U.S. Warming to Child Rights Convention

Obama administration officials say efforts are underway to get the U.S. signed on to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The treaty, which allows countries to sign on in whole or in part, affirms that children have the basic rights to education, health care and protection from abuse. Every U.N. member except the U.S. and Somalia has ratified it. The Clinton administration signed it in 1995 but never submitted the treaty to the Senate for approval, amid warnings from senators that the motion would fail to achieve the two-thirds majority needed.

Opponents charge the treaty would usurp parental decision-making power, making the state — not parents — responsible for deciding what’s best for children. “This convention would undermine parental rights by providing a platform to emancipate children from the authority of their parents…. [Parents] will quickly find that the child, and the child’s guardian (the state), are in charge in the home,” said Bob Ellis, blogging at the Dakota Voice.

Supporters charge that opposition to the treaty lies in more practical concerns — mainly fears that the treaty would leave decision-making power up to the states rather than the federal government.

Moves to fully embrace the convention are part of a broader Obama administration policy to re-engage with the U.N. on rights-related questions, a push that includes the recent decision to rejoin the United Nations Human Rights Council.

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