By Amanda Vining, Regular ContributorNovember 27, 2015
image via blog.novakdjokovicfoundation.com
November 20th was Universal Children’s Day; a day when the world celebrates children and honors their role in the global community. But did you know that there is one nation that has not ratified the international treaty on children’s rights? That country is the United States.
The treaty, formally called The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), was written in 1989 and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1990. Over the past 25 years, it has become the most widely ratified international treaty. The United States signed the treaty in 1995, five years after it went into effect, but we have yet to ratify. To define what that means, “signature” represents that a nation recognizes that the treaty exists and is part of international law, and “ratification” means that a nation accepts and adopts the treaty within its borders.
That means that the United States is the only nation in the entire world that has not adopted international children’s rights within its borders.
The CRC consists of 54 articles that the international community has determined define the essential rights that should be afforded to children. These rights include access to education and healthcare, freedom of thought and expression, protection from abuse, violence, and child labor, and restrictions on legal punishment that can be placed on a child. The US was influential in drafting the CRC and a number of the articles were modeled after American policies. The treaty also has three optional protocols, which have been added since the original articles were written, and offer protection from armed conflict, human trafficking (including prostitution and use in pornography), and gives a communication protocol for children and their representatives. Funny enough, the United States has ratified the first two optional protocols, but still has not ratified the treaty itself.
When I found out that the United States was not a party to the convention, I thought that it was so important that I designed my entire undergraduate degree around the treaty. I developed a course of study and presented it to my university, and I was subsequently granted permission to create my own major. My senior year of college, I wrote an honors thesis about the relationship between the United States and the CRC. I was able to speak with some notable government officials who have had interactions with the treaty, including former President Bill Clinton, and what I was told over and over again was that bipartisan politics and the division in Congress were responsible for the treaty not being ratified. I also found that the treaty is largely out of public dialogue. Whenever I tell people that the United States is the only nation that hasn’t ratified the CRC, they are shocked. I have taken this as a cue to be more vocal about this issue.
I support children’s rights, so I have begun talking about the treaty and the rights afforded to children on my social media using the hashtag #RatifyCRC.
I have also taken opportunities to talk to my friends and family about children’s rights.
I believe that it is important for the United States to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child to signify to the rest of the world that we, too, support children's rights. We need to put children first and join the international community in ratifying the treaty. Only Congress and the President can officially ratify the CRC, but every citizen can use her/his voice to bring awareness. As a citizen of the United States, I am using my voice to support children’s rights.
Do you support children's rights? How can you use your voice to do so? Tell us below!
Amanda lives in Austin, Texas, where she strives every day to be as BRAVE and BeautyFULL as she can be. She graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a self-designed degree in Children’s Rights, and Duke University with a certificate in Nonprofit Management. In her spare time, Amanda can be found scouring Pinterest for her latest craft project, drinking coconut mochas in her favorite coffee shop, and creating content for the sexual violence prevention organization and blog, Talk About Rape (www.talkaboutrape.com.)
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