Friday, October 2, 2015
On October 1st, Somalia officially ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Now every country in the world has ratified the CRC … except the United States. The United States had as much influence on the text of the CRC as any country – during the drafting of the treaty, the United States submitted proposals and revisions on 38 of the 40 substantive provisions of the treaty. Rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion are included in the CRC because the U.S. government insisted on it. A review of all treaty provisions reveals that the CRC and U.S. law are largely compatible. Yet the United States remains the only country that resists the idea of accepting obligations to ensure the rights and well-being of every child subject to its jurisdiction.
Since the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities failed to achieve a two-thirds vote in the Senate in December 2012, the prospects of U.S. ratification of any human rights treaty haven’t seemed great. But progress on the CRC is entirely in the hands of the Obama Administration. The treaty has yet to be forwarded by the President to the Senate.
It’s time. While people might debate the negative consequences of reservations, understandings, and declarations (RUDs), the availability of RUDs negates any argument that issue X or issue Y is a barrier to ratification. The Obama Administration has an opportunity to move the CRC forward, and in doing so not only join the rest of the world but also show U.S. parents and children that the government cares about the rights and well-being of children.