Somalia to join child rights pact: UN


GENEVA (Reuters) - Somalia has announced it plans to ratify a global treaty aimed at protecting children, leaving the United States as the only country outside the pact, UNICEF said on Friday.

Somalia and the United States have long been the last hold-outs to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly exactly 20 years ago.

The most widely ratified international human rights treaty, it declares that those under 18 years old must be protected from violence, exploitation, discrimination and neglect.

"Adherence to and application of the Convention will be of crucial importance for the children of Somalia, who are gravely affected by the ongoing conflict, recurrent natural disasters and chronic poverty," the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) said in a statement welcoming the move.

In 2002, Somalia's previous transitional government signed the Convention, which the United States also signed under President Bill Clinton in 1995, but neither has ratified it.

UNICEF said Somalia's transitional government had told it the "Somali cabinet of ministers has agreed in principle to ratify the Convention on the rights of the Child".

UNICEF spokeswoman Veronique Taveau told a news briefing in Geneva: "The United States has indicated that a very important review process is going on at the moment in order to arrive as quickly as possible at a ratification".

Mark Kornblau, a spokesman for the U.S. mission to the United Nations in New York, said on Thursday the administration of President Barack Obama was "committed to undertaking a thorough and thoughtful review of the Convention of the Rights of the Child".


The US and the UNCRC

Exactly twenty years after enacting the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child, the world is one step closer to being united in their claim to protect the rights of children world wide.

The response of Mark Kornblau, that the current administration of the US, will review the convention, can be interpreted as a refusal to take up the issue. No administration will want to burn its fingers on this issue.

There are three main reasons for the non-ratification of the UNCRC by the US. First of all there is the self-proclaimed notion of American exceptionalism that stands in the way of ratification. American exceptionalism has many definitions, but in the context of the UNCRC it could go by an Orwellean paraphrase: All countries are sovereign, but the US is more sovereign than other countries.

The notion of American exceptionalism is a powerful means to make the US stop even consider the convention. It would be completely un-American to let a global agreement set the stage for federal laws.

No matter who runs the white house, whether it is a president who has disdain for the United Nations, or a president who tries to make peace with the United Nations, no president can politically afford to put the issue on the agenda. Promoting the UNCRC simply is political suicide.

There is another important reason why the UNCRC would be hard to enact in the US. The convention defines the rights of children, which in some articles runs against the notion of parental rights. Ratifying the UNCRC would mean having federal laws deciding over children's rights, while state laws decide over parental rights. So there is a large jurisdictional mismatch between the UNCRC and the American judicial system. It is not easy to see how this can be overcome.

States can of course enact laws that in effect mimic the articles of the UNCRC, and it would be very likely that some day most states are more or less UNCRC compliant, without having the US sign the actual treaty. This is, I believe, the most likely scenario. There will certainly remain a few states that will adamantly object to children having rights. Texas and Oklahoma are not likely to move closer to UNCRC-like legislation, but it wouldn't be unlikely when states in the North-East, the Mid-West and the West will eventually have legislation with a one on one correspondence to the UNCRC.

A state by state emulation of the UNCRC is, in my opinion, the most likely scenario. It saves American politicians face at home, while at the same time compliance can be demonstrated to critics from abroad.

Finally, the United States has nothing to gain by signing the UNCRC. Unlike the Hague Convention there is no immediate benefit to signing the convention. If the US had maintained its isolationist position towards adoption, it would have lost several supply chains from various sending countries that did ratify the Hague convention. So it was in America's interest to sign that convention. With the UNCRC there is no such immediate benefit. There is no money to be made, there are no children to be obtained, so there is no real urgency to give up some sense of sovereignty in exchange for global compliance.

problems with the

from what I have read and heard from the many groups who are against the USA to sign the pact, there are many problems with it....

one would be almost total government control of all children .... children would not, according to several groups around the USA such as the homeschool defense league, be able to attend private Christian, Catholic schools or to be homeschooled

I live in Va Beach, Virginia which was recently named the best place to raise children in the USA by Newsweek... schools are over crowded, there is maindated drugging of children to keep them sedated enough to tolerate siting 7-8 hours a day straight...

our city has a high rate of complaints against them with the entire school division treatment of special needs children

according to crime stats, 2 1/2 girls are raped at school during school hours each year at each high school in our city

there is a high level of crap being taught at school...

kids were be forced to go to public, no matter what... just one of the many problems

so most of the people I have heard against this pact are against it to in fact keep the stupid government out of the lives of children.... as you can tell by the horrible condition of foster care in the USA it is probably best that the government not have any more control than they already have....

they do such a wonderful job raising kids, the USA government does.... funny how I think all (if not most) of our leaders didn't have to face the crap of public school to begin with...

government control

You said that one of the problems signing the UNCRC would be because that would give almost total government control over children. I am not going to deny that, but I do wonder what sets the US apart from the rest of the word. Every other nation has ratified the convention (except Somalia that indicated it will do so in the near future), and no tragedies have taken place anywhere, because of the ratification.

What makes American government so special compared to governments in Germany, India, Brazil. South Africa, Jordan or Moldova? As different as these countries are of one another, they all have governments that have not gained any draconian powers, by ratifyingh the UNCRC. So what makes American government different from any other government in the world, that ratifying would, in the US only, lead to oppressive government control?

Oddly enough government control in the US is one of the most democratic systems in the world. Few other countries have elected school boards, the way the US has. So why would in the US only. where the local influence on school boards can be so direct, the government control be such a huge problem?


UN Treaty on the Rights of the Child

The reason that the UN Treaty would affect the US differently from the rest of the world, is our constitution. Other nations can use the treaty as they see fit or not. The US Constitution would enforce the UN Treaty differently from the rest of the countries.


Nearly all countries in this world have a constitution, addressing many of the same issues the US constitution speaks of, with probably the 2nd amendment as the big exception. Of course there are differences in how these topics are addressed. The US constitution, more than any other constitution addresses rights negatively. Freedom of speech is in most countries defined such that the government has an obligation to citizens to protect their freedom of speech, in the US it is defined as a protection from government interfering in someone speaking his/her mind. So where in most countries constitutional rights are defined as a government obligation, in the US it is defined as government non-interference.

The UNCRC is written in a style more resembling constitutions in other countries, defining government obligations, instead of government non-interference. Yet the UNCRC does not prescribe how its articles are being addressed in the laws of various countries. The US as any other country can use the treaty and set up their own laws to address all the articles of the UNCRC.

In fact the UNCRC was drafted in close cooperation with members of the Reagan administration, which was not known for its admiration for government. President Reagan is notorious for saying "Government is the problem, not the solution". It would be most unlikely that particular administration would have allowed the draft of a treaty that would give government unprecedented control over its citizens.

I am afraid the UNCRC is one of the many examples where good intentions are being met with fear mongering from politicians. Opposition to the UNCRC initially came from Senator Jessy Helms, who relished his nickname "Senator No". It was mainly stopped by him because it meant change, not necessarily because there is something bad in the UNCRC.

Despite all sorts of opposition, I still do not see why the UNCRC poses a huge threat to the US, while it has not done so in any other country.{B56D7393-E583-4658-85E6-C1974B1A57F8}

is the link or you can find it by going to

yes, I know everyone here is going to get pissy about "parent rights" but sadly if the parents don't have the rights.... the kids won't get them either; not in the USA.... th dumb ass government will


Why would you think anyone here would get pissy about parental rights? I didn´t know they were controversial.

It's about time Somalia and

It's about time Somalia and the US ratified this treaty. Children should be treated decently! To have a commitment to do that is a very good mind-set. Children are such 2nd class citizens everywhere and in the US are treated like property of the parents to do whatever the parents want. That's wrong. The rate of child abuse in the US is way above that in Canada and Europe and other countries which is a very shameful position. Let's face the facts: many parents treat their children badly and are the most common, likely abusers of children, unless somebody does something and stops it. Despite much good information and support most US parents continue to be ignorant and are frequently abusive. This affects all of society, and is the underlying reason for the higher rate of violent crime in the US compared with Europe & Canada. Ratifying the UN CRC will send a message of support to children and encourage policies that deter abuse, gradually less children will be abused and die from abuse, and over time a healthier and less violent society will develop.

It's totally unnatural to abuse a child. Children are people, and if they are abused they become unnatural, often violent, mentally unhealthy, and prone to creating problems in society.

More (not less)

It's totally unnatural to abuse a child.

I'm not sure it's totally unnatural to abuse a child... perhaps it's more natural to deny harm is being done to a child... especially if that harm is being done by those with wealth, power, or fame --  social influence.

Lloyd deMause's The Evolution of Childrearing, explores the many ways in which children have been maltreated by the wealthy and the poor, proving abuse/neglect can just as easily come from a parent as it can come from a paid care-taker, or a person with nothing to offer a child with many many needs.   

Although it is extraordinarily difficult to believe, parents until relatively recently have been so frightened of and have so hated their newborn infants that they have killed them by the billions, routinely sent them out to extremely neglectful wetnurses, tied them up tightly in swaddling bandages lest they be overpowered by them, starved, mutilated, raped, neglected and beat them so badly that prior to modern times I have not been able to find evidence of a single parent who would not today be put in jail for child abuse.

Although deMause uses extreme examples of abuse within his piece, (torture, maternal incest, and sexual mutilation), he also features the effects abandonment and sending children away has had on children, especially if those children were sent  to harsh wet-nurses, school-masters, apprenticeship-programs and fosterage-homes as a means to keep unruly/demanding children "quiet", "well-behaved" and "disciplined"... qualities that imply "good society".

In my adoptive family, children were taught who was boss, and who made the rules.  Elders used pain, fear/threat, and intimidation as teaching tools.  Some children got more lessons and reminders than others.  I recall many adults telling me, "A child is to be seen, not heard."  I grew-up believing the adopted child was never to complain, because the adopted child must always be grateful for everything given by the paying/sacrificing adoptive family.

It's only been recently that adults are recognizing children as being people with thoughts and feelings.... young people who are capable of creating mental associations and opinions, based upon those thoughts and feelings.

I see this "new awareness" in a child's rights as being a good thing -- a sign of social development that includes spiritual evolution.  However, as long as there are those denying abuse is taking place in otherwise well-regarded homes, families, churches and schools, the cycle of child-abuse is sure to continue as it always has, making society what it still is -- unsafe and very scary for many.

With so many in the US wanting less government involvement in family-life, how can people be convinced more, (not less), over-seeing in certain practices, like social services, is needed?


Unfortunately it is quite natural to abuse children, it is part and parcel of our sordid history. The notion of children having rights and should be treated well is actually a relatively recent development. Prior to the 19th century children were relatively dispensable. Most of them died before reaching adulthood and little was invested in them.

With the rise of the middle class in the mid-1900's, the sentimentalization of childhood started. Around that time, the death of children was openly mourned, and for the first time various highly sentimental stories were written speaking of the loss of children. This development was part of a demographic change, where a growing middle-class was getting less children, while at the same time medical and sanitary innovation reduced infant mortality rate.

Prior to this relatively modern development, children were literally a parents possession and were often used and abused to provide a family with an income. In fact, it wasn't until the progressive movement of the early 20th century that a change in attitude really gained traction.

The fact, we nowadays see child abuse as unnatural and damaging (perpetuating the cycle of abuse) is not more than a century old. That´s why I am inclined to say that child abuse is very much natural, while not abusing children represents a civilized approach.

I do agree with you, we need that civilized approach towards children. It is the right thing to do with regards to children and the cost of not doing so. is one no country can really afford. Violent crime rates are highly correlated to child abuse and drop-out rates in schools are highly correlated to child abuse, to mention only two forms of societal cost related to child abuse.

The problem with enacting the UNCRC is that there is no pork in it. There usually is no political will to introduce new legislation, unless there is money to be made. Members of congress don't risk their political career for a bill that would do good to people that are not their constituents.So as long as children are not allowed to vote, adults will need to benefit directly from legislation for it to have a chance to be enacted.

The enactment of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 1975, is a prime example of how adult interests are needed to get legislation passed. The reason there is child abuse prevention is because the federal government pays states to set-up and maintain child protective services and it pays for child abuse hotlines. Senators and representatives could sell that legislation to their constituents by bringing home jobs.

So far no one has tried to, or has been able to translate the UNCRC in enough pork to sell it to the constituents. No one so far has been able to rally special interest behind the UNCRC to guarantee campaign donations. So until the UNCRC creates jobs, or benefits organizations in their profit margins, there is no member of congress willing to take the risk to introduce laws making the US compliant with UNCRC regulation.

The UNCRC is a lofty goal, but until adults can make a profit out of it, introduction of it will be political suicide. Despite our more civilized approach to children during the last century and a half, our political discourse is still very barbaric.

UN Treaty on the Rights of the Child

Children die 7 times faster in state care than in parental care. So why should the state be given the right to children. CPS takes children from parental care now one by one so that they can get the federal funding from Social Security Title IV. Imagine what would happen if the treaty were ratified....CPS would take children en mass to get the federal funding. Do we really want a nation of children raised by the state....sounds familiar.....Nazi Germany - perhaps?? Without parental direction, imagine how many Columbine situations we would have! The treaty says that parents must provide a life of leisure for their children and no direction. With a ratified treaty.....we better hide the guns and the drugs....for we will all be in for the ride of our lives in this country.

What is actually being stated

Since the second world war, nearly all proposed legislation that gives the federal government obligations, has been met with fear that enacting it would either lead to USSR-style communism or Nazi Germany fascism. Medicaire, Medicaid and all programs of the Great Society were claimed to end "the American way of life" and ultimately to totalitarianism. The same is said about health care reform and attempts to curb greenhouse gas emissions at the moment. The UNCRC is of course met with the same response, and as usual the arguments against are mostly based on falsehoods and fabrications.

With respect to a child to have the right to live with its own parents, the UNCRC states the following:


Convinced that the family, as the fundamental group of society and the natural environment for the growth and well-being of all its members and particularly children, should be afforded the necessary protection and assistance so that it can fully assume its responsibilities within the community,

Article 8

  1. States Parties undertake to respect the right of the child to preserve his or her identity, including nationality, name and family relations as recognized by law without unlawful interference.
  2. Where a child is illegally deprived of some or all of the elements of his or her identity, States Parties shall provide appropriate assistance and protection, with a view to re-establishing speedily his or her identity.

Article 9

  1. States Parties shall ensure that a child shall not be separated from his or her parents against their will, except when competent authorities subject to judicial review determine, in accordance with applicable law and procedures, that such separation is necessary for the best interests of the child. Such determination may be necessary in a particular case such as one involving abuse or neglect of the child by the parents, or one where the parents are living separately and a decision must be made as to the child's place of residence.
  2. In any proceedings pursuant to paragraph 1 of the present article, all interested parties shall be given an opportunity to participate in the proceedings and make their views known.
  3. States Parties shall respect the right of the child who is separated from one or both parents to maintain personal relations and direct contact with both parents on a regular basis, except if it is contrary to the child's best interests.
  4. Where such separation results from any action initiated by a State Party, such as the detention, imprisonment, exile, deportation or death (including death arising from any cause while the person is in the custody of the State) of one or both parents or of the child, that State Party shall, upon request, provide the parents, the child or, if appropriate, another member of the family with the essential information concerning the whereabouts of the absent member(s) of the family unless the provision of the information would be detrimental to the well-being of the child. States Parties shall further ensure that the submission of such a request shall of itself entail no adverse consequences for the person(s) concerned.

Article 10

  1. In accordance with the obligation of States Parties under article 9, paragraph 1, applications by a child or his or her parents to enter or leave a State Party for the purpose of family reunification shall be dealt with by States Parties in a positive, humane and expeditious manner. States Parties shall further ensure that the submission of such a request shall entail no adverse consequences for the applicants and for the members of their family.
  2. A child whose parents reside in different States shall have the right to maintain on a regular basis, save in exceptional circumstances personal relations and direct contacts with both parents. Towards that end and in accordance with the obligation of States Parties under article 9, paragraph 1, States Parties shall respect the right of the child and his or her parents to leave any country, including their own, and to enter their own country. The right to leave any country shall be subject only to such restrictions as are prescribed by law and which are necessary to protect the national security, public order (ordre public), public health or morals or the rights and freedoms of others and are consistent with the other rights recognized in the present Convention.

Article 18

  1. States Parties shall use their best efforts to ensure recognition of the principle that both parents have common responsibilities for the upbringing and development of the child. Parents or, as the case may be, legal guardians, have the primary responsibility for the upbringing and development of the child. The best interests of the child will be their basic concern.
  2. For the purpose of guaranteeing and promoting the rights set forth in the present Convention, States Parties shall render appropriate assistance to parents and legal guardians in the performance of their child-rearing responsibilities and shall ensure the development of institutions, facilities and services for the care of children.
  3. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that children of working parents have the right to benefit from child-care services and facilities for which they are eligible.

So the diatribe of government controlled child rearing makes no sense when looking at the actual text of the UNCRC. When debating treaties or proposed legislation it happens over and over that not the actual text is being criticized, but some version an evil despot could or would have written instead. I rather stick to the facts and use the actual proposal, instead of a made up version some tyrant might have written.

With respect  to leisure the UNCRC states the following:

Article 31

  1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.
  2. States Parties shall respect and promote the right of the child to participate fully in cultural and artistic life and shall encourage the provision of appropriate and equal opportunities for cultural, artistic, recreational and leisure activity.

That is a far cry from the statement that parents must provide a life of leisure for their children and no direction.

In fact when it comes to parental direction the following articles apply:

Article 5

States Parties shall respect the responsibilities, rights and duties of parents or, where applicable, the members of the extended family or community as provided for by local custom, legal guardians or other persons legally responsible for the child, to provide, in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child, appropriate direction and guidance in the exercise by the child of the rights recognized in the present Convention.

Article 14

  1. States Parties shall respect the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
  2. States Parties shall respect the rights and duties of the parents and, when applicable, legal guardians, to provide direction to the child in the exercise of his or her right in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child.
  3. Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals, or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.

Finally, I do agree with you that out-of-home care is more dangerous than a child's natural family. The statistics about this speak for themselves. I also agree that children are removed at too high a rate, both for political and economical reasons. This, in my opinion, is not necessarily because the government should not have the right to remove children. This is unfortunately much needed in some situation.

Children are often being removed at too high a rate in response to a prior case of serious abuse. Officials decide to act tough and bold and as a result children are being removed that were not in danger in their own family.

Children are also being removed at too high a rate because local authorities use CPS as a punitive measure. Children are being taken away, not for their best interest, but to punish parents.

Children are finally being removed because of financial incentives inherent to the funding of child protective services and foster care.

These three reason have nothing to do with a governments obligation to interfere on behalf of a child when necessary. It is an indication that the current system is not working properly and should be redesigned. Parental right are not absolute and the shouldn't be. Some people treat their children horribly and in such cases intervention is requires, and as a last resort, removal should be an option, if that is in the child's best interest.

What is much needed though are properly funded programs that work in the field of family preservation. The Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980, defined permanency in two directions, adoption and family preservation. Most of the funding has gone to adoption, while family preservation has constantly seen budget cuts. There is less money to be made with family preservation than with adoption, but there is also a lot of money that can be saved with family preservation. It´s time the federal government, which foots the bill, steps up and makes sure the money spent on the local level is worth the tax payers money. More federal oversight is needed, not less.

According to a feed from

According to a feed from UNICEF:

"Despite the lack of an official treaty, UNICEF is still supporting activities in Somalia that pave the way for the realization of children’s rights.

At the official level, UNICEF is engaged in advocacy with members of parliament, government ministries and civil society representatives to promote the Convention.

Where children need support on a daily basis, UNICEF works in communities with health workers, teachers, non-governmental organizations, media professionals dissertation writers and children themselves to make child rights a reality.

“The right to information is indeed one of the key rights outlined in the CRC,” said Mr. Balslev-Olesen. “But until we can all build a society for children where they can survive and thrive, the right to participate will not mean much if that little boy in northern Somalia has to flee his house because fighting breaks out in his town."

Rights of the child

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is a human rights treaty setting out the civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of children. The Convention generally defines a child as any human being under the age of eighteen. The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention and opened it for signature on 20 November 1989.

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