Nations from around the world and child welfare advocates from many countries are supporting international treaties and initiatives designed to increase protections for child workers.

Making Universal Children’s Day Meaningful

by Jonathan Todres

November 20th is Universal Children’s Day. The U.N. established Universal Children’s Day in 1954 to create a day of “activity devoted to the promotion of the ideals and objectives of the [U.N.] Charter and the welfare of children of the world.” Worthwhile goals, but as there are now more than 125 international observance days, it is fair to ask whether Universal Children’s Day makes a difference.

Jonathan Todres

Jonathan Todres

Universal Children’s Day presents an opportunity to reflect on both progress made and work still to be done. Since the adoption of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child—the most comprehensive treaty on children’s rights and well-being—on November 20, 1989, significant progress has been made on behalf of tens of millions of children around the world. Yet much more work remains. The data on infant and child mortality rates reflects this: globally, the number of deaths of children under five declined from 12.7 million in 1990 to less than 6 million in 2015. That’s vital progress, as many children now realize their most precious right—to life and survival. Yet more than five million young children still die each year, largely due to preventable causes.

But Universal Children’s Day can be much more than a day to raise awareness. It can be a day of action, a launching point for initiatives that accelerate progress on children’s rights and wellbeing. What might that look like? I have three suggestions.

First, if you are President of the United States, send the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) to the Senate for its advice and consent. The CRC is the most widely accepted human rights treaty in history. There are 196 parties to the treaty; the U.S. is the only country that hasn’t ratified it. The CRC has helped foster progress on law, policy, and programs aimed at improving children’s well-being and securing children’s rights. The U.S. signed the treaty in 1995, but it has taken no action since then (ratification is necessary to make a treaty legally binding).

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CLC Member Jo Becker of Human Rights Watch: Will the US Be the Last Country to Ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child?

 

As the children’s rights advocate for Human Rights Watch, one of the questions I’m asked most frequently is why the US has not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Currently, only two other countries – South Sudan and Somalia – have yet to ratify the convention, the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history.

But the US is now in danger of becoming a club of one. Last Wednesday, South Sudan’s parliament voted to ratify the convention. The same day – the 24th anniversary of the convention – Somalia’s president pledged that his country would ratify it soon.

South Sudan and Somalia have some reasonable excuses for not having ratified the child rights convention more quickly. South Sudan gained independence only two years ago, and Somalia has struggled for more than two decades to establish a functioning government. The US has no such defense.

One of the biggest barriers to US ratification is an aggressive misinformation campaign by “parental rights” organizations, claiming that the convention will undermine American families. These groups have promoted ludicrous scenarios of what will happen if the US ratifies the convention, saying parents will be put in prison if they fail to vaccinate their child, that children will be forced to sing songs about the United Nations in school, and that children will have to begin mandatory sex education at the age of four. None of these claims are true.

In reality, the Convention on the Rights of the Child makes numerous references to the importance of the family.

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Let Congress know that you want it to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child

The U.S. and Somalia are the only two nations that belong to the United Nations that have not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), an international treaty that recognizes the basic rights that all children should enjoy. The 193 nations that have ratified the CRC have committed to act in the best interests of children. Over 40 specific rights are guaranteed and nations must report to the UN periodically about their successes and failures in achieving CRC goals.

To sign a Change.org petition, please go here.

In addition to the petition located here, please consider signing a second petition at the CRC site here.… Read the rest

New Law Aims To Shine Light On Conflict Metals

By: Michele Kelemen

December 20, 2011

Delly Mawazo Sesete wants American consumers to know what is in their smart phones, computers and other electronics and where U.S. companies like Apple are getting those rare metals.

Sesete says that, without knowing, consumers in the U.S. could be fueling conflicts in Eastern Congo. The human rights activist is from a remote part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where armed groups are wreaking havoc and get much of their funding from mining rare metals.

“All the money that armed groups get from that exploitation is used to buy weapons and other ammunition so that they may cause injury to people … men slaughtered, pillage, rape of women and young girls,” he says.

Some of Sesete’s own family members have been forced from their homes in mineral rich areas of eastern Congo. The country’s riches, he says, have been a curse. Read more