1.1   Background of the Study

Development must be sustainable to meet present needs and future. Sustainability safeguards development and guarantees tomorrow’s needs. Development is the efficient or judicious utilization of resources (natural, human, industrial, institutional) for creating higher levels of material wealth, social well-being and individual self-fulfillment. Of paramount importance is the human factor in development, without which development is merely a mirage. Human beings are the facilitators of development, and without their children, development can never be sustainable. Thus, children must have the pride of place in every community since the child is the future pool on which the future generation is predicated.

A look down the memory lane reveals that one of the greatest challenges ever faced on earth and still being faced is the need to safeguard the human factor in development. By this, we mean protecting children, giving them a future and thus making development sustainable. Today, half of the world’s 2.2 billion children are threatened by poverty and HIV/AIDS (UNICEF, 2005). About 180 million are engaged in the worst forms of child labor; 1.2 million children are trafficked every year; and the number of children who died in 2003 before they were five was 10.6 million (UNICEF, 2004). These are horrendous; and a threat to global human development.

Law and development must go together since law is an essential tool for social engineering. Law can promote development and at the same time, it can inhibit it. Thus, development in any community must reflect in its laws otherwise archaic laws or the absence of a legal regime might retard development. Law must be in harmony with development and must be able to address social problems.

It is pertinent to note that law, being a dynamic tool in development, has been employed at different times to protect children and their rights. As far back as 1919, an industrial minimum age was adopted by the International Child Labor Convention to regulate children participation in the workplace. With the birth of the United Nations, the Declaration of the Rights of the Child was made in 1959. And on 20th November, 1989, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was adopted. Built on varied legal systems and cultural traditions, the convention is a universally agreed set of non-negotiable standards and obligations. It spells out the basic rights of the child everywhere; some of which range from the right to survival; development; protection from harmful influences, abuses and exploitation; to, right to participate fully in family, culture and social life. Every right spelt out in the convention is inherent in human dignity and harmonious development of the child. The convention gave birth to regional treaties like the Africa Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, and national laws like the Child’s Rights Act 2003 of Nigeria. This paper examines how these laws have impacted nationally and globally on the development of the child and on human development.

1.2   Statement of the Problem

Children are precious assets and sources of joy not only to their parents and immediate families but to the entire society. As the future hope and leaders of tomorrow, they have rights that need to be protected. They have to be cared for and nurtured to develop their potentials so that they can contribute to the development of the society. The saying that “the child is the father of the man” is true if and only if the right of the child is adequately protected in the society.

1.3   Objectives of the Study

1.  To examine a child and his rights in the society.

2.  To check the extent that these rights been abused and protected in the Nigerian society.

3.  To evaluate the implications of the abuses, and, or, protection of these rights on the overall development of the child and the society.

1.4   Research Questions

1. Who is a child and what are his rights in the society?

2. To what extent have these rights been abused and protected in the Nigerian society?

3. What are the implications of the abuses, and, or, protection of these rights on the overall development of the child and the society?

1.5   Research Hypotheses

Ho: Child right has been abused and unprotected in the Nigerian society.

Hi: Child right has not been abused and unprotected in the Nigerian society.

1.6   Significance of the Study

This study will be of immense benefit to other researchers who intend to know more on this topic and can also be used by non-researchers to build more on their work. This study contributes to knowledge and could serve as a bench mark or guide for other work or study. It avails individuals with information about child right and the contributions of UNICEF.

1.7   Scope/Limitations of the Study

This study is on UNICEF and child right in Nigeria.

Limitations of study

Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).

Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.

1.8   Definition of Terms

Child Right: The United Nations’ 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, or CRC, is the first legally binding international instrument to incorporate the full range of human rights civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights.

UNICEF: The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund is a United Nations program headquartered in New York City that provides long-term humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing countries.