This post is related to an earlier post The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child . . . If you are interested in reading more about this topic check the earlier post.
The United States is debating the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). At this time it has been signed, during the Clinton presidency, but not ratified. The United States government had an active role in the drafting of the Convention. President Barack Obama has described the failure to ratify the Convention as embarrassing’ and has promised to review this.
The non-ratification of the treaty is due to the opposition claiming it conflicts with the U. S. Constitution. Legal concerns over ratification have mostly focused on issues of sovereignty and federalism. Meanwhile the U.S. Supreme Court has held that no federal, state or local government may interfere with the parent-child relationship. In addition some Americans think the U.S. already has the same things covered as the CRC within their own laws. The two reasons often given for the US Senate not ratifying the convention were:
- Some states allowed children to be given the death penalty, which the Convention would not allow. In 2005, the US Supreme Court decision in Roper v. Simmons has held execution of juveniles to be unconstitutional, citing the Convention as one of several indications that “the United States now stands alone in a world that has turned its face against the juvenile death penalty”.
- They claim “this Treaty would virtually undermine parents’ rights as we know it in the United States.”
Ratification of the UNCRC by the United States would require representatives of the U.S. government to appear before the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child, a panel of child rights experts from around the world, every 5 years to explain their implementation of such issues as universal health insurance for all American children, currently a human right in other western industrialized nations. One of the most controversial article of the CRC is Article 12, which says:
- “Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child … the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child…”
Another highly debated article is Article 37 which prohibits sentencing of juveniles to life imprisonment with no opportunity for parole. As of 2002, laws in 22 states allowed for the execution of juveniles. The 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision Roper v. Simmons found juvenile execution unconstitutional as cruel and unusual punishment. Unfortunately this decision did not address the question of life without possibility of parole.[ The 2010 decision Graham v. Florida limited the sentence of life imprisonment with no opportunity for parole to the crime of homicide. As a result of this ruling only 6 U.S. states prohibited sentencing of juveniles to life imprisonment with no opportunity for parole in all cases.
In general the objection of the ratification of the CRC is concentrated on the following three beliefs:
- would endanger national and state sovereignty;
- would undermine parental authority by allowing the UN to dictate how parents raise and teach their children; and
- would enable children the right to do as they please, including taking legal action against their parents, having abortions, joining gangs, etc.
The United States is the only country, (other than Somalia who did not have an acting government) to not ratify the CRC. It is embarrassing. The U.S. is known all over the world for its humanitarian role in helping other countries and helping overcome disasters. Isn’t the children of the world worthy of the same humanitarian aid? Please consider contacting your congressmen and ask for the ratification of this treaty. Put the children of the world first and build a better future. Show them that you care.