In 1989, the United Nations adopted the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Since that time, all of the member countries of the UN have adopted it except for the United States and Somalia. President Obama has said that he would review this issue during his administration.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child is an international convention of 54 articles stating the rights of children under the age of 18 in the countries which have adopted the convention. Most of the items are benign and common-sense: children have the right to life (Article 6), children have the right to an education (Article 28), children have the right to a name (Article 7). Others are more controversial: children shall have freedom of expression only limited by concerns of national security or the rights of others (Article 13), children shall have freedom of assembly limited only by the interests of public safety or public order (Article 15), children shall have the right to privacy even in their own home (Article 16), children have the right to social security and social insurance (Article 26).
During the Clinton administration, Madeleine Albright signed this treaty, but it has not yet been ratified by the 2/3 of the U.S. Senate required to put it into effect. Under our Constitution, a treaty automatically supercedes all other laws, federal and state. In this country, most of the laws regarding families, children, and welfare are made at the state level. If this treaty is ratified, all of those laws would be replaced by this treaty.
There is serious concern, also, about the parts of the treaty guaranteeing children freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. There is absolutely no discussion of parental authority over children’s activities. Although the treaty talks a great deal about the importance of families and parents, there is discussion mostly about parents’ role as advisors, not as authority figures.
Another area of concern is Article 26 which states that children have the right to social security and social insurance. Our government is democratic and our economy is capitalistic. Guaranteeing economic security is the role of a socialistic government, which is not part of our economic or governing system.
Basically, this Convention threatens our rights as parents to direct the upbringing of our children as we see fit. If it is ratified, there is no recourse. It will automatically take the place of all other laws, both federal and state, that govern the interactions of family and state.
What can we do? The first thing to do is to pray. God is in control of all of this, so we don’t need to worry, but we must pray that His will is done in everything. Then we need to learn more about this treaty. The text of the Convention can be found here. Parentalrights.org is an organization that is devoted to “Protecting Children by Empowering Parents.” Wikipedia has an entry with more details about the treaty itself. The Campaign for US Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child is an organization that is supporting the ratification.
The treaty has not yet come to the Senate to ratification, but we can and should let our Senators know our feelings on this matter by a phone call or email. You can also join Parentalrights.org by signing their petition and considering their argument for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to codify parents’ rights. Of course, if you agree that this U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child is a bad idea for American families, then please tell your friends and neighbors and encourage them to get involved as well.
It is important, though, that we remember not to get discouraged whatever happens in this struggle for families. Jesus told us that “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have over come the world.” Notice that he doesn’t say, “I have overcome the world as long as the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child doesn’t pass” or “I have overcome the world as long as American families are doing OK.” He has overcome the world. Period.
Paul tells us “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guards your heats and your minds in Christ Jesus.” We are not to be anxious, but to pray. Through all of this, God tells us to be obedient, to pray, and to accept His peace.