1995 February 16

U.S. Signs – But Does Not Ratify – UN Convention on the Rights of the Child


The U.S. on this day signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Although U.S. representatives were very active in drafting the convention, the U.S. Senate has never ratified it. The convention provides that in all matters “the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.”

Article 13 specifically provides that “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.” Contrary to conservatives’ criticisms that the convention would undermine the family, the convention explicitly states: “Convinced that the family, as the fundamental group of society and the natural environment for the growth and well-being of all its members and particularly children, should be afforded the necessary protection and assistance so that it can fully assume its responsibilities within the community.”

The Senate has also never ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (signed by the UN on March 30, 2007) or the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (adopted by the UN on December 18, 1979).

Article 2: “States Parties shall respect and ensure the rights set forth in the present Convention to each child within their jurisdiction without discrimination of any kind, irrespective of the child’s or his or her parent’s or legal guardian’s race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status.”

Read the Convention on the Rights of the Child: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/child.asp

Learn more about childrens’ rights from Human Rights Watch here.

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