1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
International law takes special interest concerning children worldwide. This is due to the
fact that children are the most vulnerable and powerless members of the society dominated by
adults. World leaders believe that children deserve adequate protection so that they can grow
to preserve the human race. Most times, children are considered to be the future of any
society. The establishment of legal and institutional frameworks were being put in place by
world leaders in other to ensure the protection and promotion of the rights of the child.
In the antiquity, nobody gave special protection to children. In the middle age children
were considered as small adults. In the middle of the 19th century, the idea appears in France
to give children special protection, enabling the progressive development of “minors‟ rights”.
Since 1881, French laws included the right for the children to be educated.
During the 1980s, many child rights activists claimed that, as children are human beings
and the subjects of all human rights, they did not need a special human rights instrument
devoted to them as a group. Yet it is clear from current histories of child rights that children
are viewed as objects of rights in a discourse of welfare concern more often than they are
recognised as subjects of rights. (Judith 2000) The Convention on the Rights of the Child
(CRC) is innovative in making it clear that, with respect to international human rights law,
children are active subjects. They not only require certain forms of protection in addition to
the “normal” entitlements of human rights law, they also require special forms of protection
because they are in a vulnerable position, both legally and developmentally. These
entitlements include the right to have their opinion taken into consideration when adults take
decisions on their behalf (Article 12), to express their views (Article 13) and to join or form
associations to represent their own interests (Article 15).
The modern era of international human rights law can be said to begin with the
establishment of the UN system after the 1939-1945 Second World War, specifically with the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. The Declaration clearly established the
principle that nations that are members of an intergovernmental body, such as the UN, can
intervene in the domestic affairs of other states to ensure that citizens’ rights are respected. A
number of other treaties followed the Universal Declaration, dealing with different groups of
persons and rights. But rights are indivisible. The CRC is only conceivable, and can only be
implemented, if it is seen in the context of the international human rights agenda in its
entirety. In the Preamble to the Convention this is made clear through reference to preceding
human rights instruments. Rights that are not spelt out in the CRC, but which applied to
children before it was drafted and adopted, include consideration of their special needs and
vulnerability in times of armed conflict, as well as protection against trafficking, exploitative
work, torture and prostitution. (Judith, 2000).
Nevertheless, United Nations International Children‟s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) was
instrumental in promoting the widespread ratification of the UN Convention through
organising the 1990 World Summit for Children. This meeting of 71 world leaders in New
York was the largest ever meeting of heads of state and had the objective of obtaining their
signatures to this new human rights document. In this respect it was supremely successful. It
is part of the overall myth of the CRC (appearing to be a compulsory preface to any account –
– historical or otherwise) that no other piece of human rights law has come into force so
rapidly, nor received quite so much public attention. (Judith, 2000)
A second objective of the Summit was to ensure that children actually enjoy the rights
provided. (Judith, 2000) The meeting ended with agreement on a Plan of Action that included
twelve broad goals to be achieved before 2000. All signatories promised to develop national
plans of action to this end, and to report on progress at five-year intervals. Yet it is clear that
in this respect the Summit was unsuccessful. In some cases the narrowly conceived twelve
Summit goals have obscured, or well-nigh obliterated, the much broader range of rights in the
CRC. In others, national plans of action have been drawn up but not provided with a budget
sufficient for implementation. Sometimes the only changes made are legal. In some cases,
nothing has happened at all. As Belgian lawyer Eugeen Verhellen has pointed out, it often
seems as if there is more concern to protect children’s rights than to protect children.
Children have not always been on the human rights agenda as a separate group.
Indeed, the human rights agenda itself is a relatively recent historical phenomenon. The
question of children’s rights was not an issue for the French Declaration of the Rights of Man
in 1780. Children were regarded as a residual category of person, lacking full human rights.
At that time European societies simply thought of children as the property of their parents,
and not particularly valuable property at that. According to Blackstone’s 1758 legal
commentaries in England, for instance, child abduction was not theft in the legal sense unless
the child happened to be dressed. The thief was regarded as having stolen the clothes. Apart
from that, child theft was tantamount to stealing a corpse. In the case of both a dead body and
a live child, no legal person was involved. (Judith, 2000).
At the beginning of the 20th century, children‟s protection starts to be put in place, including
protection in the medical, social and judicial fields. This kind of protection starts first in
France and spreads across Europe afterwards.
Since 1919, the international community, following the creation of The League of Nations
(later to become the UN), starts to give some kind of importance to that concept and
elaborates a Committee for child protection. The League of Nations adopts the Declaration of
the Rights of the Child on September 16, 1924, which is the first international treaty
concerning children‟s rights.
It was not until the late nineteenth century that nascent children‟s rights‟ protection
movement countered the widely held view that children were mainly quasi-property and
economic assets. In the United States, the Progressive movement challenged courts‟
reluctance to interfere in family matters, promoted broad child welfare reforms, and was
successful in having laws passed to regulate child labor and provide for compulsory
education. It also raised awareness of children‟s issues and established a juvenile court
system. Another push for children‟s rights occurred in the 1960s and 1970s, when children
were viewed by some advocates as victims of discrimination or as an oppressed group. In the
international context, “[t]he growth of children‟s rights in international and transnational law
has been identified as a striking change in the post-war legal landscape. (Wendy, 2007)
Conversely, the notion that children have rights that need to be enforced and protected is a
modern development. It was usually taken for granted that adults have the best interests of the
child at heart and so there was no need to think of the rights of the child. Findings by
UNICEF(1995) shows that all around the world, children are exploited as labourers and
prostitutes, deprived of an education, denied adequate nutrition and health care and they
therefore need help and protection from an adult world that carry out most of this
abuses.(Ajomo & Okabgue, 1996).
The world conference on education for All (EFA) (1990), the World Conference on human
rights (1993), the fourth conference on women (1995) and the millennium development goals
(2000) are other international efforts taken. Measures for protection of dignity, equality and
basic human rights for children started as early as the 19th century. Since then, children have
become a constituency in their own right on whose behalf laws have been enacted providing
for the protection against the abuse of parents and other adults, economic exploitation and
At the regional level, the assembly of heads of state and government of the organization of
African unity (OAU) adopted a declaration on the rights and welfare of the African child at
its 16th ordinary session in 1979. In 1990, the summit of the heads of state of the OAU
adopted a formal convention, the charter on the rights and the Welfare of the African Child to
which Nigeria is a signatory. In 1992, African states adopted the Dakar consensus which
recognizes the principle of first call and exhorts African countries to incorporate the goals of
child survival, development and protection in their development programmes (OAU, 1992).
Nigeria, believing in protecting the best interests of the child, signed the UN Convention in
March, 1991 and by 2003, the convention and the African charter were incorporated into
domestic laws through the enactment of the Child‟s Right Act (CRA) on July 31, 2003. Since
then, not less than 16 states have adopted the Act (Obiagwu 2009). Prior to the 2003 Act,
Nigerian child protection law was defined by the Children and Young Person‟s Act (CYPA),
which was revised later and incorporated into Nigeria‟s Federal Laws in 1958 (RCW 2005).
The federal government has enacted a series of other laws, policies and plans of actions in
various sectors geared towards the protection of children‟s rights. Some of these laws and
policies have been enacted at the state levels.
The significance of the above global, regional and national efforts lays in the fact that they
demonstrate the commitment of the international community and in particular the Nigerian
government to the protection of the Rights of Child.
The concern of this project is to examine the theoretical and empirical aspects of Child Rights
Laws vis-a-vis the International Conventions that guides the Rights of Children in Nigeria.
The prevalent of Child Rights Abuse in Nigeria and the consequence of such abuse on the
Nigerian Child motivates this study. The study also seeks to examine the extent of the child‟s
right law and its impact on Children‟s right in Nigeria.
The study is also intended to reveal the various factors militating against the Child Rights‟
law in Nigeria and proffer possible solutions.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The background information provided above shows that inspite of the global, regional
and national efforts put in place for the protection of the right of child and also for the
promotion of the right of the child, there is still an extensive violation of the rights of the
child both globally and nationally .Violation of the rights of the child is a continuous case in
Nigeria. In assessing the child‟s right law in Nigeria, the question to be addressed here
include, how has the provisions of Child Right‟s Act in Nigeria and UN convention affected
the fortunes of the Nigerian child in terms of the child‟s right to life, education, health,
protection against economic exploitation and access to justice? This research seeks to identify
causes of children rights violation and abuse and also recommend how these rights can be
protected and promoted thus preparing the next generation of Nigerian leaders. It is also
intended to examine whether the government of Nigeria have the political will, sincerity and
commitment to enforce and implement the existing child‟s right law in Nigeria.
1.3 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
In assessing the Domestication of International Child Rights Law in Nigeria during the period
under focus, this study intends to ask the following relatable questions:
– To what extent has the provisions of the UN convention and the child rights act
been faithfully implemented in Nigeria?
– Are there any institutional mechanisms to ensure that these laws are enforced to
their logical conclusions?
– Do Nigerian children enjoy all their fundamental rights as provided by the Child
– What can be considered to be the panacea for the effective promotion and
protection of child rights in the country?
1.4 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The aims of this study are;
– To examine the extent in which UN convention and the Child Rights Act have
been effectively implemented in Nigeria
– To discover whether there are institutional mechanisms for the enforcement of the
Child Rights Law in Nigeria.
– To ascertain whether Nigerian children enjoy all their fundamental rights as
provided by the Child Rights Law.
– To suggest possible solutions for the effective promotion and protection of Child
Rights in Nigeria.
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS.
A hypothesis as described by Kepler (2000) is a prediction of what can be seen in the world
of reality. Its formulation is significant in research work; functioning as a link between the
world of theory and reality, showing the direction of data analysis and helping in the
organisation of the research report. Hypothesis are assumptions made by the researcher in
order to test the theoretical framework of the research through empirical analysis of data
collected to enable him arrive at a reasonable conclusion as whether or not the hypothesis is
valid or not.
Two types of hypothesis; Null Hypothesis (H0) and Alternate Hypothesis (H1) will be
adopted for the problem under study.
1. H0 : UN convention and the existing provisions of Child Rights Act have not been
effective in preventing Child Rights violation in Nigeria.
H1 : UN convention and the existing provisions of child rights Act have been
effective in preventing child rights violation in Nigeria.
2. H0: The Nigerian government does not have the political will, sincerity and
commitment to enforce the Child Rights Law in Nigeria.
H1: The Nigerian government does has the political will, sincerity and commitment to
enforce the Child Rights Law in Nigeria.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study is significant in that it concerns a segment of the Nigerian population which
if well-handled can make available necessary basis for fundamental transformation of the
Nigerian society. This is due to the fact that the greatness of any country lies not only on the
adult population but tactically on children that are to be trained to become future leaders of
the nation. The study will also contribute to the analytical framework from which the
government at all levels will formulate specific programmes and policies in the interest of the
Nigerian child. The study will also create awareness on the part of parents and guardians, the
community and the society at large.
1.7 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
1. The study is limited to the practice of child rights law in Nigeria between 1999
2. The study is also limited to the Nigerian experience due to lack of adequate
finance to obtain all the logistical data from all relevant stake holders.
3. Time constraints: Time of survey is limited in terms of data collection. All
sampled population could not meet the needed information within the stipulated
1.8 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
The data collected for this study are basically primary and secondary data. They were
sourced from questionnaires, interviews, journals, newspapers, and internet. The target
population designed to cover the study will be confined to hundred (100) people of which
may consist of the following persons: the prominent workers of National Human Rights
Commission, Public Complains Commission and Ministry of Justice. It also includes the
children population that are affected with the subject matter. The research technique that
will be used in this study is the purposive sampling technique in which a particular group
will be selected from the population to constitute the sample because this group is
considered to cover the whole with reference to the characteristics in question. (Kumari
1.9 DEFINITION OF MAJOR TERMS
It is important to clarify some concepts that will come up frequently in the study.
These concepts need to be defined in order to eliminate conceptual confusion. They
include the following: the child; child rights; and child abuse and labour.
Definition of the child
The word „child‟ has various definitions. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
(Article 1) and the African charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (Article II)
defined a child as a person below the age of 18 years. Section 21 of the 2003 Child Rights
Act of Nigeria provides that no person under the age of 18 years is capable of contracting
a valid marriage. This implies that under Nigerian law, a child is any person less than 18
years of age.
The concept of the Child Rights
The concept of the rights of the child is a recent development. It is borne out of the
premise that children are the most vulnerable and powerless members of the society
dominated by adults. UNICEF (1995) documented that there were well over a dozen
countries in which conditions for children were far below the norms to be expected for
their levels of economic development. An International Labour Organization (ILO) report
recorded by Social Science Academy of Nigeria (2002) cited disquieting evidence of
widespread physical, mental and sexual abuse of girls working as house helps in homes
other than their own.
Child Labour and Abuse
The International Labour Organization (ILO) (1985) sees child labour as any work
undertaken by children below 15years which endangers or interferes with the basic rights
of children, such as free play, education, participation in other social and cultural
activities; and generally activities necessary for normal physical, psychic, intellectual and
emotional development. According to Yecho (2008), the concept “child labour” has no
universally accepted definition. This is in view of the fact that what is considered child
labour in one culture is seen as child training in another.
1.10 CHAPTER ORGANIZATION
For a proper analysis of the work to be achieved, the work will be divided into five
chapters. Chapter one is the general introduction, it contains the background to the study,
statement of the problem, research questions, objective of the study, research hypothesis,
significance of the study, scope and limitation of the study. Chapter two is the Literature
Review. It contains the conceptual clarification and theoretical framework. Chapter three
is about the Research Methodology. It contains a brief history of case study, restatement
of hypothesis, research design, sample population, sample area, sampling technique,
method of data collection, Validity and Reliability of instruments. Chapter four contains
the Data Presentation and Analysis. Chapter five will contain the Summary of Findings,
Conclusion and Recommendation.
DISCLAIMER: All project works, files and documents posted on this website, eProjectTopics.com are the property/copyright of their respective owners. They are for research reference/guidance purposes only and some of the works may be crowd-sourced. Please don’t submit someone’s work as your own to avoid plagiarism and its consequences. Use it as a reference/citation/guidance purpose only and not copy the work word for word (verbatim). The paper should be used as a guide or framework for your own paper. The contents of this paper should be able to help you in generating new ideas and thoughts for your own study. eProjectTopics.com is a repository of research works where works are uploaded for research guidance. Our aim of providing this work is to help you eradicate the stress of going from one school library to another in search of research materials. This is a legal service because all tertiary institutions permit their students to read previous works, projects, books, articles, journals or papers while developing their own works. This is where the need for literature review comes in. “What a good artist understands is that nothing comes from nowhere. The paid subscription on eProjectTopics.com is a means by which the website is maintained to support Open Education. If you see your work posted here by any means, and you want it to be removed/credited, please contact us with the web address link to the work. We will reply to and honour every request. Please notice it may take up to 24 – 48 hours to process your request.