The Convention on the Rights of the Child: United Nations Lawmaking on Human Rights

The Convention on the Rights of the Child: United Nations Lawmaking on Human Rights

The Convention on the Rights of the Child: United Nations Lawmaking on Human Rights

The Convention on the Rights of the Child: United Nations Lawmaking on Human Rights

Synopsis

In November 1989, the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) after nearly a decade of debate over its merits and provisions. Less than a year later, it was ratified by twenty countries, the threshold number required for implementation. No other UN human rights treaty was ever ratified so rapidly and with such enthusiasm. In this carefully researched book, Lawrence J. LeBlanc provides a historical overview of the origins of the CRC and children's rights work, places the issues and problems into the broader perspective of the United Nations lawmaking process, provides an in-depth analysis of the children's rights enumerated in the treaty, and projects the prospects for effective implementation of the CRC. He outlines why the convention comes at the best possible time and how it represents the single most important international document on children's rights. With the CRC's broad ratification, its political significance continues to grow. Close cooperation among the UN monitoring committee, UNICEF and other UN agencies, and nongovernmental organizations make it difficult for governments to ignore their pledges. Although the conditions under which many of the world's children are living give rise to legitimate concern about the CRC's real impact, LeBlanc demonstrates that our greatest hope comes from working to reduce the thin line between commitment and cliché.

Excerpt

One of the most important ways in which the United Nations fosters the development and strengthening of international human rights law is through the adoption of treaties and conventions such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child. We shall, therefore, begin our study of the convention by putting it in the broader context of the United Nations treaty-making process. That process, from the initiation to the implementation of treaties, has been heavily criticized in recent years. Among other things, as we will see in this chapter, critics have attacked the seemingly casual way in which decisions have been made regarding the drafting of treaties and the resulting loss of what they have called "quality control" in the treaty-making process. As a result, the critics charge, normative inconsistencies have occurred among different treaties and conventions, and implementation mechanisms that do not function properly have proliferated. Would such criticisms apply as well to the Convention on the Rights of the Child? We shall begin by looking more closely at the nature and criticisms of the treaty-making process. Then, taking these into account, we shall examine the initiation stage in the conclusion of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

THE UNITED NATIONS TREATY-MAKING PROCESS

In the late 1970s, the General Assembly began a review of the processes then in use to conclude multilateral treaties. The review was prompted by criticisms expressed by the Australian foreign minister in a speech he made to the General Assembly in 1976. Specifically, he attacked the "varied, chancy, frequently experimental and often inefficient" ways in which treaties were concluded by the United Nations (UNLS, 1985:7). Although criticisms . . .

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