On November 20, 1989, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted and opened for signature the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), a treaty designed to give “equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family.” While the underlying purpose of the treaty might sound humanitarian and just, it contains articles that give “administrative or legislative bodies” the authority to supersede parents in serving the best interests of their children (Article 3), empower government bureaucrats to dictate the standards and roles parents should have in raising their children (Article 5), and enable children to voice their opinion “in any judicial and administrative proceedings” against their parents with support from the government (Article 12). The treaty thus diminishes parental rights by enabling government bureaucrats to step in and govern a child’s well-being.
So far, 194 countries belonging to the United Nations have ratified the treaty. To this day, only two U.N. members have not ratified the treaty—the United States and Somalia. In 1995, President Bill Clinton signed the treaty, but the U.S. Senate refused to ratify it. When asked about his thoughts on the treaty in 2009, President Obama said, “It’s embarrassing to find ourselves in the company of Somalia, a lawless land. I will review this and other treaties and ensure that the United States resumes its global leadership in Human Rights.”
However, the United States has ratified two optional protocols that were adopted by the General Assembly on May 25, 2000. The former protocol, the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, proclaims that countries cannot conscript children under the age of 18 and cannot force them to engage directly in war hostilities, while the latter protocol, the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, prohibits countries from selling children and profiting off of child prostitution and pornography.
Although the United States has not ratified it, the Convention on the Rights of the Child is completely relevant to our nation today, as we witness the enactment of new laws that bear striking resemblances to the treaty. These laws, which are classified as “customary international laws,” contain language lifted from the Convention on the Rights of the Child and can easily be passed through a state legislature or applied by a federal court.
Because these types of laws are unwritten and based on customs practiced around the world, the provisions of the CRC have easily become incorporated into such laws. For example, the Supreme Court case Roper v. Simmons (2005), which decreed that children below the age of 18 cannot receive the death penalty, implemented one of the articles of the CRC regarding “the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.” Thus, this case demonstrates the power that the Court has in applying customary international law to cases in the United States.
Moreover, two laws that have passed in California this year demonstrate how customary international law and the CRC are already negatively influencing legislation in the United States. AB 499, an act that amended Section 6926 of the Family Code, now allows children under the age of 12 to receive Gardasil vaccinations without parental consent. SB 48, the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful Act that amends the Education Code, forces children as young as 5 years old to learn “gay history” and thereby prevents parents from having a say in their children’s education. How fair is that?
Recently, the organization parentalrights.org released a docudrama called “Overruled: Government Invasion of Your Parental Rights”, which documents three cases that convey how customary international laws are thwarting parental rights here in America. Towards the end of the film, parentalrights.org concludes that America needs to pass a Parental Rights Amendment to ensure that parents, not government bureaucrats, have the liberty to raise their children as they see fit and that international treaties do not usurp such rights.
The Weatherman Underground Manifesto, written in the 1960’s, proclaimed that the family unit needed to be destroyed in order to transform America into a socialist haven. Seeing that their dream is still alive and progressing towards realization, it is more important than ever to protect parental rights in America. Unless we want to become a nation like Sweden which allows government officials to take homeschooled children away from their parents, our generation must protect parental rights so we may secure a safe future for our own children.
Anna Maria Hoffman // University of California at San Diego // 12.01.2011