Implementing the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child: A Standard of Living Adequate for Development

Implementing the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child: A Standard of Living Adequate for Development

Implementing the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child: A Standard of Living Adequate for Development

Implementing the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child: A Standard of Living Adequate for Development

Synopsis

The human right to survive and develop, a fundamental premise of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, can be attained only if adequate living conditions are secured for the child. In this book, an international, interdisciplinary group of distinguished authors discuss issues affecting families, communities, and governments as they seek to secure "the right of every child to a standard of living adequate for the child's physical, mental, spiritual, moral, and social development."

Excerpt

Gary B. Melton

In 1989, after a decade-long drafting period, the U.N. General Assembly unanimously adopted an extraordinary document, the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention is unprecedented in its universality and rapidity of ratification and accession. Almost every nation of the world has ratified or acceded to the Convention. (At this writing, only the United States--a signatory but not a party to the Convention--and Somalia are exceptions.) One might argue that this near-unanimity is indicative only of the ease in attracting prochild sloganeering, no matter what the cultural differences may be in how those slogans are understood. Although such an observation undoubtedly has some power in explaining the politics of ratification in many countries, one should not assume that ratification is meaningless or that it is the product of purely cynical motives.

Two facts weigh against such an interpretation. First, the drafters of the Convention established a system of monitoring implementation that is of unprecedented scope. Each state party to the Convention is obligated to produce a periodic report for review by a U.N. committee of experts serving in their personal capacity. Although the Committee on the Rights of the Child does take this responsibility seriously, the important structural innovation is that the Convention provides that U.N. agencies, expressly including UNICEF, and "other competent bodies" may offer "expert advice" or technical assistance in the process of monitoring and implementation (Art. 45).

This provision mirrors the unusual history of the drafting of the Convention, in which nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) were granted a seat in the working group to draft the Convention. Further, an ongoing caucus of NGO

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