A Brief Assessment of the 25-Year Effect of the Convention on the Rights of the Child
Lynne Marie Kohm
Regent University - School of Law
March 12, 2014
23 Cardozo Journal of International and Comparative Law (JICL) 323 (2015)
Designed to protect the best interests of children, the primary instrument known for securing human rights for children internationally is the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), established in 1989. Upon this document, it seemed, rested the hope of children around the world for their provision, protection and participation. The Convention has enjoyed a significant role globally and across particular continental regions, becoming the gold standard for the treatment of children in nations where there was previously a legal void for their protection. It has advanced new research to benefit children, fostering a great deal of good will among professionals working with children toward these objectives, and it has provided for a strong foundation of scholarly dialogue on the participation of children in their individual lives and affairs. With early notice of practical problems with the Convention, however, the lack of scholarly debate about the actual merits of the CRC has been troubling, with little discussion of whether the Convention has actually worked to protect children. But, has the CRC improved the day-to-day lives of children? Has it worked to protect them from basic harms perpetrated against them by adults, such as forced combat, or genital mutilation, or sexual prostitution? Has the CRC been a triumph for children or a victory for international convention law? These questions are challenging to answer. What evidence that does exist regarding children in signatory nations reveals that the CRC has not achieved the desired objective set out 25 years ago – to improve the lives of children around the world. Rather, child victims are increasing.
This report first provides a small window of insight regarding the continuation and growth of atrocities experienced by children in numbers large enough to demand attention: child sex trafficking, child slavery, child soldiering, child marriage, and female genital mutilation (FGM). These areas formed the basic core of atrocities which I focused on in a previous publication, yet here at the 25th Anniversary of the CRC current facts and circumstances require now adding child sacrifice to that parade of horribles that march against children regularly within signatory nations. In discussing these issues, the second part of this report challenges not only whether the CRC has been a success for children, but why it has not protected them from such heinous atrocities. The third part of this report discusses what, if anything, can legitimately be done to improve the lives of children in signatory nations away from these atrocities by offering an interdisciplinary approach of legal, governmental, and social professionals toward more than simply CRC implementation, but actual child protection. Creating these connections can work to provide protection to children suffering under such conditions, with the goal of improving the protection of children in their everyday lives.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 30
Keywords: Convention on the Rights of the Child, CRC, protection, child soldiering, child sex trafficking, child marriage, female genital mutilation, child sacrifice, child labor, child slavery
JEL Classification: K10, J10, K18, J11, J12, J17, J13, J15, J16, J18, J19, J29, J39, K11, K12, K13, K14, K19, K30, K33
Date posted: March 14, 2014 ; Last revised: April 18, 2015