Happy 25th Birthday?
I remember my 25th birthday—a quarter of a century! It felt like a major accomplishment. It has been just as significant celebrating each of my daughters’ 25th birthdays, with pride in them both and accompanying gratitude. Somehow a 25th birthday feels like a really special milestone that deserves song and rejoicing.
Another 25th birthday has just crept up, without much fanfare, and somehow asking you to join me in a rousing chorus of “Happy Birthday” won’t do it. Imagine receiving a beautifully wrapped present, with a gift card that speaks of the great significance of what lies within...
…but when you open this lovely gift, the box is empty.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly on November 20, 1989. It was ratified by more countries than any other human rights treaty in history. Only two countries have not ratified this treaty: Somalia (which has no recognized government) and the United States.
I would have missed the CRC quarter-century milestone had I not seen the post, “Children’s Rights are Human Rights,” submitted by Scott Hirschfeld on the Teaching Tolerance blog site. Hirschfeld is Director of Education at the U.S. Fund for UNICEF (the United Nations Children's Fund).
And then I remembered reading about an organization committed to advocating for U.S. ratification of the treaty—the Campaign for U.S. Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. I was very pleased to see that the Unitarian Universalist Association is a partner organization. It’s too late to celebrate this birthday with the CRC, but let’s work together to make sure that the gift box contains a ratified treaty before another 25 years go by.
The Campaign for U.S. Ratification of the CRC offers resources online to help you:
- Talk with your friends and colleagues about the CRC and ratification.
- Raise public awareness about the CRC and about the need to ratify it.
- Ask the President to begin the State Department Review process to prepare a recommendation for ratification.
- Tell your Senator how you feel about the CRC and U.S. ratification, so they know the issue matters to their constituents.
- Ask other elected officials at all levels of government to push the Senate toward ratification.
- Involve children and youth in advocating for ratification of the CRC and for international efforts to improve their own rights.
Find a child-friendly version of the CRC (PDF) ("Article 19: You have the right to be protected from being hurt and mistreated, in body or mind."). The full, official text is posted on the website of the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The goals of the CRC are promoted by these children's books: For Every Child, by Caroline Castle (2001) and I Have the Right to Be a Child, by Alain Serres (2012).
Websites with more information include Teaching Tolerance and Teach UNICEF.
Unitarian Universalists have a long history of working with the United Nations. The UU United Nations Office began more than 50 years ago, in 1962, and can be reached online.