The most ratified treaty in the world turns 20 years old today.  On November 20 1989, the Convention on the Rights of Child entered into force.  Today only two countries remain outside the treaty: Somalia…and the United States.  (Somalia is without a functioning government.  The United States is without a functioning Senate.) To mark the anniversary, UNICEF  released a report today, “State of the World’s Children, 2009″ and UNICEF director Ann Venemen highlighted some of the Convention’s accomplishments.

Ms. Veneman said one of the Convention’s most significant achievements has been its contribution to a reduction in the annual number of deaths of children under the age of five – from 12.5 million in 1990 to fewer than 9 million in 2008.

 She went on to point out that about 84 per cent of primary school-aged children are now in school, and the so-called gender gap – the numbers of boys compared to girls who are in school in the developing world – is shrinking.

UNICEF also has a nifty create-your-own chart feature on their website in which you can select countries and indicators to compare.  I thought this selection might be a geographically representative sample.  As you can see, only Equatorial Guinea saw and increase in child mortality since 1990.  Not sure what happened there, as opposed to say, Burundi, but the overall trends seem to be going in the right direction. 

 

 

This year marks the 20th anniversary of  the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.  UNICEF is celebrating accordingly with a series of PSAs like the one above (here’s one with Ewan McGregor and one with Claudia Schiffer).  To date every country in the world has ratified the agreement, except the United States and, um, Somalia (which has no functioning government.)