The ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) by a majority of the International Labor Organization’s member states technically affirms that children are born with fundamental freedoms and the inherent rights of all human beings. This should mark the 21st century as a century of hope for those children whose fundamental rights are violated across the world. There is, however, widespread concern that in spite of some successes in enlisting broad-based societal commitments to safeguard children’s rights, there exists neither a universal consensus on the meaning and very concept of "children’s rights" nor sufficient reasons for us to be content with the current status of children’s rights worldwide.
The widening of the gap between expectations and achievements in the area of human rights raises a fundamental issue: how comfortably does our commitment to children’s rights fit with our convictions about social justice? Violation of children’s rights multiplies at an alarming rate - pointing to the wholesale failure of policies, programs, interventions, and conventions designed to curb them.
On the positive side, however, the present trends in the debate and advocacy around children’s rights have great potential not only for improving the status of children. Child-centered demands for distributive justice have a much greater potential in terms of the possibility of building an intercultural consensus as compared to similar demands by other social groups.
The 11 articles in this volume of The Annals seek to address some of the dominant themes in the current debate over children’s rights in order to facilitate new paradigms and directions that could be effective in responding to this most important issue. This issue of The Annals deals with the various topics crucial in the discussion of children’s rights around the world.