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Friday, November 20, 2009

US only holdout on UN child rights treaty after Somalia announces intent to ratify
Ann Riley at 10:15 AM ET

[JURIST] The Somali Transitional Federal Government [official website] on Friday announced its intention to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) [official website], which, if successful, would make the US the only UN member state not to have done so. The UN International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) [official website] welcomed [Xinhua report] the announcement that Somalia's ministers had agreed in principle [Reuters report] to work toward ratification of the convention defining universal children's rights [official backgrounder, PDF]. The convention has been ratified by 193 nations, making it the world's most widely ratified human rights treaty. In commemoration of the 20th anniversary [press release] of the UN’s adoption of the CRC, UNICEF released a report [text, PDF; press release] detailing the progress and challenges remaining in protecting the rights of children. Noting that the Convention is largely compliant with US laws and that the US played a significant role in drafting the treaty, Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] said Thursday that "US ratification is long over-due" and urged [press release] the president and Senate to ratify the convention.

In June, US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice [official profile] said [AP report] that the Obama administration is seeking ways to have the US sign on to the treaty. In 1995, then-president Bill Clinton signed the CRC, but never submitted [AP report] it to be ratified by the Senate. Opponents of the CRC allege that the treaty puts US sovereignty in jeopardy and undermines parental rights [advocacy website]. Earlier this year, Obama signed [JURIST report] the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) [official website], the first international human rights treaty the US has signed in nearly a decade. The CRPD is awaiting ratification [Senate materials] in the Senate.

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