UNCRC Foreword

The Convention on the Rights of the Child ratified by 193 States enshrines the inherent human rights of all children under the age of 18 years, whether they belong to the younger or the older age cohorts of childhood. However, the reports of the State parties submitted to the monitoring committee established by the Convention demonstrate that the rights of the younger children are often overlooked.

In order to draw the State parties' and other duty bearers' attention to the rights of young children the Committee has issued a General Comment 7 in 2005: Implementing Child Rights in Early Childhood, in which the Committee reminds all responsible for young children that young children are entitled to all rights under the Convention.

The General Comment laid the groundwork for developing child rights indicators for young children based on human rights. Strong foundations for the development of competencies and personality are required in early childhood. Numerous studies give evidence that material and social investments in early childhood generate remarkable and highly needed social, economic and other life-quality returns for individuals and society. The Committee gratefully accepted the proposal of an expert group, now the authors of this Manual, to elaborate a set of indicators inspired by the General Comment, which will help to shed more light on the state of child-rights implementation in young childhood.

With high appreciation the Committee sees the product of two years of intense work by members of the expert group who all are under the pressure of other responsibilities, but were willing to provide professional expertise and experience for this endeavour. This Manual for Early Childhood Rights Indicators enhances our understanding of the rights of young children with respect to their special needs and vulnerabilities.

It presents a set of 15 child-right indicators for early childhood that help to assess whether young children's rights are being upheld. It promotes better data collection, more careful analysis of data and consequently more complete reporting and monitoring of young children's rights. The Manual gives comprehensive advice on which questions to ask, which ways and where to find the information and which duty bearers to involve. Data disaggregation will help to better understand the problems of care, development and education in young childhood, identify target groups of young children with particular needs and develop policies and programmes that effectively contribute to overcome poverty, poor health, illiteracy and dependency on social welfare.

Most importantly, it will assist State parties to fulfil their obligation towards the youngest members and rights holders of their societies. The Committee owes particular thanks to the members of the GC 7 expert group from UNICEF, WHO, the Bernard van Leer Foundation, the Aga Khan Foundation, the Human Early Learning Partnership, the Consultative Group on Early Childhood Care and Development, the International Children's Center, the World Bank and the SOS-Kinderdõrfer for their dedicated work.

Yanghee Lee

Chairperson of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child

April 12, 2011