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Which Countries Have Not Ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of a Child?

The United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of a Child is an international treaty that is designed to protect the rights of all children age 18 or younger, and it is one of the world's most widely ratified human rights treaties. There are only two UN member states that have not ratified it: the United States and Somalia. Both Somalia and the U.S. have signed the treaty, indicating their agreement with it, but they have not ratified it, meaning that they are not required to follow it. Somalia announced in 2009 that it planned to ratify it, but it had not done so as of the beginning of 2012.

More facts about the Convention on the Rights of a Child and children's rights:

  • There are a few reasons why the U.S. hasn't ratified the treaty despite being instrumental in drafting it. Some groups say that the U.S. already follows most of the protocols outlined in the treaty, so it's unnecessary. Others say that signing the treaty would infringe on parental rights or that the treaty would make the government too involved in family life. A particular sticking point is the treaty's prohibition of the death penalty for people who are younger than 18, which until 2005 was legal in some parts of the U.S.

  • Even those countries that have ratified the treaty don't always follow all aspects of it. For instance, the treaty prohibits the corporal punishment of children, which is still allowed in several countries.

  • The Convention on the Rights of a Child is different from the Declaration of the Rights of a Child, which was one of the first internationally adopted children's rights protocols. The Declaration was adopted by the League of Nations and formed the basis for the Convention.

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