand up for children’s rights through a range of actions geared at ensuring that all children see their rights fulfilled so they can live in dignity and thrive:

  • We advocate for the implementation of children’s rights.
  • We inform and raise awareness about children’s rights and the challenges vulnerable children are facing.
  • We partner with other leading organisations and stakeholders to promote children’s rights to achieve the greatest possible impact for children.
  • We share knowledge and shape discussions about improvement and innovation of alternative care.


Youth participation

Empowering young people to shape their future

Children and young people have the right to be listened to on all matters affecting them so they can actively contribute to shaping their own lives and participate in the development of their communities. We encourage and support young people to have a voice and become active participants in decision-making processes.

The right to speak up

Participation is a fundamental right and one of the guiding principles of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. For children and young people, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) establishes their right to be listened to and taken seriously by adults. When young people are empowered and have an active voice, they can contribute to shaping their own future as well as the future of the communities they live in.

Listen to young people

We are committed to listening to the young people we work with. Young people who have lost parental care or who are at risk of losing it can provide valuable insights into their own needs and experiences. They can make vital contributions to finding solutions to the challenges they face and help drive improvement in quality care for children. We also work to give young people opportunities to express their opinions directly to decision-makers and stakeholders, engaging in global debates and speaking at international events.

  1. UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)
  2. UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care for Children
  3. Youth-friendly version