International Human Rights Standards for Juvenile Justice

International law in the area of juvenile justice is substantial and detailed. International standards and norms in the area of juvenile justice can be found primarily in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which is the most important legally binding international instrument with regard to juvenile justice. Articles 37, 39 and 40 of the CRC pertain to children’s rights with respect to juvenile justice and, more generally, the criminal justice system as a whole. In addition, while not formally part of international law, the General Comments of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child also provide important guidance notably on its interpretation of the provisions of the CRC.  

Pakistan was one of the first States to sign and ratify the CRC in 1990. In 2016, Pakistan ratified the Optional Protocol to the CRC on the involvement of children in armed conflict, after having acceded to the Optional Protocol to the CRC on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography in 2011. At the regional level, Pakistan is a party to the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Whilst primarily an association for social and economic development, SAARC has a technical committee on women and children. This Committee has focused on preventing the trafficking of women and children in the region and adopted a Convention on Combating the Crime of Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution (2002) which Pakistan has ratified along with a Convention for the Promotion of Child Welfare (2002).

Additionally, the other primary child rights instruments include the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (the “Beijing Rules”, 1985), the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty (the “Havana Rules” 1990), the UN Guidelines for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency (the “Riyadh Guidelines”, 1990), the UN Guidelines for Action on Children in the Criminal Justice System (the “Vienna Guidelines”, 1997) as well as the United Nations Model Strategies and Practical Measures on the Elimination of Violence against Children in the Field of Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (the UN Model Strategies on VAC).


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