"OFF THE RECORD!"
CONVENTION ON THE
RIGHTS OF THE CHILD
(or, Their Plans for your Children)
- The High Commissioner and unborn children in Ireland
- ISPCC pre-election campaign
- Citizen Child: guidance from the ISPCC
- Explosion over Abortion Language rocks Child Summit negotiations, June 2001
- How UN Conventions on Women's and Chidren's Rights Undermine Family, Religion, and Sovereignty (Heritage Foundation, opinion)
- The American experience (from PATRE website)
- The New Relationship... (Implementing the CRC in IRL)
- Comment on Irish Govt's plans (u/c)
- "Our Children - their Lives": the Plan (excerpts)
- "The Fight for the Family", etc: (Comment from UK)
- Both Good and Bad (comment from US)
- The Convention
UN Child Summit breakthrough
In the concluding stages of the summit, the EU, in a major U-turn, acceded to removing the phrase "reproductive health services", ie abortion (as well as certain other phraseology inappropriate to texts on child welfare), from the document.
This is believed to be likely to have significant benign knock-on effects on other treaties.
From a pro-child perspective, it appears to be a welcome result.
A residue of doubt remains, however, as a BBC report on its website, states somewhat confusingly, that "sex education and access to sexual health services, including abortion", "are mentioned in the document", but "the final agreement dropped any reference to 'services'".
Incredibly, all this is a discussion about abortion rights for children!
See also report: US pulls out of ICC
Further info later.
11 May 2002, 12 May 2002
From Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute:
May 3, 2002
Volume 5, Number 19
UN Child Summit Negotiations Stymied Over Adolescent Abortion
The Bush administration's delegation to the United Nations is continuing its efforts to roll back radical policy initiatives undertaken during the 1990s by the Clinton administration, the European Union (EU), Canada and other like-minded states. In this week's final preparatory meetings for the Special Session of the General Assembly on Children, to be held May 8-10 in New York City, the United States delegation has fought to exclude language from the outcome document that recognizes homosexual marriage and the right of adolescents to abortion.
Much of the US's efforts have focused on the phrase "reproductive health services." In negotiations, the EU, Canada and the Latin American countries have sought to establish that children possess a "right to reproductive health services." Reproductive health services is a euphemism for abortion, a point conceded in June by the Canadian delegate, who stated that "Of course it includes, and I hate to say the word, but it includes abortion."
Since the June admission by the Canadian delegation that "reproductive health care services" means abortion, the US has insisted upon its removal from the final document. Ten months later the US still insists, despite enormous pressure from its EU allies. Key Bush constituencies remain adamant that the phrase must be removed. The negotiations are deadlocked on this point.
Peter Smith, the UN representative of International Right to Life, told the Friday Fax that "The US is doing a brilliant job" during this week's negotiations, and that "the delegation is following the administration's pro-life position wonderfully." Smith added that "The final document is to be called a 'A World Fit For Children'; the US believes that a world cannot be fit for children if it allows the world's most vulnerable children to be killed."
The US delegation is also fighting against continued efforts to redefine the family. During the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo, the phrase "various forms of the family" was introduced into UN lexicon. All through the 1990s, the Clinton administration and the EU sought to include this phrase whenever the family was mentioned. It has long been the contention of pro-family nongovernmental organizations at the UN that this is an attempt to introduce homosexual marriage into international instruments. During the current negotiations, the US is seeking to delete a reference to "various forms of the family."
Finally, the US is trying to introduce a profoundly different way to
address all reproductive issues, which includes the recognition of the
"importance of sound value systems" and the promotion of abstinence. Pro-family groups hope that the US will place many reservations in thefinal document, since so much of the UN language reflects the previous administration's understanding of family and parental rights. [Reservations attached to the end of a document allow a government to define or distance itself from specific language it disagrees with.] Negotiations on the final draft continue, with negotiators hoping to finish by next Wednesday, when up to 80 heads of state descend upon UN headquarters for the final Summit.
Copyright - C-FAM (Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute). Permission granted for unlimited use. Credit required.
Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute
866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 427
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Phone: (212) 754-5948 Fax: (212) 754-9291
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1. The European Parliament had passed a surprise "family-friendly" motion two weeks ago. Was this a bargaining chip to get abortion through?
2. No mention is made of Ireland's voice. Is Ireland rowing in behind the EU in support of homosexual marriage and abortion for children? If so, what is the (a) moral and (b) legal basis for this?
3. Report on Summit (8 -10 May) to follow later.
10 May 2002
ISPCC pre-election campaignThe IPCC will be running a nationwide campaign aimed at establishing the commitment of candidates to "child care and protection" prior to the next election. This was learned at the recent agm of the Society.
Concern was also expressed at the meeting that "investment" in "child protection and welfare services" might be reduced in the forthcoming budget. (Irish Times, 11 Oct 2001)
Having regard to what the Irish Government representatives were told by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, 12/13 January 1998: ("The innovative idea of the Convention was moving from protection and caring [of parents] to the assertion of children's rights"), parents will indeed want to know what plans candidates will have in mind for their children. In the meantime, take a look at the following:Fianna Fail/PDsEnd
The Labour Party (website not checked)
3 November 2001
guidance from the ISPCC
"What Rights Do I Have at What Age?"Introduction: (Extracts)
The folllowing are selected extracts from Citizen Child, "A handbook of children's rights and entitlements and adult responsibilities for parents and those who work with children", published by ISPCC, 20 Molesworth St, Dublin 2:
"Over one third of Irish citizens are children. The ISPCC believes in the equal rights of children and adults as citizens taking account of children's age and understanding. Making State services, the law, parents and public attitudes more child centred and focussed on children as equal citizens rather than as dependents or as parental or societal property depends on both children and parents becoming familiar with chidren's need, rights and entitlements. Thus they will develop the confidence and courage to insist on equal treatment for children.
"Our emphasis must increasingly shift from the civics class notion of preparing children for adult citizenship to empowereing children to explore and enjoy the benefits of their current citizenship."
"This handbook is published to coincide with the launch of the ISPCC Children's Rights Informaiton Bureaux, ..."
"While the informaiton in the handbook is designed as a manual for our volunteer "child supporters" who will run the various bureaux it will be a useful source of reference for any parent, teacher, youth worker or other child care professional."At Fourteen Years of Age:
- You can work part-time during the school holidays. There is a limit to the number of hours you can work and only certain types of work are allowed.
- You can collect in a public place for a charity.
At Fifteen Years of Age:
- You have th eright to leave school.
- You have the right to get a job and work no more than ....
- You can see a category 15 film or rent a 15 video.
At Sixteen Years of Age:
- You can buy cigarettes (you can smoke at any age but you cannot actually buy them until you are sixteen)
- You can get married with parents' or guardians' consent.
- You can be thrown out of home.
- You can consent to medical treatment.
- You can join a Trade Union and/or a Political Party.
At Seventeen Years of Age:
- You can give consent to, and engage, in sexual activity and acts (heterosexual or homosexual) including sexual intercourse.
- You can be sent to prison.
At Eighteen Years of Age:
End of selected extracts.
- You can leave home.
- You can legally buy alcohol (you can drink in private, ie, at home, at any age).
25 October 2001
NEART PRESS RELEASE:
Explosion over Abortion Language rocks Child Summit negotiations.
Report by Patrick Buckley:
An extraordinary exchange took place late on Tuesday evening during the child summit negotiations at the UN when a Canadian delegate, in response to a US query, defined the word "services" in the context of "reproductive health care" as including abortion.
Following a stunned silence, Monsignor Reinert of the Holy See expressed his shock at this admission. "I am shocked, I cannot believe that I heard what I have just heard. The Holy See cannot accept this language" - Reinert told the conference. Monsignor Reinert stated that if this definition is correct the Holy See would have to go through the entire document and every future document in which the term Śservices¹ is used in connection with reproductive health care and reject all such language.
A number of countries supported the Holy See and the Rio group of South American countries informed the conference that if there was a danger that it could mean abortion they were in agreement with the deletion of the word Śservices¹.
The EU which includes Ireland supported the use of the word 'services'.
The Canadian delegate Androf Vamos Goldman* in an ŚAlice in Wonderland¹ like attempt at damage limitation told the conference "I am sorry for causing all this firestorm by giving an interpretation to a wordŠ.. Canada is perfectly happy to see different interpretations given to a word by different delegations. Maybe this is only our definition. Our interpretation does not mean that everyone has to interpret it the same way. Everyone is free to interpret it as they want."
Pro-life observers and delegates have long believed that flexible language is deliberately placed in UN documents by some delegations, in order to allow for later re-interpretation of seemingly innocuous phrases to include radical social agendas . A basic principle of all negotiations is that there is complete agreement on the meaning of terminology otherwise the entire process is flawed. This exchange ended with a victory for the pro-life countries which insisted that the word "services" should be qualified so as to exclude abortion.
In a subsequent move there was an attempt by the pro-life countries to define "reproductive health care" as excluding abortion, though this had not been finally agreed by the end of the conference.
Following these exchanges the negotiation of the document became extremely difficult and progress slowed to a snails pace with several sessions extending until 1 AM.
An alternative report by submitted by the Child Rights Caucus a large group of NGO¹s which includes the "Child Rights Alliance-Ireland", International Planned Parenthood" and others was issued on June 13th and calls for access by adolescents (article 33 bullet point 2) to "Š.confidential, high quality sexual and reproductive information and health care and servicesŠ."
It also calls for the taking into account of the right of the child (in bullet point 3) to "information, privacy, confidentiality, respect and informed consent. These and other paragraphs were seen as an attempt for abortion to be made available to adolescents without
parental knowledge or consent, Adolescents in UN terminology are defined as being from age 10 to 18.
Some of the other issues that arose at the conference were very encouraging for the pro-family, pro-life delegates. It was noted for example that the EU submissions were more family friendly than UNICEF wished and specific reference was made to fathers. It is understood that much of the family friendly language in the EU submissions was the result of interventions by the Irish delegation.
The US delegation, which was very supportive of family and life issues, inserted language recommending programmes encouraging abstinence to the amazement and disgust of some of the more liberal delegations. The US delegate Terry Miller stated that "one of the greatest risks to healthy life styles is sexual activity which leads to
sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies and in the case of HIV Aids even death."
The Republic of Korea which required the insertion of measures to protect children from violent or harmful websites, computer programmes and video games that negatively influence
the psychological development of children drew support from many countries and the Holy See suggested that pornographic websites should be included in this amendment.
The meeting concluded without agreeing all sections of the document and a further intercessional will be needed to complete it prior to the Child Summit in September as there are still major outstanding issues to be decided.
Patrick Buckley, Chairman of NEART, attended the final preparatory meeting for the upcoming Child Summit "A World Fit for Children" at UN headquarters in New York on behalf of the NEART Coalition. The summit which will take place in September will be a special session of the General Assembly on Children .
In the lead up to the conference the number of pro-life and pro-family delegates was severely curtailed resulting in a major imbalance in representation.
*Incorrect name given on 18 June - apologies!End
21 June 2001
The American Experience:
For those who say, "It could never happen here"
"In March 1984 a remarkable real-life drama took place in seven American cities as hundreds of parents from all over the U.S. attended Hearings on the proposed 'Protection of Pupils' Rights Amendment'.
Thirteen hundred pages of testimony were recorded from parents, public school teachers and citizens, giving eyewitness account of ..."
Extract from "Child Abuse in the Classroom" Edited by Phyllis Schlafly (3rd Ed. 1985)
Link to Irish PATRE site.
(Parents and Teachers for Real Education)
13 February 2001
1990 Children's Convention both Good and Bad from Pro-family Perspective
A commentary from Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (US) (Emphasis added)
Political progressives make much of the fact that only two countries have not yet ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the United States and Somalia. The US Congress tends not to ratify these types of conventions believing US law more than adequately protects US citizens. US political leaders also fear loss of US sovereignty that comes with signing UN conventions.
Beginning with a preparatory committee meeting in January, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is hosting a ten-year review of the Children’s Convention.
Pro-family advocates believe the Convention is a decidedly mixed bag. William J. Saunders, a human rights lawyer working for the Washington DC-based Family Research Council, suggests the Convention has a “number of provisions that offer strong support for pro-life, pro-family advocates…” The Convention’s preamble, for instance, recognizes “the family…[is] the fundamental group of society and the natural environment for the growth and well-being of…children.” The preamble also says “the child, for the full development of his or her personality, should grow up in a family environment.” Perhaps most encouraging for pro-family advocates is the preambular line that asserts the child “needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth.”
The body of the Convention offers even more protection for children. Saunders suggests that Article Six, which recognizes “every child has the inherent right to life,” when read in conjunction with the preamble, protects a child from before birth. The Convention also protects the rights of parents to direct the lives of their children in a broad array of concerns. Article 14 insists “States Parties shall respect the rights and duties of the parents…to provide direction to the child in the exercise of his or her right [to freedom of thought, conscience and religion]…. Article 18 says, “Parents…have the primary responsibility for the upbringing and development of the child.”
Even with these positive aspects, Saunders believes the Convention has many problems. Article 13 guarantees the child’s “freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers…through any…media of child’s choice.” This is made without any provision for parental supervision. Saunders points out similar problems in Article 15, which guarantees nearly unhindered “freedom of association”,
and Article 16, which guarantees, “No child shall be subjected to arbitrary…interference with his… privacy…” Article 19 calls for the protection of the child from “all forms of physical or mental violence, injury, or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment of exploitation…while in the care of parents…” On its face this paragraph appears quite sensible, yet rulings by UN committees show a marked tendency to consider traditional religious belief and practice kinds of abuse.
Saunders sees the greatest threat coming in paragraph 24, which urges States Parties to “ensure that no child is deprived of his or her right to access to…health care services…” In UN parlance, this would include access to “reproductive health care” which includes abortion. These and other propositions will be up for debate when the new meetings begin.
December 29, 2000
Volume 4, Number 2
Copyright – C-FAM (Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute).
Permission granted for unlimited use. Credit required.
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Phone: (212) 754-5948 Fax: (212) 754-9291
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2 January 2001
The Convention on the Rights of the Child
(Emphasis added: comments in italics)
For full text, see http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/k2crc.htm
What follows are not idle aspirations. They are the law. The Human Rights Commission Act defined Human rights as "the rights, liberties or freedoms conferred on or guaranteed to persons by any agreement, treaty or convention to which the State is a party" (s.2(b)). Ireland is already a party to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The Human Rights Commission, under the Act, "shall have all such powers as are necessary for... the performance of its function under this Act" (s.4(4)). This includes bringing test cases to the courts.
What do these extracts mean? What do you think?
What view would an Irish or European Judge take?
2. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that the child is protected against all forms of discrimination or punishment on the basis of the status, activities, expressed opinions, or beliefs of the child's parents, legal guardians, or family members.What does this mean? Who will decide?
1. The child shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child's choice."Regardless of frontiers" would appear to be clear enough! section 2 of this article speaks of certain restrictions provided by law which are necessary for a number of reasons which include the protection of "public health or morals". What does this mean? Who will decide?
1. States Parties shall respect the right of the child to freedom of thought,conscience and religion.
2. States Parties shall respect the rights and duties of the parents and, when applicable, legal guardians, to provide direction to the child in the exercise of his or her right in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child.What does this mean? What are the implications for parental responsibility? What does "evolving capacities" mean?
1. States Parties recognize the rights of the child to freedom of association and to freedom of peaceful assembly.What does this mean? What are the implications for parental responsibility?
1. No child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his or her
honour and reputation.
2. The child has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.Could this be read as being supportive of family life or destructive of family life? Who will decide? How would a Judge decide?
States Parties recognize the important function performed by the mass media and shall ensure that the child has access to information and material from a diversity of national and international sources, especially those aimed at the promotion of his or her social, spiritual and moral well-being and physical and mental health. To this end, States Parties shall:
(a) Encourage the mass media to disseminate information and material of social and cultural benefit to the child and in accordance with the spirit of article 29;
(e) Encourage the development of appropriate guidelines for the protection of the child from information and material injurious to his or her well-being, bearing in mind
the provisions of articles 13 and 18.Why are the mass media given such a prominent position? Who will define "well-being"? What would a Judge decide?
1. States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.Who decides then on matters to do with the discipline of a child - the parents or the State? What a judge say?
1. A child temporarily or permanently deprived of his or her family environment, or in whose own best interests cannot be allowed to remain in that environment, shall be entitled to special protection and assistance provided by the State.Who is to define "best interests" - the parents or the State (or the child)?
1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and to facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health. States Parties shall strive to ensure that no child is deprived of his or her right of access to such health care services.
2. States Parties shall pursue full implementation of this right and, in particular, shall take appropriate measures:
(f) To develop preventive health care, guidance for parents and family planning education and services.Who gets the family planning education and services - the child or the parents or both? What education is envisaged? What are family planning services? Who decides?
1. States Parties agree that the education of the child shall be directed to:
(a) The development of the child's personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential;
(b) The development of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and for the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations;
(c) The development of respect for the child's parents, his or her own cultural identity, language and values, for the national values of the country in which the child is living, the country from which he or she may originate, and for civilizations different from his or her own;
(d) The preparation of the child for responsible life in a free society, in the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance, equality of sexes, and friendship among all peoples, ethnic, national and religious groups and persons of indigenous origin;
(e) The development of respect for the natural environment.
Bearing in mind that, as indicated in the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, "the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth",
End of selected extracts
Comments supplied by courtesy of Human Life International, 6, Belvedere Place, Dublin 1. Phone 855 2504 Fax: 8552767Links:
Declaration on the Rights of the Child
(20 November 1959), superceded by:
Convention on the Rights of the Child
(20 November 1989)
UN website http://www.unhchr.ch/
20 December 2000
The Cross-examination ofINTRODUCTION:
Ireland, Jan 1998On 12 and 13 January 1998, the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) considered the Report of the Irish Government under the Convention. Delegates of the Irish Government attended to answer questions.EXTRACTS from SUMMARY RECORD
The "Concluding observations" of the Committee summarise the proceedings, while the "Summary Record" (minutes) gives a more detailed account of the exchanges, and a better reflection of the pressures exerted.
The links below are to the UN site, and due to their volume, the files are probably best downloaded. The three meetings over the two days include the following topics:
436th meeting: Morning 12 January:
The Constitution and the Convention
437th meeting: Afternoon 12 January:
438th meeting: Morning 13 January:
"Stay safe" programme
Information on contraceptives
The rights-based approach of the Convention
Ombudsman for children
1. Interestingly, the reports for the 436th and 438th meetings were available two days later. But the report for the 437th meeting was apparently routed through the French translation section, and did not appear until three weeks later.
2. It is believed that, some 3 months before the cross-examination of the Irish government representatives, the UN offices at Geneva were visited by at least one Irish lobby group. The High Commissioner for Human Rights was unwilling to supply any details of this visit.
of the 436th Meeting:
"35. Mrs KARP noted that, in 1997, the Minister who had introduced the Children's Bill said he had been advised by the Attorney-General that potential constitutional difficulties existed in relation to the provision referring explicitly to the rights of the child, which had therefore been reworded. That raised a crucial issue.
The innovative idea of the Convention was that of moving from protection and caring to assertion of children's rights. That innovative approach had implicaitons not only in the abstract or ideological terms but also for the practical implementation of the Convention. She wondered wether the new approach had been internalized by the bodies in Ireland that were responsible...
63. [Ms O'DONNELL (Ireland) said that] The Government allocated one million pounds per annum of funding to the National Committee for Development Education, which provided funding to other NGO's for the preparation of school texts to raise teacher and pupil awareness of human rights throughout the school system.
80. Mrs SARDENBERG said she welcomed the candid recognition by the delegation of the lack of a national strategy for implementation of the Convention. ... She also noted that the focus in Ireland was very much on child protection, perhaps at the expense of children's rights as individuals.
84. [Ms O'DONNELL (Ireland) said that]
The 1937 Constitution contained a section underpinning the inalienable and imprescriptible rights of the family: words that had not been helpful in championing the individual rights of hte child when interpreted by the courts over the years. Consequently, the Constitutional Review Group had suggested the deletion of various provisions of the Constitution relating to the family and had recommended ...
End of extracts from Record of Meeting.
Session 436 12 Jan 98
Session 437 12 Jan 98
Session 438 13 Jan 98
Concluding comments of Committee)
The Convention on the Rights of the Child
and the Right to Life
Both the Convention and the (earlier) Declaration on the Rights of the Child are unequivocal on this issue. The following is an extract from the preamble to the Convention:
"Bearing in mind that, as indicated in the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, 'the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth',"
End of extract.
Comment: A good deal of the discussion in the course of the examination of Ireland's report in January 1998, above, is clearly at odds with the Convention. The implication conveyed in the discussions that abortion might be acceptable in certain circumstances is without authority.
End of comment.
A MOTHER'S STORYMost coincidences are fairly unremarkable. But the one that occurred to me recently was most strange indeed.
For I had hardly begun to write this, to mark the eight anniversary of the Law Lords ruling, when I received a phone call from a very distressed mother. She had just discovered that the local family planning clinic had put her 15 year-old daughter on the Pill, and she was all for going round to the doctor and demanding an explanation.
"Was this a good idea?" she asked. My heart began to sink as she spoke.
"The thing is," she continued, "doctors don't have the right, do they, to give a young girl drugs like that, without me knowing? I mean, how am I supposed to be responsible for my daughter if I don't know what's going on?"
Her question hit me like a blast from the past.
Poor mother. Poor tens of thousands of mothers, so dishonourably deceived by a once honourable profession.
Twenty years ago, every doctor in the land would have leapt to the defence of parental rights and duties: but not any more.
The government has seen to that.
End of extract from Catholic Herald and Standard, c.1995.Comment:
The above was written by Victoria Gillick (UK) on the eight anniversary of the Law Lords rejection (c.1987) of her claim that doctors did not have the right to give her teenage daughter contraceptive pills.
Could the same happen here?
In July 1998, the Midland Health Board published a report which called for a clarification of hte law on providing contraceptive services to under-age girls without parental knowledge.
The ISPCC said it had no objections to doctors not reporting sexually active teenage girls seeking the Pill if it involved a peer. "[Sexual activity] is acceptable if the child is sexually active with a peer.." (Irish Independent 27 July 1998)
End of comment