Friday, September 01, 2006

U.N. treaty trumps parental rights

Could a 10-person panel of foreign nationals dictate, with the full weight of U.S. law, how we raise our children? This idea seems far-fetched, even ridiculous, but, unfortunately, it is possible.

The problem stems from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which has been adopted by 192 nations. The treaty creates civil, economic, social and cultural rights for every child. The Clinton administration sought ratification, but the treaty was not approved by the U.S. Senate because of opposition from senators who were concerned it would undermine parental rights.

For example, the convention gives children autonomy regarding the school they attend, the friends they have and the activities they choose. If there is a disagreement, the parent's decisions could be reviewed by a third party. Consequently, parents could be subject to "identification, reporting, referral, investigation, treatment and follow-up."

Many people are probably asking the question -- if the Senate didn't ratify it, why is the convention still a problem for the United States? Unfortunately, this is not the end of the story because the U.S. court system has been incorporating the treaty steadily through a doctrine called "customary international law." This is where U.S. courts look to foreign courts and other international treaties to derive its interpretation of the U.S Constitution.


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