Sunday, June 27, 2010

America Again Bows Out of UN Rights of the Child Convention

In 1989, the United Nation's Rights of the Child Convention was drafted, and it was put into effect in 1990.  Although the United States, then under the Reagan Administration, was instrumental in drafting the articles in the treaty, America never signed it, along with only one other country to date--Somalia.

The intention of the treaty was to establish guidelines for basic children's rights.  The document acknowledges that children are often the victims of the most violent crimes, including rape, forced conscription, forced labor, and other forms physical and psychological abuse.  Essentially, the U.N. Rights of the Child Convention was created in order to give those under eighteen a voice and to offer protection for the one group of the world's citizens who are most vulnerable to suffering on a global scale.

Other U.N. member nations are perplexed at the United States' refusal over the past twenty years to sign the treaty.  A recent Voice of America article (“US Remains Hold-Out in UN Child Rights Convention”) reports on the nation's most recent hold out.  While President Barack Obama has called America's absence in the treaty "embarrassing," the Senate is the final decision maker.  As of yet, the convention has not been presented for ratification.

What, then, is holding us back?  For one, the United States has been historically reticent in signing any sort of international treaty.  Although the Rights of the Child treaty is seemingly benign, conservative elements across the country have decried the U.N. Convention as indicative of international power impinging on national sovereignty and parental rights.

Those supporting the ratification assert that the supposed power-grabbing of the treaty is a misconception clouded by ultra-conservative politicking.  The treaty, if anything, affirms parental rights and stresses the importance of children being raised and supported by their parents, even if they are separated.

While the United States did sign two additional protocols in which forced child conscription and prostitution were banned, the country has yet to move forward with any decision regarding the treaty.  Some in the global community have pointed out the good it would do for suffering children around the world--especially in third world countries--if the world's most powerful nation joined the convention.

This guest post is contributed by Jessica Cortez, who writes on the topics of Online Degree Programs.  She welcomes your comments at her email Id:  


  1. One of the major problems many people have with the U.N. CRC is that it gives the government unparalleled standing to interfere with families.
    Anytime there is a disagreement between parent and child, whether that be where and when a child will attend church, where a child will attend school,or whether the child will mow the lawn or wash the dishes, the government has the right to step in.
    It's interesting to me that the world thinks we need this sort of international treaty in order to prevent abuse of children. From what I see in the news, it hasn't really helped children in most parts of the world. America is quite capable of protecting its children without ratifying the U.N.CRC. Good parents have the best interest of their children in mind and should not be "second-guessed" by the government if abuse is not proven.

  2. I agree. If America does not ratify it, what example is that setting to other countries? Our children in Colombia need every tool, every campaign, and every law (no matter how symbolic it may appear in a developed country). Our children in Colombia need for the rich nations who have a voice to hold responsible those who force them to be child soldiers.