Convention on the Rights of the Child
The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was written by the United Nations in recognition of the fact that those under 18 years of age are especially vulnerable to violations of human rights. Children are entitled to the same rights as all people under the UDHR, but they have the additional protection of the CRC to recognize the special barriers and threats they may face. This document was based on the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, which was proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1959. The declaration was updated in 1989 and was renamed the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The convention operates from the point of view that children are neither the property of their parents nor are they “helpless objects of charity” (UNICEF, 2005, P). UNICEF (2005, P) states that “the Convention offers a vision of the child as an individual and as a member of a family and community, with rights and responsibilities appropriate to his or her age and stage of development. By recognizing children’s rights in this way, the Convention firmly sets the focus on the whole child.”
Currently, all but three nations in the world have ratified the Convention: Somalia, the United States, and the new nation of South Sudan. The United States signed the document in 1995 but has not submitted it to Congress for ratification. Previously, the biggest stumbling block was the Convention’s prohibition against capital punishment (the death penalty) for juveniles, which the United States allowed until the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional in 2005. Currently, the largest barrier is that those opposing ratification fear that the convention would undermine parental authority. This was cited as a fear in the 2012 US Senate vote not to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)—that ratification would give the United Nations the right to determine how US parents raise their children. Despite the fact that prominent Republicans, including former President Bush, sought to achieve ratification of the CRPD, it was defeated (Helderman, 2012). In addition, the CRC provides for economic, social, and cultural rights of children. As previously discussed, the US government does not protect this group of rights.