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UN Week – 10/22/12

October 26, 2012

This blog entry is written by members of our blogging community and expresses those experts’ views alone.

John and Douglas Carey, Editors

In this issue: children’s rights; International Criminal Court.

Children’s rights.

We, the US, signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1995 but have never ratified it. Its strictures against corporal punishment may be part of the reason. But whatever the reason, we cannot help but feel uneasy when our diplomats declaim in defense of children; however laudable may be the policies they profess, it can’t help but ring a bit hollow.
Here are excerpts from a new US oration in defense of children, pronounced on October 19th in the General Assembly’s Third Committee, the one that deals with human rights. The speaker is not identified in the Department of State press release that sets forth the speech “as prepared.” Here are portions of it:

“Our thoughts go out today to 14-year-old Malala Yousufzai, who spoke out for the right of all Pakistanis, especially girls, to an education. In response to her bravery in standing up for the rights of herself and others, she was brutally shot by extremist thugs who believe girls do not have the right to an education. This violent attack reminds us of the challenges that girls are confronted with every day, ranging from lack of opportunities for an education, to lack of basic health care, food, and, nutrition, to discrimination and violence – all solely due to their gender.

“Girls also need protection from child marriage, and we believe that equal access to education is one part of the solution. Experience shows us that elevating the status of girls is critical to achieving prosperity, stability, and security. Doing so is not only the right thing to do—it is the smart thing to do. An estimated 10 million girls are married every year before they reach the age of 18, many at ages even younger. Early marriage threatens girls’ health and education, and robs them of the opportunity to reach their full potential. We are concerned, for example, by findings of the Special Rapporteur on Iran documenting marriages of Iranian girls as young as nine years old. One of the best ways to tackle the practice of early marriage is to enroll and keep adolescent girls in school. And yet, far too many girls in the developing world fail to make the transition from primary to secondary education.

“The United States is committed to addressing and preventing early or forced marriage, and we will intensify our diplomacy and development efforts to end this practice, including by promoting girls’ education.

“Finally, we are compelled to address the tragic situation of the innocent children in Syria. Daily, Syrian children are the victims of killing and maiming, arbitrary arrest, detention, torture and ill-treatment, including sexual violence, and some have even been used as human shields. The increasing frequency of these atrocities over the past 18 months is particularly alarming, and is further evidence that the international community must do more to support humanitarian assistance and political transition in Syria.

“The United States has a deep, unwavering commitment to promoting and protecting the rights of children in our own country and around the world. We will continue to work with the international community to ensure that human rights are a reality for all of our children.”

International Criminal Court.

Another example of US embarrassment was the speech given October 17th in the Security Council during a debate on peace and justice. Here are portions of it:

“Although the United States is not a party to the Rome Statute, we recognize that the ICC can be an important tool for accountability. We have actively engaged with the ICC Prosecutor and Registrar to consider how we can support specific prosecutions already underway, and we’ve responded positively to informal requests for assistance. We will continue working with the ICC to identify practical ways to cooperate – particularly in areas such as information sharing and witness protection – on a case by case basis, as consistent with U.S. policy and law.”

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