Child Rights

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Assembly in

December of 1948, is one of the greatest and most challenging concerns

to emerge as a worldwide issue, Yet, when one-third of the world

population consists of children under eighteen years of age, the issue

of Child Rights seems not only extremely important, but an issue that

needs immediate attention. There is no way to thoroughly evaluate the

various ways in which children around the world are economically

exploited and physically mistreated. In Robert F. Drinan's, The

Mobilization of Shame he noted, "whatever rights children have had

were subordinated to the rights of their parents or guardians."

(Drinan, p.45). The issue of human rights for children was neglected

from 1945 until the 1980s. This lack of attention only further proves

the greater necessity to address this issue today. The force of the

movement emerged in a powerful way when a nongovernmental organization

(NGO) convinced the UN to support the Convention on the Rights of the

Child in 1989.

This Convention, which is still relatively young,

surprisingly attracted more signatures in a shorter time than any

other UN convention on human rights. Drinan pointed out the fact that

the United States and Somalia were among those countries that failed

to ratify, Somalia did not have a governing body to do so at the time.

The United States does comply with many of the articles, but did not

ratify it due to opposition by conservative groups who believe it is

'anti-family'. As of 2006, it has been ratified by 192 out of 200

countries. (Nickel, p.178)

UNICEF was established in 1999 and was fully dedicated to the basic

education of children, A dire need existed as," Nearly one-fifth of

humanity are functionally illiterate as a new millennium begins,"

(Drinan, p.47) This statistic, is not only mind- blowing, but

highlights the failure of focus on the younger generations throughout

the world. In addition, "130 million children had no access to even

gain a basic education." (Drinan , p.47) Countries who struggled

economically faced this issue head on by borrowing money from leading

and superior countries in the western area of the globe. When

investigating forty of the poorest countries, Drinan mentioned how

perhaps it is not the fact they do not want to afford children these

privileges, but rather they cannot physically complete all the duties

under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. These countries

simply asked that they be granted forgiveness of the loans so that

they could successfully carry out their obligations to there eighteen

and under population. A number of NGOs devoted to improving this cause

now grant significant resources for these children. Drinan also

touched on the subject of child labor working in sweatshops to

manufacture consumer items. President Clinton addressed this issue and

mandated a federal law for the government to purchase products only

after it had been verified that child labor was not used in their

production. Drinan additionally cited the growing concern for child

soldiers, child poverty, child abuse, as well as their political

rights. When this book was published in 2001, child poverty, which is

unpredictably highest among developed countries in the United States,

was at an all time high of 20.4 per cent, rising from 14.7 per cent in

1979. Child murders doubled in the 1980s and teenage suicide had

doubled over the past twenty years. 110 babies died each day, (Drinan,

p.50) these shocking statistics affect me greatly, especially as an

eighteen year-old myself, and make me question our nation's commitment

to children. After reading this chapter, which discussed the countless

issues involving child rights, the .UN Convention on the Rights of the

Child seems unable to protect the rights of the three billion children

in our world. In 1924, The League of Nations declared, "A child that

is hungry should be fed; the child that is sick should be helped… and

the orphaned and the homeless child should be sheltered and succored."

(Drinan, p.50) By 2001, 192 nations have made it their duty to love

their children by granting them their rights. Although it is the vast

majority, I pray that these countries keep their word for the future

of humanity.

2. Over the past six years since the publication of Robert Drinan's

book, many of the issues outlined have not improved, and in reality

some statistics have become worse. The United Nation's website

mentions how the numbers have increased in child exploitation as

laborers, prostitutes, and even soldiers. In the past years an

estimated two million children have been killed in armed war. (United

Nations) As American's attention is focused on the war against

terror, we witness an increasing number of children used as suicide

bombers because they are usually not suspected.. In the diamond trade,

so-called 'blood diamonds', use children who are recruited and trained

to become aggressors and to even kill. With regard to the issue of

child labor, the United Nation cites that currently eighty million

children under fifteen years of age are working as manual laborers.

While one million of those are located in Asia, a surprising 300,000

reside in the 'superior' nation of the United States. (United Nations)

There has been some improvement in trends that had been increasing

at alarming rates. For example, infant homicides rose from 4.3 per

100,000 in 1970 to 9.2 per 100,00 in 2000, and then fell to 7.5 per

100,000 in 2002, only to rise again to 8.0 per 100,000 in 2004.

(Children Data Bank) From 1970 to 1993, the homicide rate for teens

(15 to 19 years of age) doubled from 8.1 per 100,000 to 20.7 per

100,000 respectively. These numbers dramatically decreased to 9.3 per

100,000 in 2002, while showing a slight rise to 9.5 per 100,000 in

2003. Teen suicides increased from 5.9 per 100,000 in 1970 to 11.1

per 100,000 in 1994, Fortunately, the rate fell to 7.3 per 100,000 in

2003, Child poverty, which reached 20,4 per cent in 2001, fell to 16.7

per cent (12,1 million children) in 2002, only to rise again to 17.6

per cent (12.9 million children) in 2003. (Children Data Bank)

Although these data are still unacceptably high, there actually has

been some positive changes, The organization The Child Rights

Information Network, developed in 1995, is increasingly more

well-known and respected worldwide. CRIN, based in the UK, is a

universal network that gives out information about the CRC, NGOs, UN

agencies, inter-governmental organizations, and educational institutes

which spread awareness and new information regarding the rights of

children. It has 1,700 organizations as members in 140 countries. Its

future plans include taking a proactive stance to promote the rapid

spread of information as well as increasing backing activities. They

wish to implement more of a focus on 'key' audiences, which have the

resources to attain credit regarding child rights. The CRIN states,

"In November 2002, the Committee on the Rights of the Child adopted

General Comment No. 2 on "The Role of Independent National Human

Rights Institutions in the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of

the Child," which was an elaboration on article 4. Additionally, the

Committee adopted General Comment No. 5 one year later on "The General

Measures of Implementation of the Convention on the Right of the

Child," which outlined more generally what States should do to

implement the CRC. (CRIN)" These positive initiatives are helping

this movement get the attention it needs so that one day all children

will be treated well and given all the privileges necessary to live a

safe and even prosperous life..

Regarding economic status, currently States have the responsibility

to do everything in their power to ensure a 'child's economic,

cultural, and social rights (article 4), and the right of a child to

gain an ample 'standard of living'. Parents or guardians are held

primarily accountable to supply this, but are entitled to assistance

from the State when necessary under article 27. In addition, article

26 describes the child's right to social security, which consists of

social insurance. (CRIN) On the topic of education, this organization

cites that, in April 2001, the Committee on the Rights of the Child

adopted its General Comment No. 1, entitled The Aims of Education, on

the significance of article 29.1. In the Committee's General Comment

No. 8 (2006). Paragraphs 7, 19, and 20 call for States to refrain

from using corporal punishment in schools, reiterating, "Corporal

punishment is incompatible with the CRC."(CRIN)

Although I only mention a few specific updates on child rights, CRIN

lists each and every specific addition to the declaration and will

undoubtedly continue to move this cause in the right direction.

Perhaps the greatest evidence of progress rook place in May 2002, when

189 countries gathered in New York for a special UN General Assembly.

It culminated in an international agreement, which protected and

promoted rights for children known as 'A World Fit for Children'.

World leaders came to an agreement outlining a 'set of time-bound

goals for children'. These goals were in the areas of creating healthy

lives, protection from abuse, violence, and exploitation, providing

quality education, and HIV and AIDS awareness, to benefit all children

worldwide. The entire UN agreed to ensure the success of these goals

and to make them a reality in their own countries around the world.


3. The leaders of the United States of America are considered the

foremost proponents of human rights. Yet, we have often been deeply

criticized for tending to our own interests and creating a bit of a

double standard for ourselves. Our diplomats are the original drafters

of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but we have not

always put our own words into action. (The USA and Human Rights)

Specifically involving child rights, the US comes up short. After all,

children do not vote. As Robert Drinan stated in his book, the United

States has not yet ratified the Convention on the Rights of a Child.

Now I understand more fully why child rights have been so neglected.

When the most powerful nation does not take a stance and set an

example to the world on this issue, what exactly does that say to the

rest of the world? When we are among the wealthiest nations and do

not provide all the resources and funds possible, how is such an

effort supposed to be successful? The United States' effort has not

been completely negative. They have contributed significantly to

building a better world for children. One of the most important

contributions was starting UNICEF, which is based in New York with

smaller offices and committees across the country. The US has taken

action in creating the Department of Children and Families in each

state. This organization is responsible for investigating allegations

of child abuse and neglect and, if necessary, arranging for child

protection and the family 'treatment. This permits children in the US

to get the attention they deserve and has removed many children from

horrific living situations and given them avenues to seek justice.

Universally, the US has given a great deal, starting with Eleanor

Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and continues

to raise awareness around the world in order to keep these issues tin

the forefront and a global priority.

4. As mentioned previously, CRIN is clearly one of the most devoted

groups committed to improving the welfare of children and universally

educating millions of people on the topic of child rights. On their

website they list 359 non-governmental groups located in countries

around the world who are also dedicated to their cause. Some of the

most popular groups have thousands of members, confirming the global

compassion and concern for children and their rights. The Human

Rights Education Associates (HREA), based in the Netherlands, has a

primary goal is to support the efforts that introduce human rights

concepts and morals into the classroom and teaching practices around

the world. (CRIN) Additionally, an association known as the Defense

for Children International (DCI), which is an independent

international organization established in 1979, focuses on its main

purpose to encourage the rights of a child through labor protection,

child participation, violence against children, sexual exploitation,

juvenile justice, and education. The list of NGOs, groups, and

association is almost never- ending. Some focus on the general rights

of all children and some are specifically address' one particular

right. The United Nations' Children's Fund (UNICEF), located in New

York City, adopted as its mission to advocate support for the rights

and well-being of each and every single child. Their focus areas are

as follows: child survival, development, education, gender equality,

HIV/AIDS prevention and care, and security. This foundation has set a

goal for children throughout the world and feels that every child's

voice should be heard. UNICEF is a nationwide movement that consists

of celebrities' advocates and volunteers, corporate partners, NGOs,

and generous donors across the country working together to save kids'

lives. The greatest success of these NGOs and groups is not only the

funds they raise everyday for new resources, but the awareness,

dialogue, and stir that they create throughout the world.

The United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization

(UNESCO) were established in 1945. UNESCO encourages "international

peace and universal respect by promoting collaboration among nations."

(UNESCO) it also conducts studies, facilitates knowledge and develops

programs throughout the world. UNESCO has pledged to complete its new

initiative the Education for All (EFA) program by 2015, recognizing

that education is essential in ending poverty, promoting

sustainability, and building worldwide peace.

The Bush Administration has pledged to enhance the

educational system in our country to a new level in the program No

Child Left Behind, which is up for renewal next year. Although

education is a right, it however is not equal. This bipartisan program

offers legislation requiring the federal government to ensure that

every child in America be educated and to close the achievement gap

for disadvantaged students. (The White House) Some critics believe

the NCLB falls short and is too shallow. It is essential the program

be continued and improved to maintain its commitment to children. In

the spring of 2006, the Campaign for US Ratification convened a

national summit for the first time and outlined strategies seeking

ratification. A national Children's Day was established and

celebrated on November 20th to raise awareness and support for this


5. After researching the topic of child rights, I have gained a new

perspective on this often neglected topic. The positive effects

achieved by even the smallest groups can be monumental. The

astonishing statistics as well as the relative lack of effort and

sense of urgency by my own country has given me much to ponder and

encouraged me to take action. To advance this issue, I believe the

United States must fully support and ratify the Convention on the

Rights of the Child. With the backing and total commitment of the most

powerful nation in the world, this cause can fully take flight and

result in immediate, positive changes. Every person on this earth has

compassion for children. They are the future of each and every country

and they must be raised and respected to eventually make this world a

better place for all. Yet, the United States has been known to have

difficulty conforming;. It seems that our government would rather

have its own voice on issues rather than comply with other nations.

Individuals can move this issue forward by either a monetary donation

or volunteering one's time to advance this cause by raising awareness,

joining NGOs or any other associations, mentoring, and voicing the

seriousness and urgency of the need to press for child rights to aid

future generations to come. Many people believe that perhaps one

dollar or one voice cannot make a difference. If there is enough of

an uproar eventually something positive is bound to come out of it.

And who knows maybe you could save a life or educate a child.

6. Are human rights relatively important in the pursuit of worldwide justice?

Human Rights are most likely the most important aspect to worldwide

justice. Violations of human rights must be dealt with swiftly and

severely. If one day every nation could enforce economic rights,

women's rights, children's rights, civil and political rights, the

right to food and good health for all, and the rights for one's

prisoners, perhaps one day we could live with war or conflict. Perhaps

we could agree on vital topics, or even help other countries feed

their population and become economically stable so that their living

situations are actually livable. If all human rights were respected

throughout the world and laws protecting these rights enforced, and

the violators brought to justice, a lasting peace would be attainable.

The Genocide Convention in 1948 defined genocide and made it a crime

under international law. More than 130 countries have approved it as

of 2004, (Nickel, p.14) The UN is supposed to act to suppress

genocide and requires the punishment of those involved, The

International Court is supposed to prosecute them. The genocides in

Rwanda and Darfur still were and are being carried out. Governments

should not be allowed to violate human rights and do unthinkable

things to their people. Vigilance and action against those committing

these crimes will serve justice for these innocent victims and thereby

advance international peace and security.

The cycle of poverty must be stopped. Families living without hope of

a better future cannot break away from the desperation that keeps them

vulnerable. Without hope, life has no value. The key is to build

schools, not bombs. If the billions of dollars spent in war-related

pursuits were redirected to building schools and educating children,

there would be significant improvement in the human condition. With

educational programs comes the reality of employment that leads to

sustainability of the community at large. Rather than accepting the

money offered by terrorist groups to families to take their sons and

educate them in terrorist training camps, there would be another way

out, a chance to live a better life. If the protection of human rights

is a priority and educational opportunities are created and

maintained, the possibility of global peace could become a reality.


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"Children Data Bank." 17 Sep 2007 <>.

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Drinan, Robert F. The Mobilization of Shame. New Haven: Yale

University Press, 2001.

"Eleanor Roosevelt." 17 Sep 2007


"Foreword by President George W. Bush." The White House. 17 Sep 2007

< >.

Nickel, James W. Making Sense of Human Rights. 2nd. Malden,MA:

Blackwell Publishing, 2007.

Rethinking Schools online. 17 Sep 2007


"The USA and Human Rights." Human Rights For All. 17 Sep 2007


"UNESCO." 17 Sep 2007. <>.

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