U.S. Will Soon Stand Alone in Failing to Ratify Rights for Children with the United Nations

In recent news, Somalia became the 195th country to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).  The CRC is the most widely ratified international human rights document in history and was officially adopted by the United Nations (UN) in 1989.

l-61-Hands-with-unicef-logoThis landmark treaty includes the promises of civil, political, social, economic, cultural rights and freedoms, including the right to health and healthcare, education, leisure and cultural activities, and numerous special protection measures for children.

When a country ratifies a UN convention like the CRC, it can be held accountable by the Committee on the Rights of the Child to its terms.  Countries then use the treaty as a measure to assess and also improve its policies and programs to better support children and their families.

To date, there are just two UN member nations who have not yet ratified the CRC – South Sudan and the United States of America.  It should be noted, however, that South Sudan only became an independent country and joined the UN less than five years ago and it has since passed a bill to move toward ratification.

While the United States was one of the primary contributors toward drafting this document, it has never made efforts toward ratifying it.  Soon, the United States will be the only UN member country who has not ratified this child and family focused human rights treaty.  The only one! Years ago while campaigning, President Obama said this was embarrassing and that he would review this, but there’s been no momentum toward doing so.

Why should we care?

The U.S. is a world leader and what we do affects other countries.  Ratifying the CRC would send a strong message across the globe that children’s rights should be primary.  Also, how can we promote children’s rights in other countries when we have not yet made this commitment?

This documents clearly enumerates the many human rights specifically relevant and meaningful to children.  At a national level, ratification of the CRC can be used to help strengthen families’ and children’s human rights within our own country.

Using just one example from the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 24 of the treaty recognizes:

“the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health,” “to diminish infant and child mortality; to combat disease and malnutrition,” through the provision of adequate nutritious foods,” “taking into consideration the dangers and risks of environmental pollution;” “to ensure appropriate pre-natal and post-natal health care for mothers;” “to have access to education and are supported in the use of basic knowledge of child health and nutrition, the advantages of breastfeeding, to develop preventative health care…”

This article refers to a basic foundation required for children to be raised in an environment that protects their dignity and supports their physical, mental and emotional growth and potential.  Yet, from birth, the United States violates children’s human rights and fails its children and their families.

Research shows that infant mortality rate (IMR) is valid indicator of the overall health of a nation.  According to a CDC report, the United States ranked behind 25 other countries in IMR; this, despite the fact that we spend more money per person than any other country on healthcare costs.

Sadly, we do lead the world in many things that violate the human rights of our children, such as:

  • Production of GMO crops and relatedly,
  • Exposure to Glyphosate (the world’s #1 pesticide/herbicide)
  • Global Warming Contributions
  • Youth Offenders Servings Life Sentences Without the Possibility of Parole
  • Relative Child Poverty Rates Among Economically Advanced Countries

It’s time for us to rethink the United States’ record on human rights, especially when it comes to children and families.  Establishing a commitment to the ratification of the CRC would be a step toward doing so.  We must remember that the articles within the CRC layout “human rights,” not needs or wants or ideals.  Using a rights-based perspective is a more powerful way to engage individuals, groups, communities, and even governments to increase accountability and force change.  A human-rights approach empowers children, parents, families, and communities to better understand, advocate, and demand their rights be realized.

You can join the Campaign for U.S. Ratification of the CRC and the sign its petition asking President Obama to send the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) to the U.S. Senate for ratification.

Ebola Aid Workers and Donald Trump: The Best and Worst of Humankind

Trump tweet

On Saturday, Donald Trump tweeted that ‘The U.S. cannot allow EBOLA infected people back.” He qualified this by saying that “People that go to far away places to help out are great- but must suffer the consequences!’ This was in response to the news that two American medical missionaries had contracted the virus whilst helping infected people in Liberia.

There are numerous problems with Trump’s comment. Firstly, it reveals Trump’s lack of medical knowledge. I am, of course, assuming that this tweet was prompted by Trump’s belief that if people with Ebola arrive in the U.S.A. then others will become infected. (Although, given his blatant disregard for fellow-man, I would not be shocked to discover that he does not want them to return for more sinister reasons).

However, as horrific and deadly as the Ebola virus disease is, it is not airborne and can only be passed through close contact with blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids. Another important consideration is that if the two American workers were to return to the U.S.A., they would be treated in one of the most medically advanced and well-resourced hospitals on the planet.

Trump then retweeted a post from @BigBoie7531 which said: ’To all the liberal do gooders, this is the Plague you idiots! No cure!’ Whilst @BigBoie7531 is indeed correct that there is no cure for Ebola, you will be surprised to learn that he is not a leading medical authority. In fact, he has no medical qualifications at all, further undermining Trump’s argument.

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/495415298808639488

Aid Workers and volunteers who dedicate their lives to alleviating the pain of their fellow-man, regardless of whether they live next door or in “far away places”, comprise the very best portion of humanity. They are not motivated by fame, money or even success, but rather a belief that every human life is precious- even Donald Trump’s. It’s very simple; the primary aim of Humanitarian Workers is to save lives. Thankfully, the decision to return the workers does not rest in Trump’s hands and both workers have returned to the U.S.A.

Trump should be supporting, in every way possible, the work that these people do, for it is they who counter-balance the destruction and death caused by un-constrained, self-serving, corporate greed. Whilst the likes of Trump make you despair at the world, aid workers remind you that, amidst all the injustice, there still remains a lot of beauty.

Perversely, we live in an age where one tweet by Donald Trump can gain worldwide media attention, whereas the mind-blowingly brilliant work of Aid Workers goes largely unreported. So in an attempt to begin to address this imbalance, I want to highlight the work of just a few Aid Workers, to whom we owe our thanks and praise:

  • Sarah* is a Humanitarian Aid Worker who has been working in Baidoa in Somalia for 17 years. Sarah has worked tirelessly to relieve the famine conditions that exist in that area. She has helped establish Nutrition Centres to treat 20 malnourished children per day. Sarah has seen hundreds of people die right before her eyes due to a lack of food and, whilst she says she gets very frustrated that more is not being done by the humanitarian community to save lives, she has never given up on her work. (www.unocha.org/somalia).
  • Two weeks ago, two female Finnish Aid Workers were shot dead in Herat, Afghanistan whilst on the way to their office. The women had been in Afghanistan to provide medical aid, education and economic support. They were part of an organization who support the locals with individual development projects.
  • And we of course cannot forget the Humanitarian Workers who, as I type, are entering Gaza during the brief seven hour ceasefire. They go, knowing the catastophic instability; knowing that UN schools have been destroyed; knowing that no one is spared from the indiscriminate bombing. It’s almost impossible to truly comprehend the sacrifice they are making.

Last year 155 Humanitarian Aid Workers were killed. They were murdered as a consequence of  wanting to help. That is 155 grieving families. A further 168 were injured, and another 134 were kidnapped. Now, in addition to all that, they have prominent figures like Trump suggesting that they aren’t worth saving while basically arguing the sacrifice must be theirs and theirs alone.

Luckily, as terrible as you are Donald, there are people out there who, if you were to get infected with a life threatening and contagious illness, would still put their egos and sense of self-importance aside to help you recover. And to those people we owe everything.

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