The Influence of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on Corporal Punishment – A Comparative Look
Oregon Review of International Law, Vol. 10, p. 189, 2008
54 Pages Posted: 30 Nov 2009
Date Written: November 27, 2009
The article is about the comparative influence of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child ("UNCRC") on different countries' legal treatment of light corporal punishment inflicted on children by their parents for educational purposes. The main question this article will address is whether and how changes in approaches to human rights and children's rights have affected the legal attitude towards corporal punishment of children in different countries of the world. The question of whether the UNCRC bans corporal punishment has not been settled. Some scholars think it does, others think it bans only serious violence, and still others think it merely implies such a ban. The article examines these opinions, along with the relevant corresponding articles in the Convention. Then it examines different responses to the question of the influence of the UNCRC on the different legal attitudes towards corporal punishment in different countries. The article discusses countries that ratified the UNCRC but did not ban corporal punishment: the United Kingdom and Canada, that interpret the UNCRC as not necessarily banning the use of corporal punishment. Then it deals with Israeli law. The Israeli Supreme Court created a criminal-law ban on corporal punishment. The court held that corporal punishment is contrary both to the UNCRC and to Israel's Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty ("Basic Law"), a part of the Israeli Constitution, that protects human rights and children's rights. Cyprus reached the same conclusion but enacted the prohibition in criminal legislation. Therefore, it seems that 'the interpretation of the UNCRC varies among different countries' domestic laws. Then the article describes several European countries that enacted a civil human right protecting children from corporal punishment. Some of them (like the Scandinavian countries) did it prior to the creation of the UNCRC, and some of them (like Germany) after its creation. Finally, the article discusses countries that did not ratify the UNCRC, such as the United States. Throughout the discussion, The article tries to answer two questions: whether the UNCRC bans corporal punishment or not; and if it does, whether it is possible to ratify the UNCRC without banning corporal punishment completely. The answers will shed light on the question of whether there will have to be a real change in the legal attitude of the U.S. jurisdictions towards corporal punishment.
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