Canadians show us how it is done
Senator Barbara Boxer and Sec of State Hillary Clinton are working to get the UN CRC treaty ratified in the next 60 days. The far right Christian fascists at Home School Legal Defense Association and ParentalRights.org are pumping out reams of misinformation to the thousands of people who hang on every word they publish. In turn, members of these groups cut and paste the propaganda they receive and flood the web with propaganda. The organizations are using this issue to raise money and will rake in millions with their divisive ill advised, self serving political strategy. They actually are trying to convince people that they can amend the US Constitution to “protect” parental rights. Representative Pete Hoekstra is the prime congressional mover and he has rounded up about 60 cosponsors.
To see the truth of how the treaty is being implemented, we have an example to study of how Canada is going about the implementation process. Each article in the treaty has to be analyzed and then supporting legislation is passed to bring state law into compliance with the objectives in the treaty. Contrary to the lies of the HSLDA no group of bureaucrats in Geneva sits around dreaming up laws that control people in the states which sign the treaty.
One of the things that the UN CRC is very clear about is physical violence against children, otherwise known as spanking, swatting, or other such euphemisms. A Canadian web site explains how Canada is changing their laws to make all forms of hitting children, illegal wherever they may be. Not only that, but mental abuse is also outlawed.
Children are separate people entitled to human rights. What a concept.
Here is the preamble to the Canadian legislation:
BILL S-207 and the UN Secretary-General’s Study on Violence Against Children: Submission to Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights
The Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children urges the honourable members of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights to ensure that Canada’s international and domestic human rights obligations are brought to bear in its review of Bill S-207. In particular, the Coalition draws attention to the findings of the recent UN Secretary-General’s Study on Violence Against Children, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), and the committee’s own review of Canada’s obligations with regard to the rights of children. If these are taken into consideration, it would be difficult to find other than support for Bill S-207 and [to] move forward to ensure that Canada’s Criminal Code protects all Canadian citizens – including its youngest, smallest and most vulnerable – from all forms of violence.
Violence in its myriad forms is universally condemned under international human rights law. But corporal punishment is a form of violence that persists in the everyday lives of children worldwide. In some States, it is a sanctioned practice by government agencies and bodies (e.g., in education, justice and child welfare systems). In others, it is permitted by legislation and persists in families.
The UN Secretary-General’s Study on Violence Against Children recognizes corporal punishment as a form of violence, and asserts that violence against children administered as “discipline” or “correction” must cease to be condoned, authorized or regulated in domestic law if States are to uphold their human rights obligations.
The key messages of the Study, which are reflected in the recommendations, are:
(a) No violence against children is justifiable. Children should never receive less protection than adults.
(b) All violence against children is preventable. States must build a protective legislative environment and invest in evidence-based policies and programs to address factors that give rise to violence against children.
(c) States have the primary responsibility to uphold children’s rights to protection and access to services, and to support families’ capacity to provide children with care in a safe environment.
(d) States have the obligation to ensure accountability in every case of violence.
(e) The vulnerability of children to violence is linked to their age and evolving capacity.
(f) Children have the right to express their views, and to have these views taken into account in the implementation of policies and programs.
“The Study should mark a turning point – an end to adult justification of violence against children, whether accepted as “tradition” or disguised as “discipline”.
Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, Independent Expert, UN Secretary General’s Study on Violence Against Children
Here is the web site site where you can read more about how Canada is implementing the requirements of the convention.
A similar legislative process will take place in the United States as the various articles of the convention are implemented. The democracies of Europe are all working on implementing this treaty, not to mention dozens of countries around the world. A few countries have met all the legal requirements and have obtained the status of accession.
Here in the United States 200 religious organizations and NGOs support ratification and implementation of the UN CRC. Who is against it? The Southern Baptist Convention and the HSLDA.
Very soon the tykes up in Canada will be free of mis-informed, mis guided parents who still think they are lord and master of their domain and can do as they please to their children. That day cannot come too soon for our own children.
Countering lies and misinformation about the UN CRC
There is so much mis-information and lies being spread about the UN CRC. First of all many national religious organizations in the United States and NGOs working on behalf of children support ratification. Thousands of people around the world are working to implement the provisions of the treaty in their respective countries.
For a complete and rational analysis of the issues surrounding this convention please go to this Harvard Law school web site.
The propaganda being circulated by Parentalrights.org is meant to drive money into the hands of Washington attorneys and lobbyists. If you are going to blog about the UN CRC please get your facts straight from unbiased sources. The UNICEF page for example. Here are other sources of accurate information about child rights.
Caritas Australia—The Rights of the Child Chart
Child Rights Information Network (CRIN)
Human Rights Watch – Children’s Rights
Say it Right— A Youth Edition of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
UNICEF – Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)
UNICEF – State of the World’s Children Report 2004
UNICEF – Voices of Youth
United Nations Special Session on Children
CRIN empowers the global child rights community through the exchange of information and the promotion of children’s rights. CRIN has 2,004 member organizations. There are 17,412 information resources on the site.
THE CORRUPTION OF SCIENCE AND LAW
The following is an excerpt of an article by Chris Hedges that appears here:
The [Christian fascist] movement seeks the imprint of law and science. It must discredit the rational disciplines that are the pillars of the Enlightenment to abolish the liberal polity of the Enlightenment. This corruption of science and law is vital in promoting the doctrine. Creationism, or “intelligent design,” like Eugenics for the Nazis, must be introduced into the mainstream as a valid scientific discipline to destroy the discipline of science itself. This is why the Christian Right is working to bring test cases to ensure that school textbooks include “intelligent design” and condemn gay marriage.
The drive by the Christian Right to include crackpot theories in scientific or legal debate is part of the campaign to destroy dispassionate and honest intellectual inquiry. Facts become interchangeable with opinions. An understanding of reality is not to be based on the elaborate gathering of facts and evidence. The ideology alone is true. Facts that get in the way of the ideology can be altered. Lies, in this worldview, become true. Hannah Arendt called this effort “nihilistic relativism” although a better phrase might be collective insanity.
The Christian Right has fought successfully to have Creationist books sold in national park bookstores in the Grand Canyon, taught as a theory in public schools in states like Alabama and Arkansas. “Intelligent design” is promoted in Christian textbooks. All animal species, or at least their progenitors, students read, fit on Noah’s ark. The Grand Canyon was created a few thousand years ago by the flood that lifted up Noah’s ark, not one billion years ago, as geologists have determined. The earth is only a few thousand years old in line with the literal reading of Genesis. This is not some quaint, homespun view of the world. It is an insidious attempt to undermine rational scientific research and intellectual inquiry.
Tom Delay, following the Columbine shootings, gave voice to this assault when he said that the killings had taken place “because our school systems teach children that they are nothing but glorified apes who have evolutionized out of some primordial mud.” (speech Delay gave in the House on June 16, 1999 )
“What convinces masses are not facts,” Hannah Arendt wrote in Origins of Totalitarianism, “and not even invented facts, but only the consistency of the system which they are presumably part. Repetition, somewhat overrated in importance because of the common belief in the “masses” inferior capacity to grasp and remember, is important because it convinces them of consistency in time.” (p.351)
There are more than 6 million elementary and secondary school students attending private schools and 11.5 percent of these students attend schools run by the Christian Right. These “Christian” schools saw an increase of 46 percent in enrollment in the last decade. The 245,000 additional students accounted for 75 percent of the total rise in private school enrollment.
THE LAUNCHING OF THE WAR
Adams told us to watch closely what the Christian Right did to homosexuals. He has seen how the Nazis had used “values” to launch state repression of opponents. Hitler, days after he took power in 1933, imposed a ban on all homosexual and lesbian organizations. He ordered raids on places where homosexuals gathered culminating with the ransacking of the Institute for Sexual Science in Berlin . Thousands of volumes from the institute’s library were tossed into a bonfire. Adams said that homosexuals would also be the first “deviants” singled out by the Christian Right. We would be the next.
The ban on same sex marriages, passed by eleven states in the election, was part of this march towards our door. A 1996 federal law already defines marriage as between a man and a woman. All of the states with ballot measures, with the exception of Oregon, had outlawed same sex marriages, as do 27 other states. The bans, however, had to be passed, believers were told, to thwart “activist judges” who wanted to overturn them.
The Christian family, even the nation, was under threat. The bans served to widen the splits tearing apart the country. The attacks on homosexuals handed to the foot soldiers of the Christian Right an easy target. It gave them a taste of victory. It made them feel empowered. But it is ominous for gays and for us.
All debates with the Christian Right are useless. We cannot reach this movement. It does not want a dialogue. It cares nothing for rational thought and discussion. It is not mollified because John Kerry prays or Jimmy Carter teaches Sunday School. These naive attempts to reach out to a movement bent on our destruction, to prove to them that we too have “values,” would be humorous if the stakes were not so deadly. They hate us. They hate the liberal, enlightened world formed by the Constitution. Our opinions do not count.
This movement will not stop until we are ruled by Biblical Law, an authoritarian church intrudes in every aspect of our life, women stay at home and rear children, gays agree to be cured, abortion is considered murder, the press and the schools promote “positive” Christian values, the federal government is gutted, war becomes our primary form of communication with the rest of the world and recalcitrant non-believers see their flesh eviscerated at the sound of the Messiah’s voice.
The spark that could set it ablaze may be lying in the hands of an Islamic terrorist cell, in the hands of the ideological twins of the Christian Right. Another catastrophic terrorist attack could be our Reichstag fire, the excuse used to begin the accelerated dismantling of our open society. The ideology of the Christian Right is not one of love and compassion, the central theme of Christ’s message, but of violence and hatred. It has a strong appeal to many in our society, but it is also aided by our complacency. Let us not stand at the open city gates waiting passively and meekly for the barbarians. They are coming. They are slouching rudely towards Bethlehem. Let us, if nothing else, begin to call them by their name.
Chris Hedges, a reporter for The New York Times, is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning . He holds a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School . His next book , Losing Moses on the Freeway: America ‘s Broken Covenant With The Ten Commandments is published by The Free Press.
Note from Joan Bokaer – Chris refers to a memo I received in Iowa from Pat Robertson’s organization. The year was 1986 — two years before his presidential bid, and three years before the Christian Coalition was formed.
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- Max Blumenthal: Remembering Paul Weyrich (huffingtonpost.com)
Theists in Foxholes
I’ve been gnawing on a rather gristly thought for the last couple of days, and I think I’ve finally broken it down into something manageable. The Friendly Atheist posted a brief blog about an atheist who was attacked and stabbed by a knife wielding assailant. The man did not cry out to god, nor did he have any kind of flashback of his life. No, he did what I believe most people would do. He defended himself with all he had in him. He kicked and fought and tried desperately to stay alive.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this little story in the context of evolutionary biology. Perhaps yesterday’s post dealing with the evolutionary origins of fear was a subconscious effort on my part to put all the pieces in place. Now, don’t take this blog too seriously — it’s just me thinking aloud more than anything else — but I’m beginning to suspect that there may not be any theists in foxholes.
Theists are fond of trotting out the old argument that when death is on the line and we are facing our own mortality, our innate reaction is to seek out God. I suggest that science tells us otherwise. When the face of death is immenent, we most certainly do not pray. Our innate survival instincts kick in, and we do anything and everything we can to stay alive. In fact, it’s very commonly reported that people who were struggling to survive did not consciously think anything at all, but rather just acted. Sometimes, they have a very hard time even remembering what they did, and in what order. Instinct takes precedence over intellect when only instinct can save us.
Yeah, I know… that’s not really what theists mean. They mean that when we are facing death and have the time to think about it, we innately turn to God. Well, I don’t see any evidence of that, either. When I was talking about hell, I mentioned that the threat of hell is only effective on people who already believe it’s a real threat. I believe it’s the same with God. For those of us who see no evidence for a god, and realize that the concept itself is an epistemological absurdity, turning to God at the end of our life would be the equivalent of calling out to David Copperfield to perform a magic trick and keep us alive. Just like hell, the concept of “no atheists in foxholes” only has any meaning to theists. To us atheists, it’s a bunch of hooey.
One more thing is tickling my brain: If God is so super-awesome, and is all about performing miracles, why didn’t he program us with an innate “pray” instinct for when death is imminent? It’s all fine and dandy for us to pray when we have a day, or an hour, or a week, until we die. There’s still time. But when we’re going to die in a few instants, isn’t that when we need God the most? If he’s so loving, why’d he program our minds to shut down just when we ought to be asking forgiveness?
No, the answer is that theists only have the luxury of theism when their life isn’t really on the line… at least, not this instant. I think perhaps there are no theists in foxholes.
United Nations Wants To Regulate Free Speech Of Every Nation
Children’s Rights & American Christianity « Signs of Our Times
Children’s Rights & American Christianity
January 10, 2009 by ourtimes
Sections on this page…
Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC):
* Support From Major U.S. Churches.
The U.S. Child Rights Campaign.
Opposition to children’s rights:
Articles in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which have provoked opposition.
Many of the largest religious groups in the USA have stated their position on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child on their websites. From those that have done so, all except one support it. On this page you will find links to official Statements and Resolutions from church organizations.
The first article in this series pointed out that the United States of America has not ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Support for Children’s Rights from Major U.S. Churches
Data on religious affiliations are not part of the national census, but the website provides links to resources:
. The membership figures for each denomination in the table below are from the Hartford Institute for Religion Research website. The first 3 are the largest in the United States. Around 51% of the total population are Protestant (source).
Go to the web site for more information.
Rights For Our Future: The New Child Health Insurance Bill Provides Momentum for the Systemic Reform of Child Rights in the US
In last year’s campaign for the U.S. Presidency, Barack Obama admirably deemed himself as “a champion for children.” Given his recent child advocacy plan, he has begun to show a serious intention to live up to that title. In the plan, he has promised that every child will be granted health insurance. The plan will also expand educational opportunities for children in low-income families, extend other necessary resources for these families, support and supplement the foster care system, and provide better protections for children within the U.S. from violence and neglect.
Article 24 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) states that it is the right of a child to enjoy the highest attainable standards of health. Consistent with this crucial Convention, on February 4, 2009 President Obama signed the Children’s Health Insurance Bill. The recently passed Child Health Insurance Bill expands the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to increase coverage to 11.1 million children. Currently SCHIP provides coverage for 7 million children who are otherwise ineligible to receive Medicaid. This action is in line with an eventual goal to secure health insurance for every child within the U.S.
Harvard Law analysis of UN CRC
VI. Refutation of Views Opposing the Convention on the Rights of the Child
As already explicated, previous attempts by the United States to ratify the CRC have proved vastly unsuccessful. However, current events, recent judicial decisions, and the international political climate all support a renewed effort to ratify the CRC. Moreover, the current state of children’s health and development demands that the United States pay closer attention to the inherent human rights of each child.
A. Responses to Sovereignty Concerns
Although sovereignty concerns are frequently cited as a reason to avoid U.S. ratification of human rights treaties, the manner in which these sovereignty concerns are framed must be considered. Detractors of the CRC and other international treaties believe that being subject to international law infringes on U.S. sovereignty. However, the United States can only be bound by international law through the exercise of its own legislative processes. In order for the United States to become a party to an international agreement, “a domestic decision-maker [e.g., the Senate]” must accept the agreement
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and “conclude[ ] that a non-U.S. rule should be a rule of decision within the United States.” It is entirely possible that a domestic institution will decide that the United States’ interests, both at home and abroad, are best served by ratifying a treaty or entering a trade agreement. Such a determination can be viewed “as the result[ ] of an exercise of sovereignty, not as evidence of a lapse of sovereignty.” After all,
[A] sovereign nation can decide that its sovereign interests are advanced . . . by making agreements with other nations that limit what it can otherwise do. . . . Even more, a sovereign nation can decide that its sovereign interests are advanced . . . by agreeing with other nations to delegate interpretive authority over treaties to some supranational body.
A sovereign nation’s authority and ultimate success derive, in part, from recognizing when a multilateral or bilateral agreement promotes that nation’s political, economic, or humanitarian interests. The agreement may limit a nation’s sovereignty in a specific area, but it is a sovereign nation’s prerogative to determine when such a trade-off is beneficial.
In addition, several recent Supreme Court decisions demonstrated that certain justices are willing to consider international law and the laws and practices of other nations when drafting their opinions. For example, in Grutter v. Bollinger, a case sustaining the University of Michigan Law School’s “narrowly tailored use of race in admissions decisions,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s concurring opinion cited the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination as an example of how the majority’s “observation that race-conscious programs ‘must have a logical endpoint’ . . . accords with the international understanding of the office of affirmative action.” A few days later, in Lawrence v. Texas, which held that a Texas statute
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prohibiting sexual contact between consenting adults of the same sex was unconstitutional, Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, noted that other nations also recognized the right of homosexual adults to engage in consensual, intimate contact:
To the extent that Bowers [v. Hardwick] relied on values we share with a wider civilization, it should be noted that the reasoning and holding in Bowers have been rejected elsewhere. The European Court of Human Rights has followed not Bowers but its own decision in Dudgeon v. United Kingdom . . . . Other nations, too, have taken action consistent with an affirmation of the protected right of homosexual adults to engage in intimate, consensual conduct. The right the petitioners seek in this case has been accepted as an integral part of human freedom in many other countries. There has been no showing that in this country the governmental interest in circumscribing personal choice is somehow more legitimate or urgent.
Even more recently, in Roper v. Simmons, Justice Kennedy noted in his majority opinion, striking down the use of the death penalty on individuals convicted of capital crimes that they committed when they were juveniles, that “[i]t is proper that we acknowledge the overwhelming weight of international opinion against the juvenile death penalty . . . .” While, of course, these developments do not alter U.S. sovereignty, they do show a growing recognition of the interconnectedness of the world’s nations and an acknowledgement that the laws and practices of other nations can influence domestic law.
B. Responses to Federalism Concerns
Arguments that the CRC, if ratified by the United States, will upset the balance between the states and the federal government and violate the Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution can be refuted both by the current state of the law and contemporary U.S. practice. First, federalism objections to the CRC are essentially negated by Missouri’s holding that the treaty power gives the U.S. government authority over the states that is otherwise prohibited by the Constitution.
In addition, the United States has several policies in place to ensure that ratification of international agreements does not impair federalism. First, U.S. ratifications of international treaties are accompanied by reservations,
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declarations, and understandings (“RUDs”) that “severely limit the[ ] application [of human rights treaties] in the United States.” This package of RUDs traditionally includes a federalism clause, with the idea that “the United States could leave implementation [of the treaty] largely to the states.” This seeming contravention of the Missouri decision is reinforced by the “the policy of the United States, when ratifying human rights treaties, that those treaties [ ] make no significant changes to the American legal system.”
To further ensure that human rights treaties do not significantly alter its federal structure, the United States has declared that the human rights treaties it ratifies are non-self-executing, meaning that U.S.-ratified treaties do not automatically have legal force, “but must be implemented by legislative or other measures.” This non-self-execution is designed to deny judges in the United States the ability to decide cases based upon the international standards created in human rights treaties. Opponents of the non-self-executing clause believe that the clause undermines the seriousness with which the United States should approach human rights issues.
In addition to these general concerns, as already mentioned, one of the United States’ primary reasons for failing to ratify the CRC is because of the CRC’s prohibition on juvenile executions. Until March 1, 2005, this provision conflicted with U.S. law because the U.S. Supreme Court held in Stanford v. Kentucky that there was “neither a historical nor a modern societal consensus forbidding the imposition of capital punishment on any person who murders at 16 or 17 years of age . . . . [S]uch punishment does not offend the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual pun-
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ishment.” Thirteen years later, however, in Atkins v. Virginia, the Court outlawed capital punishment for the mentally retarded. The Court held that “in the light of our ‘evolving standards of decency,’ . . . [capital] punishment is excessive and . . . the Constitution ‘places a substantive restriction on the State’s power to take the life’ of a mentally retarded offender.”
In March 2005, in its landmark decision in Roper v. Simmons, the Court sought to resolve the seeming inconsistency between Stanford and Atkins. Christopher Simmons had planned and committed a capital murder when he was seventeen years old. After his eighteenth birthday, a Missouri court sentenced him to death for the crime and the state’s Supreme Court affirmed the decision in 1997. After the Atkins case came down, Simmons filed a new petition for post-conviction relief with the state of Missouri. After the Missouri Supreme Court reevaluated Simmons’s case in light of Atkins and determined that “a national consensus has developed against the execution of juvenile offenders,” the Supreme Court accepted the case on appeal to evaluate the juvenile death penalty under the Eighth Amendment.
The Eighth Amendment, made applicable to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment, prohibits “cruel and unusual punishments.” In Roper, the Court explained that the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment “must be interpreted according to its text, by considering h; contemporary practices regarding juvenile executions. It found that in the last ten years, only three states—Oklahoma, Texas, and Virginia—executed people for crimes they committed while juveniles. The Court also noted that since its Stanford decision, “no State that previously prohibited capital punishment for juveniles has reinstated it. This fact, coupled with the trend toward abolition of the juvenile death penalty, carries special force . . . in light of the
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particular trend in recent years toward cracking down on juvenile crime in other respects.” The Court recognized this trend as part of a growing national consensus that “our society views juveniles . . . as ‘categorically less culpable than the average criminal.’”
The Court stated that the differences between juveniles and adults are such “that juvenile offenders cannot with reliability be classified among the worst offenders.” First, the Court recognized “the comparative immaturity and irresponsibility of juveniles” that results in almost every State prohibiting “those under 18 years of age from voting, serving on juries, or marrying without parental consent.” The Court also found that juveniles are “more vulnerable or susceptible to negative influences and outside pressures, including peer pressure.” Finally, the Court recognized that “the character of a juvenile is not as well formed as that of an adult. The personality traits of juveniles are more transitory, less fixed.” The Court relied on these differences between juveniles and adults to hold that “it is less supportable to conclude that even a heinous crime committed by a juvenile is evidence of irretrievably depraved character.” In light of these observations, the Court pointed out that the two main justifications for the death penalty—retribution and deterrence—would not be achieved by imposing the death penalty on juvenile offenders.
Finally, the Court recognized that the United States is “the only country in the world that continues to give official sanction to the juvenile death penalty.” The Court explained that while this observation is not controlling, it “referred to the laws of other countries and to international authorities as instructive for its interpretation of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of ‘cruel and unusual punishments.’” In particular, the Court emphasized the CRC’s provision prohibiting the use of capital punishment against juvenile offenders. The Court went so far as to state that “the United States now stands alone in a world that has turned its face against the juvenile death penalty.”
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In light of the Supreme Court’s definitive holding in Roper prohibiting capital punishment for capital crimes committed by juveniles, the CRC’s prohibition on juvenile execution can no longer be cited as a reason for postponing U.S. ratification of the treaty.
C. Responses to Reproductive and Family Planning Concerns
The CRC does not take a position on family planning or abortion issues. Most observers assume that the CRC’s authors deliberately left the CRC’s provisions on family planning open to interpretation by each of the ratifying States Parties. Thus, the CRC provisions may be interpreted as recognizing a fetus as a child in need of protection. Although the CRC defines a child as a “human being below the age of eighteen years,” the CRC does not establish when childhood begins. Although an individual eighteen years or older is not a “child” under the CRC, the CRC does not set a floor at which childhood starts. This omission, coupled with the statement in the CRC’s preamble that “[t]he child needs special safeguards and care . . . before as well as after birth,” allows nations who ratify the CRC to interpret Article 6’s “inherent right to life” clause as applying to fetuses. Regardless of other nations’ interpretations, U.S. law does allow the practice of abortion. Because the CRC does not violate any U.S. abortion or family planning law, its ratification by the United States would not result in any conflict between U.S. domestic policy and international law.
D. Responses to Parents’ Rights Concerns
A careful parsing of the CRC reveals that objections to it based on parental rights arguments misconstrue the CRC’s intentions. Critics often claim
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that the CRC’s “participatory” rights grant autonomy rights to children that are best controlled by parents.
Yet, early on, the CRC states that the family is the “fundamental group of society” and that “parents have common responsibilities for the upbringing and development of the child.” Articles 12 and 13 of the CRC focus on children’s right to freedom of expression. However, Article 13 describes specific restrictions to this freedom, including a restriction “[f]or the protection of . . . morals.” The term “morals” is not defined in the CRC, which allows each States Party to interpret the term.
Article 14 grants a child the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion. These are rights that are similar to those guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution to every American. Part two of Article 14 guarantees to parents the right to raise their children in accordance with the parents’ religious beliefs, explaining that States Parties “shall respect the right and duties of the parents . . . to provide direction to the child in the exercise of his or her right . . . .”
The past decade has seen a rapid increase in the number of parents who use electronic devices or services to control the content their children see on television and through other mass media forums. Although this may appear to conflict with Article 17 of the CRC, which grants children the right to “access information and material from a diversity of national and international sources, especially those aimed at the promotion of his or her social, spiritual and moral well-being and physical and mental health,” Article 17’s intention is only to allow a child to access helpful information. For example, the CRC encourages the media to produce “material of social and cultural bene-fit” and encourages “the development of appropriate guidelines for the protection of the child from information and material injurious to his or her
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well-being.” The CRC makes no suggestion on what the “appropriate guidelines” should be, leaving this task to the States Parties that ratify the CRC.
These provisions make clear that the intention of Article 17 is not to provide children with a justification for demanding access to illicit or distasteful media, but rather to aid children in accessing materials that are beneficial to their development.
VII. Why Ratify Now?
Over the last several years, the United States has come under intense scrutiny from domestic and international media and from international governments and their citizens for its policies on U.S. military deployment to Iraq. These policies were criticized as being unilateral and as being developed without any heed to the views of the United States’ historical allies. Due to the U.N.’s opposition to the U.S.-led invasion in Iraq, the relationship between the two bodies deteriorated with U.S. officials deeming the United Nations an irrelevant organization. Although the United States has back-pedaled on this last point in the past year, U.S. ratification of the CRC now would be a well-timed show of support for the United Nations.
The political capital for supporting many of the provisions of the CRC is evident in current domestic legislation. For example, U.S. public opinion polls consistently show a strong desire for improved education and health care systems. Currently, eighteen states have bills in their legislatures to provide for universal health care coverage. The bi-partisan No Child Left Behind Act was signed into law in January 2002 by President Bush, with the goal of providing a quality education to the most underserved children.
The events of the past decade provide further reasons why the time has come for the United States to proclaim its support for the CRC to the international community. The 1990s saw large-scale human rights violations due to intra- and international conflicts in which millions of children lost their lives. Massive human rights violations against children occurred in Bosnia-
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Herzegovena, Chechnya, Rwanda, and the Sudan, among others, in the past decade alone. Given these occurrences, the need for passage of the CRC is as critical as ever. Ratification of the CRC by the world’s only superpower, will give a needed boost to the enforcement of human rights law. This Article argues that the United States’ ratification of the CRC will, as it has done with other treaties, give greater credence and international support to its principles. Ratification will commit the United States and the world to better protection and promotion of the health, welfare, and security of children.
In 1995 the United States signed the CRC, indicating its intent to support the CRC and pursue its ratification. Ten years later, children, domestically and around the world, continue to face human rights violations. Until last year, the United States remained the sole country in the world to condone the practice of execution for capital crimes committed by juveniles. Even after the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Roper, the United States continues to stand alone as the only self-governed nation to withhold ratification of the CRC. The United States should now reconsider action toward improving children’s human rights. No member of the U.S. Congress has called for ratification of the CRC since 1997. The analysis of legal, political, and social factors above suggests that a window of opportunity has arrived for the United States to demonstrate its commitment to human rights and children’s rights by joining the rest of the world and ratifying the CRC. To that end, this Article proposes that Congress call on the President to seek advice and consent of the Senate for ratification of the CRC. Attached to this Article is a proposed resolution urging the President to seek advice and consent for ratification. The time has come for Congress to follow the original intent behind the U.S. signature on the CRC with ratification, and, in doing so, make a definitive statement about this nation’s commitment to human rights.
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Urging the President to submit the Convention on the Rights of the Child to the Senate for its advice and consent to ratification.
Whereas it has been ten years since the United States signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child and children both at home and around the world remain vulnerable and continue to suffer human rights violations every day;[i] and
Whereas there are currently over 73,000,000 children under age eighteen living in the United States and children constitute approximately twenty-five percent of the U.S. population;[ii] and
Whereas more than 1.5 million children have been killed in armed conflict worldwide since 1990;[iii] and
Whereas one in seven children worldwide is denied access to any health care;[iv] and
Whereas every year two million children around the world are exploited as part of the commercial sex industry;[v] and
Whereas every self-governed country in the world, with the exception of the United States, has proclaimed its commitment to upholding and enforcing children’s rights by ratifying the Convention on the Rights of the Child;[vi]
Resolved, that the United States accepts the general principles of Article 37(a). The United States submits the Convention on the Rights of the Child for ratification with reservation for the United States to continue imposing the penalty of life imprisonment without possibility of release to juveniles for certain crimes. The United States, therefore, ratifies the Convention on the Rights of the Child to the extent that it is able to comply with Article 37(a).
Resolved, that it is the sense of the Senate/House of Representatives that the President should promptly seek the advice and consent of the Senate to ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly with the support of the United States on November 20, 1989.
[*] Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Health Policy & Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; M.P.H., Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2005; J.D., New York University School of Law, 2004; B.A., Yale University, 1999.
[**] M.P.H., Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2005; M.B.A., Johns Hopkins University, 2005; B.A., Dartmouth College, 2001.
[***] The authors would like to thank Stephen Teret and the staff of the Harvard Human Rights Journal.
. See, e.g., Editorial, Endangered Children, Balt. Sun, Jan. 1, 2005, at 12A; Lydia Polgreen, Civilians Bear Brunt of the Continuing Violence in Darfur, N.Y. Times, Jan. 22, 2005, at A3; Press Release, Human Rights Watch, Côte d’Ivoire: Ex-Child Soldiers Recruited for War (Mar. 31, 2005).
. UNICEF is the U.N. body charged with “advocat[ing] for the protection of children’s rights, to help meet their basic needs and to expand their opportunities to reach their full potential.” UNICEF, Mission Statement, http://www.unicef.org/about/who/index_mission.html (last visited Feb. 15, 2006).
Christian fascists oppose Ogden Nomination
Here is an advisory sent to the members of HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association). They continue to spread lies and deception about the UN CRC.
HSLDA: Senate Judiciary Committee
to Vote on Ogden Nomination–Calls Needed
Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:
The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on David Ogden’s confirmation for deputy attorney general on Thursday, February 26. We previously informed you that Ogden has been nominated by President Obama to the second highest position in the Justice Department.
Home School Legal Defense Association urges you to immediately contact your U.S. senator who is on the committee, as listed below, and voice your opposition to Ogden’s confirmation.
The most important reason to oppose Ogden’s nomination is his belief that the rules found in the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6077 ) are already binding on the United States under the doctrines of international law.
For background information on this doctrine, see Michael Farris’ article, “A Deeper Understanding of the Threat of International Law” (http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6078 ) in the November/December 2007 Home School Court Report.
This means Ogden believes that the legal rules contained in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child are already binding on the United States, even though this treaty has never been sent to the U.S. Senate for ratification.
Homeschoolers have long understood the dangers of this international treaty, which contains the core principle that the government is primarily responsible for the education and upbringing of children, not the parents. Ogden used this U.N. treaty in a Supreme Court brief to reach the conclusion that America’s courts can overrule state law, using international law as their guidepost for constitutional interpretation. And Ogden successfully argued this philosophy to the highest court in the land.
Clearly, Ogden is a proven advocate for the harmful position that international law should be used to interpret the Constitution of the United States and be controlling over state laws.
If this weren’t enough, Ogden has a history of representing Playboy and other purveyors of pornography in high-profile legal cases. He also challenged the legality of using filters on library computers to protect children from seeing pornography. His record prompts many to question whether Ogden would enforce the nation’s pornography laws, as would be part of his job description as deputy attorney general.
The U.S. Senate needs to understand that the American public does not approve of officials who believe that international law trumps American law written by representatives elected by the American people.
Please call your senator today to register your opposition to David Ogden.
You can also use our Legislative Toolbox to contact your senator:
SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE MEMBERS
Patrick J. Leahy
Ranking Member, R-Pennsylvania
Orrin G. Hatch
Russell D. Feingold
Charles E. Grassley
Charles E. Schumer
Richard J. Durbin
Benjamin L. Cardin
Edward E. Kaufman
J. Michael Smith
We can call our senators and ask them to vote yes on the Ogden Nomination. Thanks to HSLDA we have the phone numbers right here.
For accurate information on the UN CRC refer to the official UN web page or the Harvard study I posted previously. I will be listing that study in our discussion forum for future reference. HSLDA and Parentsrights.org are closely associated as is Patrick Henry College. They are all part of a scheme to make it possible for Christian fascists to keep their children out of the public schools and brainwash them at home 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Children trapped in their miserable parents clutches are not allowed any freedom to investigate the world. No video, no movies, no music, books or magazines are given to them except the ones approved by parents. They are unable to make friends with any other children except from families like theirs. It is cruel and a horrible crime against these children. As many as 1.5 million may be trapped by their despicable parents.
These sham schools must be closed down and the parents should be prosecuted for emotional abuse.
Camp Quest West news
Camp Quest West — summer camp for children of atheists, humanists and other non-religious types affiliated with national Camp Quest is “doubling down” on marketing this year. We gotta get the “good word” out there! We know there’s lots of non-religious families in the bay area who still want their kids to have “the all American camp experience”. That’s where we come in
We’ve got a booth at the San Jose Camp Fair in Westgate Mall on Sat March 7 and in San Francisco (8th & Brennan) on Sat March 14.
We’re looking for a few freethinking types who’d like to promote fun & freethought! We’ll teach you how to spin the Big Wheel of Science. If you’ve got a few hours on either of those days, give me a holler & we’ll sign you up to help out with all the other cool kids
chris @ camp-quest.org
Camp Quest West, Camp Director
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