U.S. Has Not Signed the U.N. Convention Term Paper

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U.S. has not Signed the U.N. Convention Treaty on the Rights of Children

This paper presents a detailed examination of the Treaty on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children. The writer explores the treaty and the nations that have signed it. The writer than delves into some of the reasons the United States has not signed it. This paper is written from a legal standpoint therefore there are discussions about jurisdictional issues as well as other legal points of interest. There were five sources used to complete this paper.

Why the U.S. hasn't signed the U.N. Convention treaty on the Rights of the Child

Worldwide globalization efforts are moving forward in almost all aspects of society. There are better communications abilities; more integrated business dealings and nations are beginning to embrace the traditions and cultures of those across the ocean. As the walls of difference come down the world has been able to observe the way each nation treats and reacts to children. Living in America, people often get a false sense of security when it comes to the treatment of children. If one abuses a child, one stands a chance of going to jail. Children in America are protected from having to work at a young age and they are provided with a government sanctioned, mandated and uniform education. While America might not be the perfect village for the raising of its children it does provide for and try to protect them from harm. When one lives in the states it might be hard for them to imagine that children everywhere are not afforded the same protection and rights that they are in the U.S. Children in other nations are often brutalized, taken advantage of and neglected. It is not always as obvious as the Feed The Children commercials on television. There are times it is insidious, generational and deliberate. The United Nations works with hundreds of nations to standardize and ratify the human treatment of the residents of its members. While each nation is encouraged to preserve its cultural traditions and national "DNA," the United Nations does expect that all of its members will treat their most priceless commodity, their children with compassion and decency. The ever improving ability to communicate has brought to light some very disturbing allegations about the way children are being treated in some nations. The United Nations treaty on the Convention on the Rights of Children was developed as a tool to provide a standard and team approach to children world wide. To the surprise of many powerful nations worldwide the United States has steadfastedly refused to add its signature to the treaty. This has presented some concern to worldwide historians and experts as the United States is commonly looked to as a role model for other nations to follow. The United States is one of only two nations world wide which makes its refusal to sign even more curious. While the United Nations continues to encourage the United States to sign the treaty there are several reasons that the U.S. has thus far refused to do so. The treaty makes sense, it protects children world wide and it allows for the continued respect of parental rights. It is time for the United States to rethink its refusal. The reasons are valid and the signature on the treaty might impede the nation's efforts to improve conditions for children around the globe.


Before one can begin to make an informed decision about the U.S. refusal to sign the treaty it is important to understand the treaty and its purpose and content. The Convention on the Rights of the Child was designed by the United Nations as the first legally binding instrument that is meant to incorporate human rights. The design works to incorporate human rights in a broad-based range that include many areas including economics, political rights, social rights and cultural rights. After the Convention was developed two additions called optional protocols were added. These dealt with child pornography or prostitution, and the sale of children or the use of children in armed conflict. The Convention views children as individuals and as such believes that each child is afforded human decency and full rights as to the way they will be treated. The Convention does not recognize children as objects, property or owned by their parents. While the Convention does not believe that children are property it
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does mandate that each state that signs their agreement with it, recognize parental rights to raise their children as they see fit as long as abuse and neglect are not part of the picture.

WHY IS TREATY NEEDED (Winfield, 1999)

The treaty has a strong base of support. It standardizes the treatment of children worldwide and provide guidelines for each singing member to develop rules and laws to follow regarding the treatment of children.

Until the Convention there has not been a standardized plan of action for the treatment of children. Each nation made its own decisions. This meant that in some nations children were treated as children and cherished as the future of the nation, while in other nations they were treated ads labor robots. Child abuse was not illegal in some nations while in others it was. It became an interesting bone of contention for many who are members of the UN because the UN does decide how war participants will treat each other. There are rules of conduct for war, and prisoners of war, but there was not standard conduct guidance in the treatment of the world's most precious commodity, children.

In addition the time has come to standardize the treatment of children because of the globalization that has been occurring worldwide for the past decade. With the barriers between nations coming down and people becoming more mobile than ever before children are moving about the globe with parents who are transferred and conducting business.

Children neither start wars nor perpetrate them. They should not pay the price for adults' wars," said the deputy British Ambassador Stuart Eldon in announcing more than a half million dollars to support U.N. projects for children affected by wars. U.N. figures show more than 300,000 children under 18 are known to be currently under arms around the world, in places such as Sudan, Colombia, Angola, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. In most of these countries, children under 15 -- and even as young as seven or eight -- have reportedly been taking part in armed conflicts.In the last decade, 2 million children have been killed, 1 million orphaned, 6 million seriously injured or disabled and 12 million made homeless because of war. "

WHY WON't THE U.S. SIGN? (Sign, 1999)

For the last ten years the United States has refused to sign the Convention treaty. At first glance many blame former president Clinton for not presenting it to Congress, however he may have had good reason. The Foreign Relations Committee took the stance that signing it would prove incompatible with the right of parents to raise their children as they see fit. According to experts the treaty has spurned many of the 191 signed nations to pass new laws regarding the treatment of children. The treaty dictates the respect of the parental rights but the U.S. foreign committee believed it was an unnecessary document.


There are many good reasons for the U.S. To sign the treaty. One of the concerns those who are against the treaty bring forth is the chance for the treaty to override the U.S. laws. This cannot happen as the law in the United States will superscede any treaty law, by-law or amendment. The treaty signing will simply be a public and worldwide show of support for the humane treament of children. The treaty asks for nothing that the states are not already providing for its children. While many other nations are not treating their children with the dignities mandated in the treaty, there is nothing written into the treaty that would change the way the United States is already treating children. Children are not allowed to fight in combat in the treaty, but in the United States that is already the law. Children are not allowed to be put to work in the treaty, and in the U.S. that is already restricted. The treaty calls for efforts to be made not only by the parents but also for the governments to provide food, warmth and shelter for its children. The United States has a welfare system in place that does exactly that already. From a legal standpoint there may be concerns about the treaty that have not been addressed, but the important thing to remember is that the United States laws would and will supersceed any text or mandate within the treaty.

Another concern the U.S. has about signing the treaty is that if it signs the treaty and then treaty gets changed in ways the United States does not approve…

Sources Used in Documents:

Robert Dennis, U.S. should ratify children's treaty., The Dallas Morning News, 12-29-1997, pp 13A.

NICOLE WINFIELD, Associated Press Writer, UN Debates Childrens' Plight in War., AP Online, 08-25-1999.

Author not available, The world's children / / Why won't the U.S. sign their treaty?., Minneapolis Star Tribune, 11-20-1999, pp 26A.

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