May 4, 2009
In a story published by numerous major media outlets, Georgia State University College of Law Professor Jonathan Todres told the Associated Press there's no evidence that the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child will impinge on parental rights.
The global children's rights treaty has been ratified by every UN member except the United States and Somalia, which currently has no internationally recognized government. The AP article notes that the nearly 20-year-old treaty has ardent supporters and opponents in the U.S., and both sides agree that its chances of ratification — while still uncertain — are better under the Obama administration than at any point in the past.
Opponents of the treaty contend it would enable government officials and a Geneva-based UN committee of experts to interfere with parental authority, according to the AP story, and some are now pushing to add a parental rights amendment to the Constitution as a buffer against it. Its supporters view the treaty as a valuable guidepost for children's basic rights — including education, health care and protection from abuse.
"The reality is that no country that is a party to the convention has seen parental rights encroached," Todres told AP writer David Crary. Todres also noted that while U.N.'s expert committee monitoring the treaty can make recommendations to governments that have ratified the pact, there are no enforcement mechanisms or penalties.
The treaty "has the potential to be a great tool for parents," Todres said. "It's something the parents could use to say, 'My child has the right to freedom of religion and the state cannot encroach on that. My child has education rights, health care rights, and the state cannot ignore that.'"
The article has been published in numerous media outlets, including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution,the Detroit Free Press, The Huffington Post, Salon.com, CBSNews.com, the San Francisco Chronicle, Yahoo! News, MSNBC.com, The Detroit News, The Seattle Times, The Seatle Post-Intelligencer and the London Guardian.
Todres teaches Human Rights and Children, Public Health Law, International and Comparative Health Law, and Torts. His research focuses on children's rights and health law issues. He serves as a regular advisor to non-governmental organizations working to combat commercial sexual exploitation of children. Todres is the co-editor of U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child: An Analysis of Treaty Provisions and Implications of U.S. Ratification (2006) and a number of articles on children's rights and health law issues.