Obama Seeks to Join Global Rights of Child Pact

UNITED NATIONS (AP) - The Obama administration is reviving
efforts to have the United States sign onto a global children's
rights treaty ratified by every U.N. member except the U.S. and
Somalia, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice,
said Monday.

Administration officials are actively discussing "when and how
it might be possible to join," Rice, a Cabinet-level official,
said while visiting a school in Harlem and fielding a teenager's
specific question about the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the
Child.

She did not provide a specific timetable for the decision and
has said previously only that the administration would conduct a
legal review of the treaty.

But during her a brief question-and-answer session with 120
junior high school students at Harlem Children's Zone, a nonprofit
educational facility, Rice acknowledged that the effort was long
overdue given that "the only two countries" that are not part of
the treaty are the United States and the lawless Horn of Africa
nation.

"It's a long story," she said of the nearly 20-year-old treaty
that has become a point of contention in the United States, not to
mention Somalia.

The treaty says children have basic rights to education, health
care and protection from abuse. Its supporters have used it to
improve child protection laws for schools and courts in places like
Lebanon, South Korea, South Africa and Sri Lanka.

Democrats from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to
California Sen. Barbara Boxer, chair of a Senate subcommittee on
human rights, have advocated pushing for Senate ratification of the
treaty, which requires two-thirds approval in the 100-seat chamber.

But opponents in the U.S. have long argued that it could open
the door to outside interference from government and U.N. officials
in what they say are parents' rights to raise a child as they see
fit. Republicans in Congress also have put forward a measure that
has gained limited support but is aimed at blocking such a treaty.

Since the treaty took effect in 1990, it has been ratified by
193 nations. The Clinton administration signed it in 1995 but never
submitted the treaty for Senate approval, bowing to opposition from
some senators.


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