UK and New Zealand among global bottom-ten in children’s rights

International children’s rights foundation KidsRights and Erasmus University Rotterdam have today published the KidsRights Index 2017, the annual global ranking which charts countries’ performance records concerning children’s rights. Its scope is truly unique, as the Index collects data from various reputable sources and identifies global themes and trends in the children’s rights arena. Portugal is lauded as the global frontrunner in 2017.

It owes its first place to strong performances in the fields of child legislation, health and education. Notable examples of underperforming countries include the United Kingdom, which fell from an 11th to the 156th place, and New Zealand (down from 45 to 158).
Interestingly, economically prosperous countries are not necessarily outperforming the rest. The Index does not only assess countries’ commitments to children’s rights in absolute terms, but also relative to the available resources. This is reflected, among other examples, by top ten rankings for poorer countries Thailand and Tunisia, which both perform well in cultivating an enabling environment for the rights of the child. Overall, the Index shows that industrialised nations are falling drastically short of allocating sufficient budgets towards creating a stable environment for children’s rights. Although many poorer states deserve praise for their efforts relative to their budgets and means, it is alarming that the industrialised world is neglecting its leadership responsibilities and failing to invest in the rights of children to the best of its abilities.

Consider, for example, the industrialised nations the UK and New Zealand, which this year both hold bottom-ten positions following very poor performances in domain 5, i.e. Child Rights Environment. The methodology for obtaining the final score in the Index is such that extremely poor performances in one domain cannot be compensated by higher scores in other areas, as all children’s rights are equally important. Extreme underperformance in one of the domains therefore creates an insurmountable bottleneck that automatically demotes the concerned country to the lower-most region of the Index.

The highly alarming trend of discrimination against minority groups has continued across the globe in 2017 but is especially distressing in the Middle East and North Africa. Many vulnerable and marginalised groups including refugees and street children are still widely discriminated against. Marc Dullaert, founder and chairman of the KidsRights Foundation, urges all 165 countries listed in the Index to treat non-discrimination as a policy priority in 2017: “Discrimination against vulnerable groups of children and youths should be met head-on by all 165 governments represented in the Index. It is severely hampering the opportunities of future generations to reach their full potential.”

On average, countries across the globe score high on Enabling Legislation, i.e. the indicator which measures the legal framework in place to protect and promote children’s rights. Various states have adopted new child laws in recent years. However, many new laws fail to fully comply with the principles and provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which is the crucial international benchmark. South Africa and the United Kingdom are just two examples of countries that must take steps to align domestic legislation with the CRC.


Portugal is the Index’s number one. Runners up in the top ten are Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Spain, France, Sweden, Thailand, Tunisia and Finland. Brunei (111 -> 65), Peru (87 -> 62) and South Africa (109 -> 84) receive honourable mentions for rising among the ranks significantly since last year’s Index following noticeable improvements in fostering an enabling environment for children’s rights. Worst performing countries overall in the Index are the Central African Republic, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Vanuatu, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the United Kingdom.

Please read the KidsRights Index 2017 report, the KidsRights Index 2017 scoretable and the KidsRights Index 2017 visual.

The KidsRights Index 2017

The KidsRights Index 2017_Scoretable

Visual KidsRights Index 2017

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