If I asked you to name the only two countries in the world that have not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, what countries would you name? If you want to first do a quick read, even just skimming, of the fifty-four articles in this document of the United Nations, maybe that might help. You’ll find that it talks about very basic right, recognizing that “the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”
The answer: Somalia and the United States of America.
Yes, the USA is in the company of a failed state on this issue. I am sure that there are complex political issues that I might not fully comprehend. But, somehow, all other countries on earth were able to work through their own challenges to recognize the special rights that children have.
We have seen over and over again that words written on paper do not translate to action and real life. Children’s rights are abused in every country, and especially sad is to see how the most vulnerable of the vulnerable are the greatest victims when it comes to war. The official recognition of basic human rights is, though, an important first step.
I am now on my 14th trip to Darfuri refugee camps in Eastern Chad. When I see the thousands of kids in the camps, I think of my own children and how expectations and standards are so different for each–and all by luck of birth. I will be out here for two weeks, and I’m sad that I will be away from my new baby girl, wondering how much bigger she will be and how many new things she’ll be doing. As I get ready to visit camp Djabal again, having last been there in June, I worry whether some of the babies I met will still be alive!
Today, November 20th, is Universal Children’s Day. To celebrate, please give your kids hugs and take them out for a treat and to have fun. To celebrate some more, please ask President Obama to push through the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.