A Briefing Paper from Christian Voice: June 1995
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On 27th January 1995 the UN Committee of the Convention on the Rights of the Child issued its first report on the compliance of the United Kingdom. Amongst its recommendations were:
- The God-given right of parents to discipline their children be legislated away both in the home and in private schools.
- Parents and the public be "educated" so as to "change the climate of opinion" to achieve this.
- More school sex education and for parents to be denied their right to take their children out,
- Schools to educate children as to the merits of the UN Convention itself,
- An increase in single-parent benefit levels,
- Raising the age of criminal responsibility,
- "Family education which would teach "New man" type equality of roles in child-rearing,
- In Northern Ireland, "integrated education schooling," and race relations legislation, as if such interference by the UN in the affairs of the United Kingdom is warranted at all.
A Press Release from Christian Voice in response to the UN Committee Report quoted Stephen Green, M.A., National Director of Christian Voice, as saying:
"The Committee is engaging in social engineering with its recommendation that parents and the public be "educated" so as to "change the climate of opinion" so that the God-given right of parents to discipline their children and delegate that right to schools is legislated away.
"The Committee even wants schools to educate children as to the merits of the UN Convention itself. When it highlights real problems, such as divorce and teenage pregnancies, the measures it proposes, like increasing single-parent benefit levels, would only make matters worse."
This paper examines the implications of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child as interpreted by the UN Committee. It considers the scriptural position. It concludes with excerpts from the Convention and the Committee report.
The UN Convention and Committee
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child was ratified by the UK in December 1991, with minor reservations, and has the force of an international treaty. It takes precedence over UK law, and under its Article 4 we are obliged to pass laws to implement it. If enforced, it will pass the sovereignty of the United Kingdom, in every area touched by the Convention, to a committee elected by the UN of ten child rights activists.
At the moment, according to a letter from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, "While the Convention itself is legally binding, the recommendations of the Committee are not. There are some areas where we have interpreted the Convention differently to the Committee."
The members of the present committee come from Egypt, Burkina Faso, Philippines, Peru, Sweden, (where smacking is outlawed) Russia, Barbados, Zimbabwe, Israel and Brazil. 154 States are parties to the convention. Significantly, the United States has refused to sign, although the Clinton administration is pressing for ratification at the time of writing. Cuba, China, Rwanda, Peru and Sudan are amongst the signatories, but the convention has made not a scrap of difference to human rights in any of them. We suggest that the Convention is being used instead to subvert the law-abiding countries of the West and their Christian heritage.
The UK and the Children Act 1989
The Government's present position is that especially with the passing of the Children Act 1989, the UK complies with the Convention.
Indeed, the Children Act, which applies to the whole United Kingdom and can by order be extended to the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, has already gone too far towards regarding children as autonomous. A grey area has been created where parents and teachers are unsure even about whether they may compel a child to go to school.
The Children Act 1989 also overturned centuries of Christian tradition in British Law by declaring baldly:
"The rule of law that a father is the natural guardian of his legitimate child is abolished." (Children Act 1989 S.2(4))
The UK's first Report to the UN Committee
The UK ministry monitoring compliance is the Department of Health. The UK published its first Report to the UN Committee in February 1994. The 131-page Report is illustrated by a cartoon of what appears to be a single-parent family on the front cover.
According to the Report, "The UK, while not complacent, can claim with some confidence to have a good record in general on its treatment of children."
After considering the UK Report in secret and arcane procedures to which we refer below, the Committee of child rights activists disagrees, and there is no appeal against their decision. The UN Committee Report will now be circulated worldwide and child rights lobbyists will attempt to disseminate it in the UK, as indeed the Report itself demands.
We questioned above whether the UN Convention was having any effect on the worldwide elimination of child labour and abuse. It cannot be disputed that the position of the United Kingdom in protesting about such abuses where they occur is now prejudiced. The offending country can simply say, "Well, you're not perfect yourselves, look at how badly the UN Committee says you comply in the United Kingdom!"
The currency of the UN Convention is thereby devalued to the point of being worthless.
The Government's Response
In response to letters of concern from Christian Voice members, Mr John Bowis MP, the Minister with responsibility for children at the Department of Health, has stated the following:
"We welcomed the opportunity to put our record before the UN Committee. It is disappointing that they did not give it the attention or acknowledgement it deserved.
"There is no obligation on the UK to respond to the UN Committee's observations, or implement any of its recommendations, and we have no intention of doing so. We do not have to report again until 1999.
"While we will continue to keep the Convention's principles in mind when considering any measures which will affect children, we will ensure that nothing is done to undermine the valued role of parents."
Similar comments were made by Mr David Maclean, MP, Minister of State at the Home Office, and by the Rt Hon Douglas Hogg, MP, Minister of State at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and responsible for human rights.
Internal and external pressure on UK
According to UNICEF, who like Save the Children are dismayed by the Government's approach, only internal public opinion or international opprobrium would cause a state party to change its policies. This applies whether the state party be the UK or France, or Rwanda, Peru or China. There is no international court to enforce compliance with any UN Treaty.
Christians must be concerned at the futility and arrogance of the United Nations in setting itself up against God and His Law, and about the One-World or New World Order implications behind it. We are suspicious that plans for a World Court may already be in preparation, and that the UK would then be forced to comply with the Committee's understanding of the Convention by external pressure. However, the UK is under internal pressure already.
Involvement of UK child rights movement
The Government's robust approach has put the UK child rights lobby's nose out of joint. A "Children's Rights Development Unit" operates out of 235 Shaftesbury Avenue, London WC2 and acts as an umbrella group for some 180 Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO's) in the child rights field. It is part public-funded and is chaired by Peter Newell who runs the anti-smacking organisation "End Physical Punishment of Children" (EPOCH).
The C.R.D.U. submitted a 350-page alternative report to the UN Committee entitled "UK Agenda for Children". The report would be widely seen as extremist. In its procedures, the UN Committee is allowed to meet NGO's in secret whilst preparing its Report on state compliance, and parts of the UN Committee Report are plainly drawn straight from "UK Agenda for Children."
The UN Committee colluded in other words behind closed doors with UK child rights activists in investigating the UK's compliance. During the debate "Responsibility to Children" on 26th April 1995, Mr David Maclean MP said in the House of Commons:
"The Committee which carried out that investigation behaved like a kangaroo court, and treated British Government officials disgracefully. Its members asked us 48 questions in advance but did not have the decency to give our people the chance to reply to them. They then suddenly produced their conclusions without even listening to the evidence."
The C.R.D.U. is now gearing up to setting up a Children's Rights Office and an Officer. It will lobby the Government to appoint a UK "Children's Rights Commissioner" who would consult with NGO's in children's rights and monitor compliance with the Convention. That is, curiously, what the UN Committee recommended on page 5 of its Report.
Instability of the UK's political position
Ministerial responses show that although the UN Convention and its Committee's Report may be regarded at the moment as just hot air, it is of clear negative value to the UK. Even worse, a change of government could give an open door to lobbying by the "Children's Rights Development Unit." Labour is committed to a Minister for children, and is sympathetic to "child rights," as are the Liberal Democrats.
Under a Labour government, the recommendations of the UN Committee and the wording of parts of the Convention itself could be used as justification for measures which would deprive parents of God-given rights and duties, and allow the state grossly to increase its interference in the family.
Ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child by the United Kingdom has turned out to be a mistake in view of the wild interpretation of the Convention by the UN Committee and the mischievous use being made of it by UK child rights activists.
This paper concludes therefore that the most sensible course of action is for the United Kingdom to denounce the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child as we are allowed to under its Article 52 and withdraw from it immediately.
To this end we ask for prayer from the church
(a) for the Queen's ministers to stand firm against the UN Committee,
(b) for lobbying by the child rights lobby to be countered and (c) for the political will to withdraw from the Convention and join the United States which has refused to sign it - so far.
THE CHRISTIAN POSITION FROM SCRIPTURE
The nation state, not a supra-national assembly, is God's institution for the administration of civil justice:
(God) hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; (Acts 17:26)
Genesis records an early attempt to form a united nations. The nations decided to "make a name for themselves."
And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. (Gen. 11:4-6)
The LORD thwarted the tower of Babel, and this episode is recorded as an example for us. (1 Cor 10:6; 2 Pet 2:6)
It may be objected that Jesus said, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." (Matt. 22:39)
Firstly, this is given to the individual, not to nations. It is a quotation of Lev 19:18. Firstly, chapters either side of Leviticus 19 state that faithful Israel will drive out the godless nations before them. Secondly, it is preceded by these two verses:
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. (Matt. 22:37-38)
The Charter of the United Nations does not acknowledge the supremacy of Almighty God at all. Its utopianism and naive optimism in the powers of man to bring about a New World Order has been comprehensively exposed, most recently, at the time of writing, in Bosnia. Its failure, and the failure of the League of Nations before it to prevent the Second World War, is prophesied by the Psalmist:
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the LORD shall have them in derision. (Ps. 2:2-4)
It is tempting to look to Isaiah chapter 2 for justification of attempts to impose world peace:
And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (Isa. 2:4b)
But that very verse begins with God's sovereignty:
And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: (Isa. 2:4a)
The whole verse is part of an end-time prophecy concerning Judah and Jerusalem. It is a belief of Liberation Theology that a new Jerusalem can be built by men on earth. Scripture opposes that idea, but warns that it must come before the day of the Lord:
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. (2 Thes. 2:3-4)
John refers to this "man of sin" as "antichrist" (2 John 1:7) and the Christian duty is to pray and prophecy against such a one and against the ideology involved:
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; (2 Cor. 10:5)
The end of the New World Order, together with religious support for it, is graphically depicted:
And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. (Rev. 19:19-20)
The Psalms of praise provide a link between the power of God among the nations and His divine institution of the family:
He ruleth by his power for ever; his eyes behold the nations: let not the rebellious exalt themselves. (Ps. 66:7)
God setteth the solitary in families: (Ps. 68:6a)
The importance of strong families in the bringing up of children is spoken of by the prophet Malachi; God made the man and his wife one flesh "That he might seek a godly seed." (Mal. 2:15)
Children are given in trust to parents by God, as a blessing and as a responsibility:
Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. (Ps. 127:3)
The importance for the social stability of a nation of respect for parents is elevated by God to the level of a commandment:
Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. (Ex. 20:12)
A good upbringing is essential if a child is to grow into maturity, knowing the difference between right and wrong:
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Pro. 22:6)
Discipline is vital, and witholding it is a form of moral cowardice which is condemned in scripture in the strongest terms:
He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes. (Pro. 13:24)
It turns out that this is a matter of spiritual life and death:
Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell. (Pro. 23:13,14)
Because of our sinful condition, children are not able to discern righteousness for themselves. Those who share the view of Rousseau, that in the absence of civilised, Christian constraints children will grow into a state of sinless, peace-loving tranquillity, are in rebellion against reality and the word of God. Correction given in love is essential preparation for adult life:
Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him. (Pro. 22:15)
The Lord Jesus Himself was under the authority of His parents:
And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. (Luke 2:51-52)
Good government, which recognises its God-given limits, and support for parental discipline within the family go together:
When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn. (Pro. 29:2)
The king that faithfully judgeth the poor, his throne shall be established for ever. The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame. When the wicked are multiplied, transgression increaseth: but the righteous shall see their fall. Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul. Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. (Pro. 29:14-18)
On the contrary, the rule of children is a source of oppression:
And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them. And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbour: the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable. (Isa. 3:4-5)
As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths. (Isa. 3:12)
Righteous Government ultimately derives from God in Christ. His alone is the sovereignty, and from Him all authority derives. Rebellious nations which usurp the rule of Christ will be destroyed:
Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. (Ps. 2:5-9)
When the Queen promised at her coronation to "Maintain the Laws of God and the True Profession of the Gospel" she ensured that the United Kingdom would remain constitutionally on the right side, in a perceptive echo of the book of Revelation:
And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Rev. 12:17)
It is vital then for our nation to trust in God and His precepts rather than in the United Nations and its conventions. (Is 30:1-3; 31:1-3) The sovereignty of Christ is a constitutional reality in the United Kingdom which we continue to ignore at our peril:
For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. (John 5:22-23)
UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD
(NB: Article headings in brackets are NOT part of the Convention and are included for clarification only.)
ARTICLE 1 (Definition of 'child')
For the purposes of the present Convention, a child means every human being below the age of eighteen years, unless under the law applicable to the child majority is attained earlier.
ARTICLE 2 (Discrimination)
1. States Parties shall respect and ensure the rights set forth in the present Convention to each child within their jurisdiction without discrimination of any kind, irrespective of the child's or his or her parent's race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status.
2. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that the child is protected against all forms of discrimination or punishment on the bias of the status, activities, expressed opinions, or beliefs of the child's parents, legal guardians, or family members.
ARTICLE 3 (Best interests of the Child)
1. In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.
2, States Parties undertake to ensure the child such protection and care as is necessary for his or her well-being, taking into account the rights and duties of his or her parents, legal guardians, or other individuals legally responsible for him or her, and, to this end. shall take all appropriate legislative and administrative measures.
3. ARTICLE 4 (Obligation to Legislate)
States Parties shall undertake all appropriate legislative, administrative, and other measures for the implementation of the rights recognized in the present Convention. With regard to economic, social and cultural rights, States Parties shall undertake such measures to the maximum extent of their available resources and, where needed, within the framework of international co-operation.
ARTICLE 5 (Parents)
States Parties shall respect the responsibilities, rights and duties of parents ...
ARTICLE 6 (Right to Life)
1. States Parties recognize that every child has the inherent right to life.
2. States Parties shall ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child.
(NB The UK interprets the Convention as applicable only following a live birth.)
ARTICLE 7 (Birth rights)
1. The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and, as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents.
ARTICLE 8 (Identity)
1. States Parties undertake to respect the right of the child to preserve his or her identity, including nationality, name and family relations as recognized by law without unlawful interference.
2. Where a child is illegally deprived of some or all of the elements of his or her identity, States Parties shall provide appropriate assistance and protection, with a view to speedily re-establishing his or her identity.
ARTICLE 9 (Separation from Parents)
1. States Parties shall ensure that a child shall not be separated from his or her parents against their will, except when competent authorities subject to judicial review determine, in accordance with applicable law and procedures, that such separation is necessary for the best interests of the child.
3. States Parties shall respect the right of the child who is separated from one or both parents to maintain personal relations and direct contact with both parents on a regular basis, except if it is contrary to the child's best interests.
ARTICLR 10 (Emigration and Immigration)
1. Applications by a child or his or her parents to enter or leave a State Party for the purpose of family reunification shall be dealt with by States Parties in a positive, humane and expeditious manner.
ARTICLE 11 (Illicit transfer of Children)
1. States Parties shall take measures to combat the illicit transfer and non-return of children abroad.
ARTICLE 12 (Child to Express Views)
1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.
2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child.
ARTICLE 13 (Child's freedom of expression)
1. The child shall have the right to freedom of expression;
ARTICLE 14 (Child's religious freedom)
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, where 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.
3. Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals, or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.
ARTICLE 15 (Child's right of assembly)
1. States Parties recognize the rights of the child to freedom of association and to freedom of peaceful assembly.
ARTICLE 16 (Privacy)
1. No child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, home or correspondence, ...
ARTICLE 17 (Dissemination of information)
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;
b) ... dissemination of such information and material from a diversity of cultural, national and international sources;
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.
ARTICLE 18 (Assistance to, and interference with, parents)
1. States Parties shall use their best efforts to ensure recognition of the principal that both parents have common responsibilities for the upbringing and development of the child. ... The best interests of the child will be their basic concern.
2. States Parties shall render appropriate assistance to parents and legal guardians in the performance of their child-rearing responsibilities....
3. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that children of working parents have the right to benefit from child-care services and facilities for which they are eligible.
ARTICLE 19 (Ill treatment of children)
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.
2. Such protective measures should establish social programmes to provide necessary support for the child and for those who have the care of the child.
ARTICLE 20 (Removal of child from family)
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.
ARTICLE 21 (Adoption)
States Parties that recognize and/or permit the system of adoption shall ensure that the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration ...
ARTICLE 22 (Refugees)
1. States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure that a child who is seeking refugee status... shall... receive appropriate protection and humanitarian assistance....
ARTICLE 23 (Disabled children)
1. States Parties recognize that a mentally or physically disabled child should enjoy a full and decent life, in conditions which ensure dignity, promote self-reliance and facilitate the child's active participation in the community.
ARTICLE 24 (Health and birth control)
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:
(a) To diminish infant and child mortality;
(b) To ensure the provision of necessary medical assistance and health care to all children...
(c) To combat disease and malnutrition, ...
(d) To ensure appropriate pre-natal and post-natal heath care for mothers;...in the use of basic knowledge of child health and nutrition, the advantages of breast-feeding, hygiene and environmental sanitation and the prevention of accidents;
(f) To develop preventative health care, guidance for parents and family planning education and services.
3. States Parties shall take all effective and appropriate measures with a view to abolishing traditional practices prejudicial to the health of children.
ARTICLE 25 (Review)
States Parties recognize the right of a child who has been placed by the competent authorities for the purposes of care, protection or treatment of his or her physical or mental health, to a periodic review ...
ARTICLE 26 (Social Security)
1. States Parties shall recognize for every child the right to benefit from social security, ...
ARTICLE 27 (Standard of living)
1. States Parties recognize the right of every child to a standard of living adequate for the child's physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development.
ARTICLE 28 (Right to education)
1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to education, and with a view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of equal opportunity, they shall, in particular:
a) Make primary education compulsory and available free to all;
b) Encourage the development of different forms of secondary education, ...
c) Make higher education accessible...
d) Make educational and vocational information available and accessible...;
e) Take measures to encourage regular attendance at schools and the reduction of drop-outs.
2. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that school discipline is administered in a manner consistent with the child's human dignity and in conformity with the present Convention.
ARTICLE 29 (Purpose of Education)
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 peoples, ethnic, national and religious groups and persons of indigenous origin.
e) The development of respect for the natural environment.
2. No part of the present article or article 28 shall be construed so as to interfere with the liberty of individuals and bodies to establish and direct educational institutions, subject always to the observance of the principles set forth in paragraph 1 of the present article...
ARTICLE 30 (Cultural autonomy)
In those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities or persons of indigenous origin exist, a child belonging to such a minority or who is indigenous shall not be denied the right, in community with other members of his or her group, to enjoy his or her own culture, to profess and practice his or her own religion, or to use his or her own language.
ARTICLE 31 (Leisure and participation in cultural life)
1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.
ARTICLE 32 (Economic exploitation)
1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation and from work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child's education, or to be harmful to the child's health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.
ARTICLE 33 (Drugs)
States Parties shall take all appropriate measures, including legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect children from the illicit use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances as defined in the relevant international treaties, and to prevent the use of children in the illicit production and trafficking of such substances.
ARTICLE 34 (Sexual Abuse and "exploitative use")
States Parties undertake to protect the child from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. States Parties shall... prevent:
a) The inducement or coercion of a child to engage in any unlawful sexual activity;
b) The exploitative use of children in prostitution or other unlawful sexual practices;
c) The exploitative use of children in pornographic performances and materials.
ARTICLE 35 (Abduction)
States Parties shall... prevent the abduction of, the sale of or traffic in children for any purpose or in any form.
ARTICLE 36 (Other Exploitation)
States Parties shall protect the child against all other forms of exploitation prejudicial to any aspects of the child's welfare.
ARTICLE 37 (Punishment)
States Parties shall ensure that:
a) No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offences committed by persons below eighteen years of age;
b) No child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily. The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time.
c) Every child deprived of liberty shall be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, ...
ARTICLE 38 (War)
3. States Parties shall refrain from recruiting any person who has not attained the age of fifteen years into their armed forces.
ARTICLE 39 (Recovery and Reintegration)
States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to promote physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration of a child victim of: any form or neglect, exploitation, or abuse; torture or any other form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; or armed conflicts. Such recovery and reintegration shall take place in an environment which fosters the health, self-respect and dignity of the child.
ARTICLE 40 (Penal Treatment)
1. States Parties recognize the right of every child alleged as, accused of, or recognized as having infringed the penal law to be treated in a manner consistent with the promotion of the child's sense of dignity and worth, which reinforces the child's respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of others... 3a) The establishment of a minimum age below which children shall be presumed not to have the capacity to infringe the penal law.
4. A variety of dispositions, such as care, guidance and supervision orders; counselling; probation; foster care; education and vocational training programmes and other alternatives to institutional care shall be available...
ARTICLE 41 (Provisions more Conducive)
Nothing in the present Convention shall affect any provisions which are more conducive to the realization of the rights of the child and which may be contained in:
a) The law of a State Party; or
b) International law in force for that State.
ARTICLE 42 (Publicity)
States Parties undertake to make the principles and provision of the Convention widely known, by appropriate and active means, to adults and children alike.
ARTICLE 43 (The Committee)
1. For the purpose of examining the progress made by States Parties in achieving the realization of the obligations undertaken in the present Convention, there shall be established a Committee on the Rights of the Child, ...
2. The Committee shall consist of ten experts of high moral standing and recognized competence in the field covered by this Convention. The members of the Committee shall be elected by States Parties from among their nationals ...
3. The members of the Committee shall be elected by secret ballot from a list of persons nominated by States Parties. Each State Party may nominate one person from among its own nationals.
8. The Committee shall establish its own rules of procedure.
12. ... the members of the Committee... shall receive emoluments from United Nations resources...
ARTICLE 44 (Reports)
1. States Parties undertake to submit to the Committee, ...
reports on the measures they have adopted which give effect to the rights recognized herein and on the progress made on the enjoyment of those rights.
a) Within two years of the entry into force of the Convention for the State Party...
b) Thereafter every five years.
4. The Committee may request from State Parties further information...
5. The Committee shall submit... through the Economic and Social Council... reports on its activities.
6. States Parties shall make their reports widely available to the public in their own countries.
ARTICLE 45 (Co-operation of Agencies)
a) The Committee may invite the specialized agencies, the United Nations Children's Fund, ... the Convention ... activities;
d) The Committee may make suggestions and general recommendations based on information received pursuant to articles 44 and 45 of the present Convention. Such suggestions and general recommendations shall be transmitted to any State Party concerned and reported to the General Assembly, together with comments, if any from States Parties.
ARTICLE 51 (Reservations)
1. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall receive and circulate to all States the text of reservations made by State at the time of ratification or accession.
ARTICLE 52 (Denunciation)
A State Party may denounce the present Convention by written notification to the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Denunciation becomes effective one year after the date of receipt of the notification by the Secretary-General.
NB: Copies of the Convention are available free, on request, from the United Nations Information Centre, 20 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LB, Tel: 020 7630 1981
UN COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD
CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES
UNDER ARTICLE 44 OF THE CONVENTION
Concluding observations of the committee on the Rights of the Child: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
1. The Committee considered the initial report of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (CRE/C/11/SR.204-206}, held on 24 and 25 January 1995, and adopted the following concluding observations:
The Committee takes note of the Government's commitment to extending the provision of pre-school education. The Committee is equally appreciative of the recent initiative taken by the State party requiring local authorities in conjunction with health authorities and non- governmental organizations to draw up Children's Service Plans. P 2
C. Principal subjects of concern
The Committee is concerned about the reservations made to the Convention by the State party. In particular, the Committee is concerned that the reservation relating to the application of the Nationality and Immigration Act does not appear to be compatible with the principles and provisions of the Convention, including those of its articles 2, 3, 9 and 10. P.2
The Committee ... is concerned about ... the establishment of an independent mechanism for the purposes of monitoring the developments in relation to the rights of the child. P.2
Additionally, with respect to article 4 of the Convention, the Committee is concerned about the adequacy of measures taken to ensure the implementation of economic, social and cultural rights to the maximum extent of available resources.
Articles 2, 3, 6 and 12. ... the best interests of the child appears not to be reflected in legislation in such areas as health, education and social security which have a bearing on the respect of the child.
With regard to the implementation of article 2 of the Convention relating to non-discrimination. The Committee expresses its concern as to the possible adverse effects on children of the restrictions applied to unmarried fathers in conveying citizenship to their children, in contradiction with the provisions of articles 7 and 8 of the Convention. ... P.3
Article 6 ... concern at the health status of children of different socio-economic groups and those belonging to ethnic minorities. P.3
In relation to the possibility for parents in England and Wales to withdraw their children from parts of the sex education programmes in schools, the Committee is concerned that in this and other decisions, including exclusion from school, the right of the child to express his/or her opinion is not solicited. Thereby the opinion of the child may not be given due weight and taken into account as required under article 12 of the Convention. P.3
The Committee notes with concern the high number of children living in poverty. The rate of divorce and the number of single parent families and teenage pregnancies in the State party are noted with concern. These phenomena raise a number of issues, including as regards the adequacy of benefit allowances and the availability and effectiveness of family education. P.3
The Committee is disturbed about the reports it has received on the physical and sexual abuse of children. In this connection, the Committee is deeply worried about the information brought to its attention regarding judicial interpretations of the present law permitting the reasonable chastisement in cases of physical abuse of children within the family context. Thus, the Committee is concerned that legislative and other measures relating to the physical integrity of children do not appear compatible with the provisions and principles of the Convention, including those of its articles 3, 19 and 37. The Committee is equally concerned that privately funded and managed schools are still permitted to administer corporal punishment to children in attendance there. P.4
Provisions of the Convention which stipulate that detention is to be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest period of time. P.4
The Committee is concerned about the compatibility of ... secure training orders on young children with ... articles 3, 37, 39 and 40. P.4
The Committee is aware that the phenomena of children begging and sleeping on the streets has become more visible. The Committee is concerned that the changed regulations regarding benefit entitlement to young people may have contributed to the increase in the number of young homeless people. P.4
D Suggestions and recommendations
The Committee would like to suggest that the State party consider establishing a national mechanism for the purpose of co-ordinating the implementation and monitoring of the Convention. It is further suggested that ways and means be established to facilitate regular and closer co-operation between the Government and the non-governmental community, particularly with those non-governmental organizations closely involved in monitoring the respect for the rights of the child in the State party. .... P.5
Article 4 ... article 3, ... best interests of the child, ... the Committee notes the importance of additional efforts to overcome the problems of growing social and economic inequality and increased poverty. P.5
The Committee recommends that in line with the provisions of article 42 of the Convention, the State party should undertake measures to mask the provisions and principles of the Convention widely know to adults and children alike. It is also suggested that teaching about children's rights should be incorporated into the training curricula of professionals working with or for children, such as the police, judges, social workers, health workers and personnel in care and detention institutions. P.5
Greater priority be given to incorporating ... article 3, relating to the best interests of the child and articles 12 concerning the child's right to make their views known ... It is suggested that the State party consider the possibility of establishing further mechanisms to facilitate the participation of children in decisions affecting them, including within the family and the local community. P.5
The Committee recommends that race relations legislation be introduced in Northern Ireland as a matter of urgency ... P.6
The Committee would also like to suggest that a review be undertaken of the Nationality and Immigration laws and procedures to ensure their conformity with principles and provisions of the Convention. P.6
The Committee recommends that further measures be undertaken to educate parents about their responsibilities towards their children, including through the provision of family education which should place emphasis on an understanding of equal parental responsibilities. While the Committee recognised that the Government views the problem of teenage pregnancies as a serious one, the Committee suggests that additional efforts, in the way of prevention oriented programmes, which could take the form of educational campaigns, are required to reduce the number of teenage pregnancies. P.6
The Committee is also of the opinion that additional efforts are required to overcome the problem of violence in society. The Committee recommends that physical punishment of children in families be prohibited in light of the provisions laid down in articles 3 and 19 of the Convention. The Committee recommends that the provisions of articles 19, 28, 29 and 37 taken together with the principle of the best interests of the child require that public educational campaigns be launched to emphasise the child's right to physical integrity. Such measures would assist in creating a climate of opinion so as to change societal attitudes to the non-acceptance of the use of physical punishment in the family and to the acceptance of the legal prohibition of the physical punishment of children. P.6
With regard to matters relating to education, the Committee suggests that children's right to appeal against school exclusions be ensured. It is also suggested that children are provided with the opportunity to express their views on matters of concern to them in the running of the schools. Further, the Committee recommends that the training curricula of teachers should incorporate education about the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It is recommended that teaching methods should be inspired by and reflect the spirit and philosophy of the Convention, in the light of the general principles of the Convention and the provisions of its article 29. The Committee would also like to suggest that the State party consider the possibility of introducing education about the Convention on the Rights of the Child into school curricula. Legislative measures are recommended to prohibit the use of corporal punishment also in privately funded and managed schools. P.6 & 7
The Committee also suggests that the State party provide further support to the teaching of the Irish language in schools in Northern Ireland and to integrated education schooling. P.7
More specifically, the Committee recommends that serious consideration be given to raising the age of criminal responsibility throughout the areas of the United Kingdom. ...
Article 39 ...P7
The Committee also recommends that additional information on the implementation of the Convention in the dependent territory of Hong Kong be submitted to the Committee by 1996. P.8
The Committee encourages the State party to disseminate widely the State party report, ... and the concluding observations adopted by the Committee ... The Committee would like to suggest that these documents be brought to the attention of Parliament ... P.8
NB: Copies of the full report are available in the UK free, on request from Save the Children, 17 Grove Lane, London SE5 8RD, Tel: 020 7703 5400