U.N. “Convention on the Rights of the Child”

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):

Article 13

    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.]

Article 14

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.

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8 thoughts on “U.N. “Convention on the Rights of the Child”

  1. The CRC is aspirational. It would be as easy for the US to protect its constitutional supremacy as it has been for other countries with written constitutions who have signed. No threat to US independence. The real ‘threat’ is to those who object to the idea that children have rights.

    As for the UN doing nothing, this is such a sweeping generalisation that it cannot be taken seriously. Yes, when its stronger members hamstring it, then people starve, are killed in war, are exploited etc. We should look to our governments who stop it from working as it should, to protect and promote world peace.

    The UN isn’t an “it” or a “they”, it is “we the peoples”, the self-same phrase that starts the US Constitution – funny that …

    It’s easy to see the failures – but if “we” work together across boundaries, “we” have eliminated smallpox. Now many kids won’t perhaps know what it was.

    It WAS one of the scourges of mankind, millions suffered and died in its epidemics. Its appearance in a community was a moment of dread. The only way it could have been tackled was through global effort, and it was done through the UN family of agencies.

    Your problem appears to be that you are not happy with your children having rights that exist separately from yours. Children we hold in trust not ownership. The CRC is perfectly clear about the lead role of parents, and the supporting role of the state. It also is clear that the state has a duty to protect if trust is abused.

    In that regard it simply sums up what is in the law of every civilised nation. There is no power of enforcement, not even a CRC court of last resort – all that happens is that participating nations submit reports on progress to a UN Committee of experts who are nominated for their experience and knowledge, not for their power to impose. Governments can ignore it, and do. But often they agree and changes happen where they need to happen. Often that is a support for parents and others within a nation whose children are losing out – for example, disabled children, those from ethnic and religious minorities etc

    What also is very good is that this process allows organisations within countries to also submit reports and that is where parents in particular have been able to paint a different picture to the often cosy view presented by their governments.

    The CRC is not a legislature, it is a means of sharing common aims and experience globally. Not one country has ever been ‘made’ to do what the CRC says – that’s because the machinery does not exist and is not meant to.

    You are anti-UN, full stop. Just consider that many people are not – they simply want the system to work to stop war, and to build peace, justice and freedom – which is why the US and others set it up. If it does not do that, we blame ourselves. That’s what it is – us.

  2. Jan, thanks for your reply. I disagree with you on several points.

    “Your problem appears to be that you are not happy with your children having rights that exist separately from yours. Children we hold in trust not ownership. The CRC is perfectly clear about the lead role of parents, and the supporting role of the state. It also is clear that the state has a duty to protect if trust is abused.”

    My problem is that the U.N. has no right to stick its nose into my country’s business, or into my family’s business. The state only has the right to intercede when a family steps outside the boundaries of Scripture.

    As for the UN doing nothing, this is such a sweeping generalisation that it cannot be taken seriously. Yes, when its stronger members hamstring it, then people starve, are killed in war, are exploited etc. We should look to our governments who stop it from working as it should, to protect and promote world peace.

    OK, let me rephrase that. The U.N. is rarely effective for good. It’s great at building bureaucracies, protecting tyrannies, etc.

    In that regard it simply sums up what is in the law of every civilised nation. There is no power of enforcement,

    So, what’s the point? To simply aspire to something? If it has no concrete impact, there’s no point to it. It’s blather.

    You are anti-UN, full stop. Just consider that many people are not – they simply want the system to work to stop war, and to build peace, justice and freedom – which is why the US and others set it up. If it does not do that, we blame ourselves. That’s what it is – us.

    The U.N. mainly serves as a forum for anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism.

  3. Oh, and Jan, you totally ignored my point that it neglects the treatment of preborn children, which is its most telling point. Any document about the rights of children that does not condemn abortion is immoral. You can talk all you want about eradication of disease and hunger, but if you’re also willing to support the deaths of innocent children, you have no moral ground upon which to stand.

  4. One more point I neglected to make: You said that children are put in our trust. That is true. But they are put into the family’s trust by God, not by the state or an international organization.

  5. What’s the use of aspiration? Well, as the poet says, “where there is no vision, the people perish” (and James Thurber quipped “And where there’s television, the people also perish”). “They shall forge their swords into ploughshares” …. not a vision? What on earth did the Prophets have if not aspiration and vision? The whole of scripture is based on human aspiration – God commands it. We are commanded to become the sons of God. If that is not ultimate aspiration what is?

    The only way the UN has power is if nations give it any – and that depends on the most powerful nations. Like America. It’s great isn’t it, the US and the rest set it up in 1945, and then failed to make it work. Then they blame the UN not themselves. Ever read the UN Charter? Had it been made to work, this would be a safer and better world.

    No you’re right, the UN has no right to stick its nose anywhere within any state unless that state oversteps international law and the rest of the world then decides to do something, if it can be bothered. So Darfur – people die while we all sit round and say “can’t interfere”. Dead right, same in Zimbabwe. Kids can just die – and they do, in their thousands. Mustn’t interfere. So no chance of it telling America what to do. If you think that’s what the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is all about, you are just wrong. It’s what nations together have agreed will be the minimum standards for every child.

    You fail to answer the point I made which is that it provides ordinary people with a lever with which the act against governments that let their kids down.

    I will and do talk about disease and hunger – Jesus told us all to help those “the least amongst” us when they are sick and hungry. Otherwise, He warns, He knows us not. His words. People can parade all they like in the market place saying Lord Lord – the atheist who denied His existence and who did what He said was given a place in Heaven. That’s scripture. So from a Christian perspective, the UN is there to do what God commands – blessed are the peacemakers also.

    I never mentioned abortion – the Convention doesn’t. (I guess that when it was written, we were all a bit naive, we didn’t think about children having abortions.)

    It does state the Child’s Right to Life : “Article 6 1. States Parties recognize that every child has the inherent right to life”. The Vatican supports the CRC so I doubt the case can be made that the CRC sanctions abortion. Abortion is not a right of the child, so it’s not in the CRC. Simple. And given that most nations at the time it was written did not have legalised abortion, I suspect that, had anyone tried to give a child that right, it would never have got in to the text. I am pretty clear that the CRC gives no support for abortion.

    The CRC says nothing about the Right to Bear Arms. Does that make it unacceptable? Or is it agreed that this is not something that should be applied to children? It says nothing about the free market. Or socialism.

    Its text does suggest something akin to Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness for every child, and I’d guess that there were Americans amongst those who drafted it.

  6. —You fail to answer the point I made which is that it provides ordinary people with a lever with which the act against governments that let their kids down.—

    Actually, you’re beginning to convince me that I shouldn’t be that concerned about it. At this point, the U.S. doesn’t pay much attention to UN garbage, thereby stripping it of much of its power. So even if the U.S. did sign the convention, it wouldn’t matter.

    Re: abortion, the point I was making is that it doesn’t condemn the abortion of innocent children, it doesn’t identify as an unborn child’s right the right to live. This would have made it quite the unique document if it did.

    —People can parade all they like in the market place saying Lord Lord – the atheist who denied His existence and who did what He said was given a place in Heaven. That’s scripture.—

    No, that’s bad hermaneutics.

    —What on earth did the Prophets have if not aspiration and vision? —

    Revelation from God of what would happen, not simply what they wanted to happen.

  7. The US Constitution says nothing about abortion either. Is it also ‘immoral’?

    Never mind hermaneutics, I am sure Jesus talks about the Righteous. And they said they didn’t know him. But he knew them. He didn’t identify them as card-carrying bible-readers or even as christians. Or as believers.

    “32And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth [his] sheep from the goats:

    33And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

    34Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

    35For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

    36Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

    37Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed [thee]? or thirsty, and gave [thee] drink?

    38When saw we thee a stranger, and took [thee] in? or naked, and clothed [thee]?

    39Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

    40And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done [it] unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done [it] unto me.”

    There’s no wriggling out of that, the Righteous are those who did this, from all nations, even united nations.

    We have a different interpretation of aspiration perhaps. I mean it not as idle dreams, or “full of words but no action”. Aspiration for me is conceived in vision but worked out through effort. And I found that out when I was in my closet, and listening.

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