Regard the Best Interests of the Child as the Priority UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is the international convention with the most universal value, containing the whole variety of human rights. Since the declaration of the convention on November 20, 1989, the developments of the rights of the child in all aspects have continuously received great attention. On November 20, 2014, the Republic of China (Taiwan) established the Implementation Act of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which enabled the convention to become legal in our nation, based on the model of international guarantee regulations on the rights of the child, in order to comprehensively construct the environments for protecting children’s mental and physical health development.
Every human being below the age of eighteen years is classified as a "child" and guaranteed by the CRC, which emphasizes special protection and care offered to juveniles. The CRC has 54 articles in total, regulating the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the child. The content of the CRC has clarified that the child is the subject of the rights with the following four major principles to guarantee the rights to the child:
(i) Non-discrimination (IAW CRC art. 2): This principle guarantees the full range of rights listed in the CRC in completeness, with a dominant status, and emphasizes equal opportunity, and the children's right of non-discrimination, namely, any child shall not suffer any tangible or intangible discriminations or punishments.
(ii) Best interests of the child (IAW CRC art. 3): This principle is regarded as the foundation of CRC. In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be the primary consideration.
(iii) The right to life, survival and development (IAW CRC art. 6): The right to development does not only refer to physical health, but also includes developments of mental, emotional, cognitive, social, and cultural aspects. States Parties recognize that every child has the inherent right to life. States Parties shall ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child.
(iv) Respect for the views of the child (IAW CRC art. 12): This principle aims at assuring the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.
The implementation of the fourth principle can enhance children's judgements regarding their own relevant affairs, enabling the child to be fully prepared to live an individual life in society.
The CRC reflects and emphasizes new concepts on ways of treating children, and that children are not only independent subjects, but they are also able to autonomously strive for their rights. The purpose of the CRC aims at emphasizing that families, nations and the international world should all be devoting themselves to building a friendly living environment for achieving the goal of children's best interests and greatest welfare. In addition to the subjectivity of children and juveniles, the rights of the child also include families and their surroundings, giving up children for adoption, adoption, foster care, the judicial system for juveniles, economic exploitation, substance abuse, human trafficking, and the policy system in central and local governments. Before promoting the CRC, the Ministry of Education of the Republic of China (Taiwan) has made great efforts in safeguarding children's and juveniles' rights, in hoping to assist each child to understand the rights of the child. After passing the Implementation Act of the Convention on the Rights of the Child until today, the Ministry of Education has continuously and comprehensively reviewed relevant judicial regulations and policies to confirm whether they fulfill both the spirit of the CRC as well as its four fundamental principles. In order to safeguard the rights of the child, managements and revisions have been carried out with time spans divisions of short, middle, and long terms. After proposing our national report, the Ministry of Education has continuously guaranteed equal rights to education, and the compulsory education for students from ages of 6 to 15, which is free from entrance examinations, tuition fees, and compulsory school entrance, and has promoted the downward extension of basic education. With the following three major strategies, "expanding public educare services", "establishing the quasi-public educare system", and "expanding the provision of childcare subsidies", children are safeguarded to obtain respect and care. According to the conclusive comments in the ROC's Initial Report, the Ministry of Education has implemented, managed, and evaluated operational procedures and follow-up supervisions, in order to fulfill specific CRC measures.
"A Child's Business is Everyone's Business" is the fundamental spirit of the CRC, where all policies take children's best interests as a priori consideration. In the future, the Ministry of Education will unceasingly safeguard juveniles' rights to healthy growth and development through efforts of educational conveyance, guidance and adjustments in order to enhance children's and juveniles' equal treatment in education, communities, and welfare administration, which respects juveniles' subjectivity and their fundamental rights in legislative, judicial and administrative procedures, enabling juveniles to have appropriate care and protection, so as to have opportunities to fulfil themselves, and prepare for their future.