The United Nations designated November 20 as Universal Children’s Day in 1954, and countries celebrate the day by promoting the ideals of improving children's welfare and increasing awareness of the universal rights of children. The U.N. General Assembly and governments around the world also mark the day by official observances and by announcing the launch of global initiatives to help improve the living conditions of children.
The General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child to mark the occasion in 1959 and the Convention of the Rights of the Child in 1989. Other organizations, such as Save the Children, celebrate by highlighting the work they do to protect children against disease, famine and violence and launch initiatives of their own, often in conjunction with or in support of the U.N. objectives.
U.N. initiatives in honor of Universal Children’s Day have included reducing infant mortality rates and eliminating disease, hunger and poverty. The Millennium Development Goals in 2000 outlined a plan to stop the spread of HIV and AIDS to children by 2015. Other initiatives have focused on protecting children from violence and helping them deal with the psychological consequences of war.
Many countries, including the United States, do not celebrate the day or do so on different dates. The day is observed on June 1 in China, Russia and former eastern-bloc countries. The United States observes National Child's Day on the first Sunday in June.