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Ratification by the United States of the Convention on the Rights of the Child: Pros and Cons from a Child’s Rights Perspective

The ANNALS of American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 633, p. 17, 2011

Harvard Public Law Working Paper No. 13-08

22 Pages Posted: 10 May 2011 Last revised: 9 Apr 2013

Elizabeth Bartholet

Harvard Law School

Date Written: 2011

Abstract

This article discusses the significance of the United States’ ratification of the CRC, concluding that even if the treaty is not self-executing, ratification would make a major difference. It would enable the United States to better promote children’s rights abroad, and it would push the United States to develop its domestic law in dramatically new directions that empower children. The CRC provides children with powerful affirmative rights and imposes reciprocal duties on nation-states. It provides rights to participate, including rights to be heard and to make decisions on personal and political matters; rights to receive important benefits, including health, support, and education; rights to protection against maltreatment; and rights to nurturing parental care. All this contrasts with U.S. law’s negative rights tradition, its emphasis on parental rights, limited recognition of children’s rights, and related restriction of state power to protect children. U.S. ratification could have a positive impact, particularly in connection with parental relationship rights and related maltreatment issues. However, there is also a risk of negative impact, given the problematic CRC provisions on international and transracial adoption. The solution is ratification with a reservation regarding Articles 20 and 21.

Keywords: children, international adoption, treaties

Suggested Citation

Bartholet, Elizabeth, Ratification by the United States of the Convention on the Rights of the Child: Pros and Cons from a Child’s Rights Perspective (2011). The ANNALS of American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 633, p. 17, 2011 ; Harvard Public Law Working Paper No. 13-08. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1833621

Elizabeth Bartholet (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

Hauser Hall 422
1563 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
(617) 495-3128 (Phone)
(617) 496-4947 (Fax)

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