Protect Our Children from a Dangerous U.N. Treaty
Why America Should NOT Ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child

Introducing the CRC

by E. Douglas Clark


In what may be the greatest assault ever on parental rights in America, liberal leaders are pushing for Senate ratification of a United Nations treaty called the Convention on the Rights of the Child, or CRC. If ratified, it would:


  • radically encroach on our sovereignty;
  • subject us to an independent UN committee of “experts” in Geneva;
  • allow the government in all cases to determine what is in a child’s best interest;
  • intrude on parents’ rights to teach values and faith; and
  • grant to children autonomous rights, which many believe would include access to controversial sexual information and even abortion.
Good Intentions
To protect children is a noble aim, and the United Nations has taken major steps in that direction. Shortly after its own creation, the UN created the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, or UNICEF, to provide relief for children in countries devastated by World War II. Later, UNICEF (with the name changed to the United Nations Children’s Fund) became a permanent part of the UN, with an expanded mission to serve the children of the world.

The UN’s concern for children continued in its 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which declared that motherhood and children are deserving of “special care and assistance.” The UN sought to encourage such special care by its 1959 Declaration on the Rights of the Child. Then, in a laudable effort to strengthen protection of the world’s children, the UN worked toward creating an international treaty (called a “convention”). It became a reality with the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, enacted with reservations expressed by various countries. The treaty is unquestionably well-intentioned and addresses many important areas of concern for the protection of children. But good intentions do not assure good laws.


President Obama’s Embarrassment and Commitment 

Within a year of its enactment in 1989, some 130 nations had already ratified the treaty, and today it is the most widely ratified human rights treaty in the world. Only two nations have not joined: war-torn Somalia, and the United States. The Clinton Administration signed the CRC in 1995, but the Senate has never ratified (although it has ratified the Convention’s two optional protocols: one on children in armed conflict, the other on child trafficking, prostitution, and pornography).


That the US has never ratified the treaty itself is galling to President Obama. “It is embarrassing,” he has stated, “to find ourselves in the company of Somalia.” President Obama’s Ambassador to the UN is Susan Rice, who during her Senate confirmation hearing referred to the CRC as “a very important treaty and a noble cause…. There can be no doubt that [President Obama] and Secretary Clinton and I share a commitment to the objectives of this treaty and will take it up as an early question,” she stated, “to ensure that the United States is playing and resumes its global leadership role in human rights.”


What’s in a Name?

One of the Senators pushing hard for ratification is Barbara Boxer. “Children deserve basic human rights,” she declared, “and the convention protects children’s rights by setting some standards here so that the most vulnerable people of society will be protected.” Boxer’s words sound appealing. Who could be against protecting children? Indeed, who would dare oppose a treaty bearing the name “Convention on the Rights of the Child”?


But if, as a Chinese proverb holds, it is the beginning of wisdom to call things by their right names, then the title “Convention on the Rights of the Child” may be misleading. For however noble the motives behind it, and however good the aspirations of its proponents, and whatever good provisions it does contain, yet the fact remains that, in the words of law professor Bruce Hafen, the treaty “includes an unprecedented approach to the autonomy of children” and thereby jeopardizes parents' rights to protect and guide their children. 

Trumping Our Laws and Handing over Parental Rights to the Government 

Because of our Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, ratification of this international treaty would make it “the supreme law of the land,” superior to all other state and federal laws. This would disrupt our federal system created under the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, which reserves to the states all powers not specifically granted to the federal government.


Even more troubling is the CRC’s approach to allow government to step in and, without any showing of any harm on the part of parents, to override parental decisions based on what the government believes is in the child’s best interest. Michael Smith, president of the Home School Legal Defense Association, writes:


This is contrary to traditional American law, which provides that absent proof of harm, courts and social workers simply do not have the authority to intervene in parent-child relationships and decision-making. The importance of this tradition and practice is that the government may not substitute its judgment for that of the parent until there is proof of harm to the child sufficient to justify governmental intervention. It is clear that in two very important areas of the parent-child relationship, religion and education, there will be potential for tremendous conflict [if the CRC is ratified].


Becoming Subject to an International Committee of “Experts”

As if all this were not bad enough, the CRC places each nation under the oversight of an unelected and unaccountable United Nations committee of eighteen “independent experts” who meet in Geneva. This Committee on the Rights of the Child monitors compliance with the treaty and the committee’s interpretation of it. The committee requires regular reports from each country and then provides “recommendations.” While the committee has no official enforcement authority, these recommendations can carry substantial weight. 


In a study entitled “How U.N. Conventions On Women's and Children's Rights Undermine Family, Religion, and Sovereignty,” Patrick Fagan of the Family Research Council tells that the Committee on the Rights of the Child is “targeting patterns of behavior and social norms that have had the greatest positive effects on society and the individual:… motherhood and fatherhood, caring for children in the family, chastity, and the special role of religion.” Fagan points to several examples of the committee’s recommendations.


  • The committee criticized the United Kingdom for the fact that parents were allowed to remove their children from sex-education classes without giving due consideration to the wishes of the children themselves.
  • The committee criticized Austria for not providing a legal minimum age for medical counseling and treatment without parental consent (“targeted specifically,” notes Fagan, “at removing parents’ control over the moral formation of their children and the parameters of their children's sexual behavior.”)
  • The committee told Belize that it needed to establish legal mechanisms to allow children to challenge their parents, and criticized the government for not allowing children to seek medical or legal counseling without parental consent.
Why would we Americans submit ourselves to an outside body in this vital area of parent-child relationships? Why would we voluntarily subject ourselves to global governance by handing over a key part of our national sovereignty to a foreign committee? 

What Children Really Need 

Allan Carlson, President of the Howard Center for Family, Religion, and Society, in speaking of the CRC, has emphasized that children’s real needs include the right to a father and a mother united in the bonds of marriage, the right to religious faith, and the right to mature physically, emotionally, and morally. (“How to Make the World Truly Safe for Children.”)



Inscribed on a small plaque in the Warsaw Uprising Museum are words that echoed through the city in the last days of the Polish resistance against the Nazis in late 1944: “Save the children—ours, yours… Collapsed buildings we can rebuild—the lost young generation we cannot.” 
Our children are our most precious asset, the bridge to tomorrow, our hope for a better world. We must not allow well-intentioned but unwise intrusion by government to interfere with our protecting, providing for, and teaching them.
Despite its high-sounding title, and notwithstanding the good intentions behind it, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) poses a grave threat to our children.
The most informative and helpful online resource about the CRC is


Ten things you need to know about the structure of the CRC:

  • It is a treaty which creates binding rules of law.  It is no mere statement of altruism.1.
  • Its effect would be binding on American families, courts, and policy-makers.2.
  • Children of other nations would not be impacted or helped in any direct way by our ratification.3.
  • The CRC would automatically override almost all American laws on children and families because of the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause in Article VI.4.
  • The CRC has some elements that are self-executing, while others would require implementing legislation.  Federal courts would have the power to determine which provisions were self-executing.5.
  • The courts would have the power to directly enforce the provisions that are self-executing.6.
  • Congress would have the power to directly legislate on all subjects necessary to comply with the treaty.  This would constitute the most massive shift of power from the states to the federal government in American history.7.
  • A committee of 18 experts from other nations, sitting in Geneva, has the authority to issue official interpretations of the treaty which are entitled to binding weight in American courts and legislatures.  This effectively transfers ultimate authority for all policies in this area to this foreign committee.8.
  • Under international law, the treaty overrides even our Constitution.9.
  • Reservations, declarations, or understandings intended to modify our duty to comply with this treaty will be void if they are determined to be inconsistent with the object and purpose of the treaty.10.

Ten things you need to know about the substance of the CRC:

  • Children would have the ability to choose their own religion while parents would only have the authority to give their children advice about religion.13.
  • The best interest of the child principle would give the government the ability to override every decision made by every parent if a government worker disagreed with the parent’s decision.14.
  • A child’s “right to be heard” would allow him (or her) to seek governmental review of every parental decision with which the child disagreed.15.
  • According to existing interpretation, it would be illegal for a nation to spend more on national defense than it does on children’s welfare.16.
  • Children would acquire a legally enforceable right to leisure.17.
  • Christian schools that refuse to teach "alternative worldviews" and teach that Christianity is the only true religion "fly in the face of article 29" of the treaty.18.
  • Allowing parents to opt their children out of sex education has been held to be out of compliance with the CRC.19.
  • Children would have the right to reproductive health information and services, including abortions,  without parental knowledge or consent.20. 
  • Parents would no longer be able to administer reasonable spankings to their children.11.
  • A murderer aged 17 years and 11 months and 29 days at the time of his crime could no longer be sentenced to life in prison.12.

Additional Analysis by



Helpful Links...

Text of CRC: Read the Treaty

CRC: Status and Reservations

CRC Committee


Speaking of the Family...

“The family is the nucleus of civilization.”—Historian Will Durant

“To put the world right in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order.” —Confucius

"In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future." —Alex Haley

“There is no doubt that it is around the family and the home that all the greatest virtues, the most dominating virtues of human society, are created, strengthened and maintained.” —Sir Winston Churchill

"The family is a universal and irreplaceable community rooted in human nature and the basis of all societies at all times. As the cradle of life and love for each new generation, the family is the primary source of personal identity, self-esteem and support for children. It is also the first and foremost school of life, uniquely suited to teaching children integrity, character, morals, responsibility, service and wisdom."—Wade Horn

"Perhaps the greatest social service that can be rendered by anybody to the country and to mankind is to bring up a family." —George Bernard Shaw

"A happy family is but an earlier heaven." —John Browning

“We are living in a decisive and very important moment. If we have bad laws concerning the institutions that are fundamental for the life of society, then we will all suffer and, after us, the generations to come. The situation that has been created in our world with regard to marriage and the family calls for all our efforts.” —Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo




"Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph." Haile Selassie




Contact Your Senators


Read What Experts Say...
Allan C. Carlson:

"The U.N.’s 'Convention on the Rights of the Child' of 1989 contains measures that subvert the authority of parents over their children; strip away the authority of religious faith and tradition in favor of a politicized and radical social science; and prevent nations and peoples from sheltering their own unique cultures. In Article 13, for example, we read: '[T]he child shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other medium of the child’s choice.' To protect this 'right,' the state imposes itself between parent and child. To put it simply, this understanding of “rights” is the polar opposite of that found in Article 26 of the Universal Declaration (which states 'Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children')." —from "Globalizing Family Values"


Richard G. Wilkins:
"[Another] development in international law that I wish to discuss is the novel notion that children within families are really just miniature adults, with full rights – subject to governmental, not parental oversight – to privacy, association and speech. This notion, if taken to its logical conclusion, goes a good deal toward abolishing, not only childhood itself, but the very idea of parental rights. Prior to the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, no legal system in the world granted autonomy rights to children. The Convention, however, does just that. The Convention, beyond question, is well intentioned. But, its sweeping and unprecedented creation of autonomy rights for children may, in the long run, threaten children’s well being.” —from International Law, Social Change, and the Family


Bruce C. Hafen and Jonathan O. Hafen:

“In general, the CRC's autonomy model ironically undermines the process of education and nurturing that every child needs to build an autonomous self…. Whatever the drafters' understanding of paternalism, their document resolves too many tough issues by erring on the side of children's autonomy. This stance places the full weight of the United Nations behind the idea that parents and other adults should leave children alone, letting them speak for their own welfare and choose for themselves how their needs should be met. This approach confuses children's needs for nutrition, education, and protection (with which the UN has historically, and wisely, been concerned) with children's alleged right to make autonomous choices…. Despite increasing autonomy rhetoric, the American legal system limits children's autonomy in the short run in order to maximize their development of actual autonomy in the long run…. To short-circuit this process by legally granting-rather than actually teaching-autonomy to children ignores the realities of education and child development to the point of abandoning children to a mere illusion of genuine autonomy.” —from "Abandoning Children to Their Rights"


Michael Farris: 

“If this treaty is made binding upon our country, the government would have the power to intervene in any child’s life to advance its definition of “the best interests of the child.” The scenarios that could occur—and are occurring—as a result of this dangerous notion are both manifold and frightening…. In essence, the U[nited] N[ations] CRC applies the legal status of abusive parents to all parents. This means that the burden of proof falls on the parent to prove to the State that they are good parents—when it should fall upon the State to prove that their investigation is not without cause.” —from 



Congressional Research Service Report 

(discussing CRC provisions

that opponents believe

are problematic):


  • Privacy—Article 16(1) states, “No child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy.... ” Some have interpreted this to mean that parents may not have the right to search their children’s rooms or be notified if a child is arrested or undergoes an abortion.
  • Freedom of expression—Article 13(1) provides that the child shall have the “right to freedom of expression,” including “freedom to seek, receive, and impact information and ideas of all kinds.” Some contend that this could be interpreted to allow children to speak their minds at all times, regardless of parental authority or discipline.
  • Freedom of thought, conscience, and religion—Some maintain that Article 14(1), which states that “States Parties shall respect the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion,” might give children the right to object to their parents’ religious beliefs or training.
  • Access to information—Article 17 states that States Parties shall ensure that “the child has access to information and material from a diversity of national and international sources.... ” Some interpret this to mean that children have a right to access any type of information regardless of their parents’ preferences, including television, books, and other sources they find objectionable.
  • Education—Critics assert that Article 28(1), which states that States Parties recognize “the right of the child to education,” could lead to the government or CRC Committee mandating public schooling or interfering with the right of parents to home-school or send their children to private school. Some are concerned that Article 29(1), which addresses elements that shall be included in a child’s education, could lead to government interference in private school and home-school curricula.
  • Corporal punishment—Article 19(1) states, “no child should be subjected to physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation,” at school or by a parent or legal guardian. Some interpret this to mean that parents may not be allowed to discipline their children though corporal punishment, such as spanking
  • Freedom of association—Some are concerned that Article 15(1), which calls on States Parties to "recognized the rights of the child to freedom of association and to freedom of peaceful assembly" could give children the right to associate with people that his or her parents do not approve of, including cults or gangs.