The importance of equal rights and opportunities for all children has achieved nearly universal international consensus – the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), a powerful statement of these rights, has been ratified by 190 UN member states. Article 2 of the Convention requires that “States Parties shall respect and ensure the rights set forth in the present Convention to each child within their jurisdiction without discrimination of any kind, irrespective of the child’s or his or her parent’s or legal guardian’s race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status.” Countries have agreed on the fundamental importance of equal rights for children and adults alike through numerous conventions, including: the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965); the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979); the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief (1981); the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities (1992); and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006).
As the fundamental building blocks of a nation’s government and laws, constitutions shape the rules that governments and societies must follow. Considering the profound and long-lasting detrimental effects that inequities and discrimination have on children’s life chances and wellbeing, we investigated whether governments include provisions in their constitutions to promote equal rights and protect individuals from discrimination. These maps present new data on constitutional rights and protections worldwide, drawing on a thorough analysis of constitutional texts and amendments from 191 countries that allows a detailed comparison of constitutional rights to non-discrimination and equality for the first time.