The United States stands alone among industrialized countries in the western world as well as many others in the third world, in having not signed onto the United Nations’s “Convention on the Rights of the Child” (CRC). This is as it should be. While on an unconsidered read, the idea of proclaiming the human rights of the child would seem to be unassailable, and the CRC’s language may read to the non-legally-trained eye as laudable, the United States should NOT sign on to this document.
Here are just some of the reasons:
– This document is a treaty, a law. And as a prospective law, it is not at all well-worded. Laws that are vague, overbroad, and not well-worded are dangerous. They can give rise to unintended interpretations and outcomes. Given the powerful status of the United States in the world, and also the delight with which other countries might enjoy claiming a violation of a treaty by the United States, this makes an ill-worded law extremely problematic.
– Article 1 of the treaty specifically permits variation in the laws setting forth the “age of majority”, specifically in instances in which the age of majority is attained earlier than age eighteen. While such variation is necessary and will occur, the United States cannot enter into a treaty effectively endorsing the laws of countries in which the age of majority for some purposes is set so low that young children may be married, forced to cease school and enter the labor market, or conscripted into the army.
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Whether or not you agree with this or that critic, whether or not your politics falls to the left or right, liberal or conservative, you nevertheless need to appreciate that a badly worded law, open as it is to the multiple interpretations and meanings ascribed to it by others — such as the consensus of opinions by “democratic” vote of representatives of other countries whose religious, cultural, and moral beliefs regarding what is appropriate for children may be wildly adverse to yours — is a dangerous and ill-advised thing. The United States must not endorse any compact, contract, or treaty in derogation of the Constitution of the United States and its Bill of Rights. To learn more about the U.S. Constitution, see the Legal Information Institute at Cornell University at http://topics.law.cornell.edu/constitution/overview