and International Law
The empirical reality and legal status of children discussed in Chapters 1–13 above have international counterparts. Although beyond the scope of this text, the contraction of the world through the momentous communications and transportation advances of the last fifty years reduces the psychological distance between the children of the disparate nations of the world.
The empirical status of children internationally varies radically by nation state, with measures of poverty, health, and education high in North America and Western Europe and extremely low in much of the developing world. Notwithstanding some improvement over the last two decades, overpopulation, poverty, illness, and lack of education afflict most of the children of the world. Millions are directly subject to extreme poverty to the point of hunger and malnutrition, abusive child labor, problematical health, and relatively short life spans. 1 One in twelve children in the world dies before reaching the age of five. 2 Any examination of the status of children in the United States properly notes on the one hand, the prevalence of the disadvantaged, even desperate, straits of their peers in the developing world, and on the other hand, the relatively higher standing of children in other industrialized countries, whose wealth is closer to that of the U.S.
Within that international community, the United States exercises a leadership role on many levels. Our nation's scientific advances in electronics, biology and medicine, agriculture, and other technologies have produced profound worldwide change. The cultural and entertainment products of the nation proliferate the media throughout the world.
Child advocates argue that the political and moral leadership of the United States should address the plight of children internationally, including not only the promotion of private reproductive responsibility, but also the modeling and funding of successful social service precedents, the protection of the earth, and the enhancement of opportunity for the benefit of future generations worldwide. Such leadership would include the promotion of effective and adequate child investment in U.S. bilateral aid policies, and our support of international organizations and ratification of relevant international treaties. The United Nations' Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international efforts to protect or advance children require each participating nation to commit beyond its own immediate selfinterest for a larger and longterm gain.
In 1966, the United Nations adopted the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Entered into force in 1976, the Covenant included the legally binding provision that all children “shall have, without any discrimination as to