THE WRONGS OF THE UNITED NATIONS’ RIGHTS OF THE CHILD
By Charles H. Francis, Esq.
Mrs Babette Francis, president of Endeavour Forum, Australia, has given her kind consent for the NCHR, HEF and Family Integrity to publish her late husband’s, Charles H. Francis, essay “The Wrongs of The United Nations’ Rights of The Child” on their websites.
Ruby Harrold-Claesson and Barbara Smith
August 18, 2010.
After World War II, when the United Nations first became established, most people looked to it with hope for the future. Primarily it was envisaged as a world authority, which would serve to prevent wars and act as mediator and arbitrator when disputes developed between member nations. Secondly, as the gross violations of human rights by the Nazi regime became more fully known, the United Nations was seen also as a world body to establish and protect human rights throughout the world.
This essay discusses human rights in the context of the present “rights of the child” mentality prevailing at the United Nations. Legitimate concern for the world’s children has, unfortunately, given way to a dangerous and false vision of an autonomous child with the same objectionable humanist “rights” as any adult. This vision, if given legal effect or legitimacy of any kind, poses a real threat to the authority of parents and to the integrity of the family.
IN THE BEGINNING: CHRISTIAN INFLUENCE AT THE UNITED NATIONS AND THE BEST INTERESTS OF CHILDREN
Most of the countries that played a major part in the early development of the United Nations and in the drafting of its first declarations had a strong underlying Christian and thus pro-family ethos.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the General Assembly fifty years ago, is evidence of this, asserting, as it does, “Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance,” in Article 25(2), and declaring, “Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children,” in Article 26(3). The United Nations made similar declarations after this that tended to focus on improving children’s health, nutrition, safety, and education.
There appeared to be a general agreement that such interests were ordinarily best served by keeping children within integrated families and under the care, guidance and control of their parents.
THE TURN TO HUMANISM AND TO DELIBERATE AMBIGUITY
In 1989, the United Nations General Assembly introduced a new Convention on the Rights of the Child. It was promptly signed by 130 nations with, it would seem, singularly little debate or scrutiny and even less intelligent discussion on the legal effect of its provisions.
This Convention was full of platitudinous phrases and contained much ambiguous language. However, many prominent lawyers became aware of the problems and traps within it and lectured and wrote on its proper interpretation, warning their countries not to sign or ratify it. Most of the representatives of the various nations, which rushed like so many lemmings to sign the Convention, probably had no real understanding of its meaning. It was feted as a Convention in the best interests of children, and those nations that signed it were said to demonstrate a commitment to the prevention of child abuse. Those who expressed concern about possible interpretations of the Convention were falsely assured that parental rights were fully preserved by Article Five.
A number of the supporters of this 1989 Children’s Rights Convention also maintained, quite falsely, that its main object was the protection of children, and that it did no more than provide for those rights that were already law in more advanced democracies such as the United States of America. In reality, had legislation setting out similar provisions to those of the Convention been introduced into the House of Representatives in the United States (or in Australia), it would probably never have become law.
By 1989, however, many supporters of humanist philosophies had already realized it was far easier to implement their ideas by incorporating them in United Nations’ Conventions, which their countries might thereafter ratify, rather than by attempting the more difficult (if not impossible) task of trying to pass such provisions through their countries’ legislatures, where they were likely to receive much closer scrutiny, and where the legal interpretation and actual effect of the provisions might be the subject of proper analysis and debate.
In essence, the 1989 Children’s Rights Convention was humanist (not Christian). Humanism denies and rejects God (as well as prayer, any divine purpose and theism generally) and all religions that place God above human desires. Despite its followers’ claims of neutrality, humanism is a secular religion, and is more dogmatic than any church teaching. Humanism recognizes and accepts abortion, euthanasia, suicide and countless other immoral acts, and works for the establishment of a completely secular society, which is its goal. It also realizes that the traditional family, marked by strong parental authority, is an obstacle to this goal and, therefore, seeks to dismantle it.
In consequence, the 1989 Convention gave to children a sphere of autonomy and freedom from control (in particular a freedom from parental control) and thereby introduced a radically new concept of children having rights entirely separate from their parents, with the government accepting the responsibility for protecting the child from the power of parents.
Professor Bruce Hafen of Brigham Young University has wisely pointed out that parents who subscribe to “children’s rights” thinking and “leave their children alone” so they develop their personalities are irresponsibly abrogating their parental duties, leaving their children a ready prey to a wide range of immoral and evil influences.
Indeed, in England some of the strongest support for “children’s rights” has come from well identified homosexual and pedophile organizations, which long ago realized that the easiest way to obtain access to children was to demand their freedom from any form of restraint, thereby exposing them to the predatory behavior of those who would harm them.
While some Articles of the Convention are praiseworthy (for example its prohibitions on slavery and child prostitution), there are five Articles in particular (12, 13, 14, 15 and 16, discussed below) that would create grave difficulties for parents seeking to exercise authority over children. These Articles appear to be the spearhead of a very serious invasion of parental rights.
ARTICLES 12 TO 16
Article 12 is the first to provide a charter of autonomous children’s rights. Its implications therefore require close attention. It assures to a child the right to express views freely in all matters affecting the child, the view of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.
But who is to determine what weight is to be attached to those views? Obviously not the parents alone. Article 12 enables children to ventilate their disagreements with parental rulings in primarily public and legal forums. Carried to its logical conclusion, the child will be able to demand state intervention to challenge any parental conduct the child doesn’t like (or conduct the child claims is not in his “best interest”). This is an absurd threat to parental authority.
Article 13 assures to the child the right of freedom of expression, which includes “freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds.” This Article will prevent parents from protecting their children from objectionable or immoral materials, often disseminated in schools. A recent case in Australia provides a most disturbing example: When a family tried to persuade their daughter’s school that some of its curriculum was inappropriate for young secondary students, the Department of Secondary Education invoked the provisions of the Convention as authority for overriding parental rights and wishes.
We would do well, at this juncture, to consider some material that the United Nations has already approved for children, since we can assume that the Convention on the Rights of the Child would support the unrestricted dissemination of such material to them.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has already produced two sex education films, “The Blue Pigeon” and “Music for Two.” “The Blue Pigeon” is a cartoon targeted at 10- to 12- year-old children, and graphically depicts sexual intercourse between two children attending a children’s picnic. “Music for Two” depicts the fantasies of a young girl who foresees herself as tired, overworked and overburdened when married, and her husband as indifferent and uninterested. By contrast, sexual intercourse with a boy neighbor is depicted as a happy, commitment-free sexual relationship.
It takes no genius to discern this message of approval for sexual activity outside of marriage and even for children at a very young age. Parents must understand that this is the type of “information” the United Nations wishes to “impart” to their children.
Article 14 declares “the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.” The Convention affords parents and guardians only the limited right to “direct” children in the exercise of this right (although there is no real protection for this right; the state merely gives it “respect,” which, without means of enforcement, is somewhat meaningless). “Direction” of course implies that a parent will not be able to require a young child to go to church or Sunday school if the child does not wish to do so.
American Christian leader Dr. James Dobson has suggested that the real freedom given by Article 14 is freedom from parental control in the area of religion. Parents are relegated to providing a state-monitored influence over the religious practices of their own children.
Article 15 “recognizes” the right of the child to freedom of association and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly. Such rights make it difficult, if not impossible, for parents to control the company their children keep, even though that company may be truly harmful. The Convention does not balance these “children’s rights” against those of parents (which should always serve the best interests of children), however valid and compelling. In some Australian towns where young teenage vandalism and crime is rife, teenage curfews have been introduced. Usually they have proved successful, but civil libertarians have already complained that curfews are a breach of Article 15 of the Convention. In this regard, the Convention appears to be directly opposed to the view of the United States Supreme Court, which has held such curfews lawful.
Article 16 protects the child’s right not to be “subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy.” The inclusion of the word arbitrary may permit children to exclude parents from anything they consider private, including medical treatments, and presumably activity in the child’s bedroom or any other part of the home set aside for the child’s use. This Article greatly strengthens the position of Planned Parenthood, which routinely puts young girls on birth control pills without notice to (much less consent from) their parents. The United States Supreme Court has, of course, already upheld privacy rights for children in the context of abortion and contraception. Mature minors (maturity being determined by a judge) can have abortions without any parental involvement, and immature minors may have abortions if the judge thinks it is in their best interests.
THE NEED TO COMBAT THE UNITED NATIONS’ “RIGHTS OF THE CHILD”
The picture should be clear by now: The Convention is a very serious invasion of parental rights. A careful analysis of its terms proves that it is anti-parent. It takes many important decisions regarding the well-being of children (on education, philosophy, morality and religion) away from parents and gives them to the State, and ultimately, to the United Nations itself.
Most great civilizations have been destroyed not from without but from within. In almost every such instance, the breakdown of the family was key to the collapse. Responsible parents realize that children (especially adolescent children) need protection from their own actions, which spring from a lack of mature judgment. The Convention’s invasion of parental control can only make this task more difficult, if not impossible.
The new humanist philosophy, increasingly embraced by so many Western democracies today, and brought to the United Nations by their delegates, has enormous potential for harm, especially when applied to our children. The U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child reflects this philosophy and is, in many ways, diametrically opposed to what the United Nations had to offer the world in its 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
We desperately need to re-appraise the United Nations’ present direction. We must realize that those humanist philosophies, which masquerade as a concern for human rights, will end up trampling them — just as the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child pretends to protect children, but damages the parental authority that is their best protection. The humanist element of such documents has the potential to destroy all that is best in Christian civilization, replacing it with a profoundly chaotic, harmful and ultimately evil empire.
 – The United States and Great Britain were foremost among them. To some extent, the drafters of the postwar declarations were using 20th-century national constitutions as their models, adding the protection of the family and the child to those political and civil democratic rights that they wished to identify and preserve.
 – Such declarations included the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959, a valuable document that included Principle 6, providing that “the child shall wherever possible grow up in the care and under the responsibility of his parents.” The 1959 Declaration was in many ways not unlike the 1924 League of Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Child, which had stated that “mankind owes to the child the best it has to give.” The philosophy of the 1959 Declaration was again essentially Christian, and anticipated that, at a later date, there would be further and more detailed provisions.
 – Article 5 reads as follows: States Parties shall respect the responsibilities, rights, and duties of parents or, where applicable, the members of the extended family or community as provided for by local custom, legal guardians or other persons legally responsible for the child, to provide, in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child, appropriate direction and guidance in the exercise by the child of the rights recognized in the present Convention. But who is to decide what constitutes “a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child”? When this Article is read in conjunction with the child’s rights contained in Articles 12 to 16, and with the fact that parents have no right of control, it is apparent that this determination is not necessarily to be left to the parents alone.
 – The obvious legal implications of Articles 12 to 16, once properly understood and publicized (as they were in the U.S. Senate), are likely to lead to their rejection. (In Australia, the adoption of these Articles as Federal law would necessitate an amendment to the Constitution by referendum.)
 – In England, however, some unfortunate features similar to those of the Convention found their way into the Child Act of 1989.
 – Professor Bruce C. Hafen, and Jonathan O. Hafen (1996) Harvard International Law Journal 37(2), pp. 449-491.
 - See “The Fight for the Family” 1998, Lynette Burrows — Family Education Trust, Oxford, England, ISBN 0 906229 14 6.
 - Article 12(2) reads: [T]he child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.
 – Newsweekly (Australia) January 24, 1998, at 17. The U.N. has a track record in this regard: Its Committee on the Rights of the Child has already criticized England for not having a way for children to dissent from parental views. The Committee’s criticism was made in relation to parents withdrawing their children from school sex education programs that the parents deemed unsuitable. U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child, Report on the United Kingdom, February 15, 1995.
 – “Behind the Mask of UNICEF,” Population Research Institute Review (1992), Baltimore, MD.
 – Professor Bruce Hafen, when speaking in Ireland last year, confirmed this interpretation of Article 14 when he said that a parent who might compel his child to go to Mass could well find himself in breach of this Article. The Irish News, March 26, 1997.
 – Satanic cults will no doubt make use (or misuse) of Article 14, which enables them to attract children away from the religions of their families more easily. Such cults are typically interested in young children or adolescents.
 – City of Dallas v. Stenglin, 490 US 19 (1989).