How Are Children Legally Protected

 Tep Punloeu

By Tep Punloeu, Associate Dean for College of Law

Many states recognized a need to protect children, which resulted in the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child in 1989. This convention is a “legally binding instrument” that outlines the rights of people under 18. Children need special protection and have particular needs and vulnerabilities, so the Convention aims to protect children from neglect, exploitation and abuse. Specifically, the Convention is a universally agreed set of standards and obligations which recognizes the different legal systems and cultural traditions around the world. The standards focus on respect for the dignity and worth of each individual child, regardless of race, color, gender, language, religion, wealth, birth or ability.

The above-mentioned convention has been widely ratified and established four core principles for the states: “non-discrimination; devotion to the best interests of the child; the right to life, survival and development; and respect for the views of the child.” However, children still suffer from poverty, homelessness, abuse, neglect, preventable disease, inequitable access to education, and justice systems that do not recognize their special needs. These are problems that occur to some extent in all countries.

To meet the commitments of this convention, the Kingdom of Cambodia has clearly expressed the principles in Cambodia’s Constitution and adopted various laws and regulations to benefit Cambodian children. In fact, this is not only a commitment from the government. People at all levels and all institutions should try to uphold children’s rights, including families, schools, and other groups that provide services for children in our country.

In this regard, we have seen a lot of international organizations, NGOs, and civil society groups that have been actively involved in a variety of work dedicated to children’s rights. For example, we had a three-day training course delivered by professional educators from the UK’s Children Exploitation and Online Protection Center (CEOP). This event was conducted in Phnom Penh, from October 20-22, 2010.

The University of Cambodia offers various courses related to human rights, such as Intentional Human Rights, Sociology of Human Rights, and Human Rights and Global Justice. In addition, it also offers several courses focused on this in relation to law, such as Introduction to Law, Constitutional Law, Labor Law, and International Law.