United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child: Background and Policy Issues [August 1, 2011] [open pdf - 261KB]
"U.S. ratification of the United Nations (U.N.) Convention on the Rights of the Child (hereafter referred to as CRC or the Convention) may be a key area of focus during the 112th Congress, particularly if the Barack Obama Administration seeks the advice and consent of the Senate. CRC is an international treaty that aims to protect the rights of children worldwide. [...] The question of U.S. ratification of CRC has generated contentious debate. Opponents argue that U.S. ratification would undermine U.S. sovereignty by giving the United Nations authority to determine the best interests of U.S. children. Some are also concerned that CRC could interfere in the private lives of families, particularly the rights of parents to educate and discipline their children. Moreover, some contend that CRC is an ineffective mechanism for protecting children's rights. They emphasize that countries that are widely regarded as abusers of children's rights, including China and Sudan, are party to the Convention. Supporters of U.S. ratification, on the other hand, hold that CRC's intention is not to circumvent the role of parents but to protect children against government intrusion and abuse. Proponents emphasize what they view as CRC's strong support for the role of parents and the family structure. Additionally, supporters hold that U.S. federal and state laws generally meet the requirements of CRC, and that U.S. ratification would strengthen the United States' credibility when advocating children's rights abroad. This report provides an overview of CRC's background and structure and examines evolving U.S. policy toward the Convention, including past and current Administration positions and congressional perspectives. It also highlights issues for the 112th Congress, including the Convention's possible impact on federal and state laws, U.S. sovereignty, parental rights, and U.S. family planning and abortion policy. In addition, the report addresses the effectiveness of CRC in protecting the rights of children internationally and its potential use as an instrument of U.S. foreign policy."
CRS Report for Congress, R40484