The Only UN Nation Not to Ratify the Rights of the Child: United States of America

17 November 2015 Written by  

Facts about the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child 21United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said that "the one thing all children have in common is their rights. Every child has the right to survive and thrive, to be educated, to be free from violence and abuse, to participate and to be heard." Reference A

In the United States of America, we may share Secretary-General Ban’s sentiments, but we have never officially done so by ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. On November 20th, 1989, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child as a human rights framework to ensure well-being of children. The treaty articulates a global commitment to rights for children such as freedom from discrimination; safety; education; and access to basic needs like housing, food and clothing. (See some specific examples below.)

Since that time, every United Nations member nation has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child except one: the United States of America.  The most recent nations to ratify were Somalia and South Sudan, earlier this year.  Now, the United States stands alone as the only nation in the UN not to officially ratify this international commitment to children’s rights.

The United States played a pivotal role in drafting provisions for the treaty during the Reagan administration. The Clinton administration signed it twenty years ago in 1995.  However, the President must also send it to the Senate for ratification. President Obama has called our nation’s failure to ratify “embarrassing” but he has not sent the treaty to the Senate for ratification. Reference B

This Friday is Universal Children’s Day, commemorating the 26th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Join children’s advocates nationwide in commemorating Universal Children’s Day by using social media to urge President Obama to send the Convention on the Rights of the Child to the Senate for ratification, with the hashtags #USstandsalone and #SendCRCtoSenate.


I have the right to the best health possible3

I have the right to a good enough standard of living1

I have the right to be protected from being hurt or badly treated

I have the right to special protection and help

If I have a disability I am entitled to.1

If I am put in prison I have the right to be held separately from adults.2

For 30 years now, Voices for Utah Children has called on our state, federal and local leaders to put children’s needs first. But the work is not done. The children of 30 years ago now have children of their own. Too many of these children are growing up in poverty, without access to healthcare or quality educational opportunities.

How can you be involved?

Make a tax-deductible donation to Voices for Utah Children—or join our Network with a monthly donation of $20 or more.  Network membership includes complimentary admission to Network events with food, socializing, and opportunity to meet child advocacy experts. And don't forget to join our listserv to stay informed!

We look forward to the future of Voices for Utah Children and we hope you will be a part of our next 30 years.

Special thanks to American Express for sponsoring our 30th Anniversary Year. Amex

April Young Bennett 300April Young Bennett, Communications Director, joined the organization in 2014. She received her Master of Public Administration from the University of Arizona and her Bachelor in Community Health Education from Utah State University. Prior to joining Voices for Utah Children, April worked for the Utah Department of Health for over a decade, addressing health disparities among minorities and other underserved Utahns. She completed internships and fellowships with the VA Salt Lake City Health Care System, the Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy and the U.S. Senate.