Friday, November 26, 2010
U.S. Won't Support Children's Rights
Back in 2008, there was some hope that the United States would take action with other countries to stop the travesty of child soldiers. Congress passed the Child Soldiers Prevention Act, and it was signed into law by President Bush. This law would deny United States aid to any country where children served as soldiers. The law wasn't a cure-all, but at least it did something.
When President Obama was elected, many of us on the left thought this law would be enforced, and maybe even more could be done. After all, don't the Democrats pride themselves on protecting and expanding human rights (and surely children are humans)? We were wrong. It has now become apparent that the United States is not really serious about enforcing the law, and the Democrats (at least those currently in power) aren't really serious about rights when it comes to children.
Last month President Obama decided that four countries (who all have child soldiers) should be exempt from the Child Soldiers Prevention Act. Why are these four countries (Chad, Congo, Sudan, Yemen) not required to eliminate child soldiers or lose American aid? Because they support American foreign policy goals. The president has ordered that military aid be continued to these countries.
It turns out that the government figures the law should only apply to our enemies, and not to countries we consider to be friendly to our policies. This effectively neuters the law and makes it totally ineffective. We already deny aid to our enemies, so if the law doesn't apply to our friends then it is useless.
I guess this shouldn't surprise anyone since the United States is one of only two countries in the world that refuses to recognize that children even have rights (and the other country, Somolia, doesn't have a functioning government). Every country in the world, even those who normally aren't considered as guardians of human rights in general, has ratified and signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child (which guarantees certain basic rights to all children).
And it's not like the Convention is a recent document that the United States needs time to study. It was written in 1989 -- 21 years ago. There has been plenty of time during the administrations of both parties to ratify the Convention and nothing has been done. Why doesn't the United States believe children should have rights like all other humans?