Child rights not charity

Deep cleaning my desk, I unearthed a 1989 booklet on the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Had the USA finally ratified this UN Convention? Alas. We join Somalia as the only two countries not ratifying the document in any form.

The U.S. was one of the authors of the convention and President Bill Clinton signed it in 1995. But with ratification we would signal our intent to bring domestic law into alignment with the Convention.

According to my little 1989 pamphlet produced by Foster Parents Plan International and Defence For Children International, the rights can be understood through three main lenses:

  1. The right to survival – through the provision of adequate food, shelter, clean water and primary health care
  2. The right to protection – from abuse, neglect and exploitation, including the right to special protection in times of war
  3. The right to develop – in a safe environment, through the provision of formal education, constructive play, advanced health care and the opportunity to participate in the social, economic, religious and political life of the culture — free from discrimination.”

I wonder what would happen if all nonprofits that work in the interests of children started referencing the Convention on the Rights of the Child in their values statements, in their planning and in their communications.

To borrow from the Child Rights Information Network,  how would a shift in our thinking from acts based in charity to activism in defense of international law on the rights of children influence the way we approach our work for kids? Could it shift the perspective of our communities?

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