You and all the Americans who voted for you were once children. Keep this simple fact in mind as you read this memo, because as adults, we sometimes forget the uniquely vulnerable role of children in society. This was certainly the spirit of Madeleine Albright, then Secretary of State, when she signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1995 on behalf of the United States. Since that time, there has been no progress made in this country toward ratification. While the treaty sits idle, children across the world and within our own borders are faced with devastating situations beyond their control.
[...] “Placing the Convention on the Rights of the Child in an American Context.” Human Rights Spring 1999. Walker, Brooks, and Wrightsman. Children's Rights in the United States: In Search of a National Policy. Sage Publications, California 1999. Smith, Kevin Mark. United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child: The Sacrifice of American Children on the Altar of Third-World Activism.” Washburn Law Journal, Vol Issue 112. pp 111-150. Lane, Charles. Supreme Court Abolishes Juvenile Executions.” Washington Post. Wednesday, March 2005; Page A01 Children's Rights in America : U.N. [...]
[...] It may not be wisest, however, to consider the rights of children using a cost-benefit analysis. Reasons why the United States should ratify the CRC are moral as well as political and economic. These include: the generation of information about children in America, getting a “yardstick” to measure progress, gaining international authority to prevent child abuse, and building capacity to ensure children's rights through formal diplomatic means. Conservative Critiques of the CRC When the Convention on the Rights of the Child was drafted in 1989, there was little mention made in the United States. [...]
[...] UN Convention on the Rights of the Child meets the American Constitution: Towards a supreme law of the world” The International Journal of Children's Rights, Issue 11: Wright, Robin. Loses Moral High Ground.” Charlesworth, Hilary. What are International Women's Rights? Davidson, Howard. Call for U.S. Participation.” Human Rights: Journal of the Section of Individual Rights & Responsibilities, Winter2005, Vol Issue 1. LeBlanc, Laurence J. The Convention on the Rights of the Child. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln 1995. p 37. [...]
[...] One is that ratification of the CRC would not likely reduce national sovereignty. In general, the United States has reserved a great deal of control when implementing human rights treaties. Through the use of “reservations, understandings, and declarations” (RUDs) the United States can abstain from certain articles, interpret others widely, and make its stance known to other parties. This has been the case with other ratification of rights treaties, which the United States declares to be self-executing.” This means that the treaty can only be implemented through domestic legislation—which would require popular support and time, ensuring many political safeguards. This is, of course, a major protection of national sovereignty. [...]
[...] In actuality, the benefits conferred by ratification (gathering information, strengthening networks, measuring progress, repairing US reputation, and building international capacity) far exceed the costs. But this kind of cost-benefit analysis misses the larger point. Children's rights are not a matter of economics but of morality, President Bush. Just ask any child why his or her rights are important—and you may be surprised to hear the response of a thinking human being. References: Davidson, Howard. Call for U.S. Participation.” Human Rights: Journal of the Section of Individual Rights & Responsibilities, Winter2005, Vol Issue 1. [...]
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