President Obama [see here, go to Question 12] and others have signaled their desire to get the U.S. to sign on to the United Nations’ “Convention on the Rights of the Child.” It has been approved by all member nations except the U.S. and Somalia.
For the most part, its desires are for moral and ethical treatment of children (although there’s no mention of any moral and ethical treatment of the preborn).
There are some troublesome articles in it, though, in particular ones that address free expression, religious practice and the rights of the parents to exercise control over those two things. It removes those rights, from what I can understand.
Here’s the text of the most problematic articles (emphases mine):
1. The child shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child’s choice.
2. The exercise of this right may be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:
(a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others; or
(b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals. [Rancho Miller note: No mention of the rights of parents to restrict information available to a child or the child’s ability to express himself or herself.]
1. States Parties shall respect the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
2. States Parties shall respect the rights and duties of the parents and, when applicable, legal guardians, to provide direction to the child in the exercise of his or her right in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child.
3. Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals, or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others. [RM note: Again, no mention of the parents’ rights to guide and/or regulate the child’s religious practices.]
The upshot of these articles is that parents are hamstrung when it comes to the influences on the child and his/her right to express himself/herself in any way that the child deems proper. According to conservative legal analysts like Michael Farris, such passages could ultimately be interpreted and legislated as meaning a parent couldn’t require a child to attend religious services or activities.
Farris also is concerned that the right to home school could be affected.
Now, the first thing I think of when confronted with a U.N. resolution or convention is that it stands little likelihood of being enforced. Nations generally sign onto such things and then ignore them. The U.N. is simply bureaucracy on a worldwide scale with little else to do than come up with documents like this.
However, it’s still dangerous to have our nation agree to something like this. For one thing, the entire document is an alarming exercise in regulation of family life on national and international levels. Taken seriously, the implementation of this document — likely just like other U.N. documents — would mean having an international body write our laws. I know that’s a “duh” observation, but it still needs to be pointed out and to be considered.
I’m opposed to the existence of the United Nations and think the organization has caused much more harm than it has done good. But that’s only because for the past 60+ years, it’s been seen as a pontificating body with no enforcement clout.
If it ever is taken seriously, though, the result would be devastating to our way of life and likely would negate the power of our Constitution, resulting in a surrender of sovereignty.
Senate approval 0f “The “Convention of the Rights of the Child” would be one step towards this.