Friday, September 10, 2010

The U.S. and Somalia, Strange Bedfellows

It has been over 20 years since playing an active role in drafting the UN Convention on the Right of the Child, and still the U.S. has not ratified the treaty.

Only one other country has failed to ratify the treaty as well: Somalia.

As a world leader, it is important for the U.S. to show commitment to both the UN and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Former UNICEF director Carol Bellamy says that the decision not to sign the treaty "undermines U.S. leadership when it comes to protecting children around the world." In other words, how can the U.S. ask any nation to be proactive about the rights of child soldiers (as they have done with Somalia and neighbor, Uganda) when the failure to sign the treaty can be cited as evidence of our lack of commitment to the rights of children.

Earlier this week at the Council on Foreign Relations, Secretary of State Clinton declared "a new American moment when our global leadership is essential, even if we must often lead in new ways." Later, Clinton explicitly communicated U.S. support of the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Right of the Child. If this is the case, now seems like a good time for ratification of the treaty and Americans need to express their concern.

Make your voice heard as a supporter of the rights of children worldwide and encourage the U.S. to stand up as an international leader. Sign a petition by the International Rescue Committee that encourages President Obama to ratify the bill here.

-Erica Stetz