ISSUE ANALYSIS

a division of Home School Legal Defense Association
March 2001

BUSH to UN—U.S. is Pro-Family
A Report from the Front

UNITED NATIONS–NEW YORK, NY—With little fanfare, on February 1, 2001, the Bush State Department, in one of its first international statements, delivered a major win for conservatives and the pro-family movement.

The occasion was the second in a series of three scheduled meetings held at the United Nations in New York in preparation for the UN World Summit for Children. Scheduled in September 2001, the Summit is an unprecedented meeting of the UN General Assembly dedicated to the children and adolescents of the world. It will bring together government leaders and Heads of State, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), so-called children's advocates, and young people themselves.

The purpose of the meeting in February was to negotiate the outcome document, A World Fit for Children for the Summit. The UN says the Summit will present a great opportunity to "change the way the world views and treats children."

Of course that is the problem.

There are many reasons to be suspicious of the UN. In spite of their 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights which declared "The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State" (Article 16–3), various interest groups including UNICEF have worked to undermine this position.

In 1990, world leaders gathered at the UN for the first World Summit for Children. The Summit adopted a Declaration on the Survival, Protection and Development of Children and a plan of action for implementing the Declaration during the 1990's which included a call for ratification and implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

These documents reflect a globalist approach to family planning, giving a central government the ultimate power to control citizens in the name of children's rights. For this reason many pro-family groups, including HSLDA, have long opposed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and other such treaties.

Since 1992, the U.S. government itself supported the general goals of the Convention but opposition from American citizens and members of Congress (especially Senator Jesse Helms) prevented the treaty from being ratified.

So on February 1 when Ambassador Michael Southwick, Deputy Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs took the microphone to deliver the U.S. response to the outcome document, the General Assembly hall was packed as the international community waited to hear what the new Administration would say. The message was simple—there is a new sheriff in town.

Southwick delivered a strong but respectful statement on protecting children and the humanitarian tradition of American generosity.

Then he said:

Finally, I would like to say a few words about the many references to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international instruments in the current text. States may be encouraged to consider ratification of these instruments, but it is wrong to assert an obligation to ratify them. We also believe it is misleading and inappropriate to use the Convention as a litmus test to measure a nation's commitment to children. As a non-party to the Convention, the United States does not accept obligations based on it, nor do we accept that it is the best or only framework for developing programs and policies to benefit children.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child may be a positive tool in promoting child welfare for those countries that have adopted it. But we believe the text goes too far when it asserts entitlements based on the economic, social and cultural rights contained in the Convention and other instruments. The human rights-based approach, while laudable in its objectives, poses significant problems as used in this text.

This demonstrates the impact one election can make. Although the UN will keep pushing and the Conventions are not dead, it is clear that President Bush has placed himself squarely on our side of this fight.

A first-hand Report from the United Nations

February 1, 2001


For further information on this please contact Doug Domenech at the National Center for Home Education. 540.338.7600, 540.338.8606 (fax), NationalCenter@hslda.org