This coming Friday marks the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the most comprehensive treaty on children’s rights. The convention has been ratified by nearly every country in the world, except for the United States. The convention would fill current gaps in U.S. laws, and provide all children in America with the same robust protections that children in 193 countries are already entitled to.
Twenty years ago, countries around the world came together and pledged to uphold children’s rights. Their pledge, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), is the most comprehensive treaty on children’s rights and was adopted on November 20, 1989. The CRC reflects the universal recognition of children’s unique human rights protection needs.
Only two countries haven’t ratified the treaty: Somalia (which has been a failed state without an effective government over the past two decades) and the United States.
The United States!?
How embarrassing! Although the U.S. had a critical role in drafting the international treaty, and President Clinton signed it in 1995, the Senate never actually ratified the treaty. (Under the U.S. Constitution, a treaty doesn’t become law until the Senate gives its advice and consent to ratification.)
Even President Obama has recognized this embarrassment. During his presidential campaign, he said that it is “important that the United States return to its position as a respected global leader and promoter of human rights. It’s embarrassing to find ourselves in the company of Somalia, a lawless land. I will review [the CRC] and other treaties and ensure that the United States resumes its global leadership in human rights.”
The CRC would fill current gaps in U.S. laws, and provide all children in America with the same robust protections that children in 193 countries are already entitled to. The convention would offer much-needed protection to vulnerable populations — including minority and poor children, and students with disabilities — in areas such as access to quality education, health care and protection from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation.
The Obama administration has an opportunity to bring the CRC to the Senate for consent and approval. If ratified by the United States, the CRC would bolster existing protections and foster U.S. commitment to and promotion of children’s rights in the U.S. and around the world.
This week, we’ll be blogging about ways the ACLU has been advocating for children’s rights.
We can’t afford to let another 20 years pass.