Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Centaur Scrolls: The Financial Burden of the CRC

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is more that just a goodwill statement on the need to protect and provide for children across the world: ratifying the CRC also leaves substantial financial obligations on the member-state. Regardless of the size and economic stability of the nation, the Committee on the Rights of the Child (the Committee) consistently requires more and more government spending on child welfare programs.

From the reports issued by the Committee, only substantial portions of the national budget and/or GDP are accepted as pleasing sacrifices. In their concluding remarks to Mongolia, the Committee states that it “recognizes the efforts made by the State party to increase the social budget, particularly in education, which represents up to 20 percent of the national budget,” yet it recommends that the state “increase resources for children including under the Human Development Fund governing resources from extractive activities.” Apparently, 20 percent of the national budget is not enough.

In other reports, the Committee hints at percentages of GDP, not just the national budget. In the report for Ecuador, “the Committee welcomes the constitutional provision to allocate at least 5% and 6% of GDP to health and education, respectively,” while still asking that there be additional support for child welfare and education programs. While America may not be required to spend 5% ($710 billion) and 6% ($852 billion) respectively on child health and education (for a combined total of $1.56 trillion), this level of national spending has certainly not been considered enough to please the Committee. Tajikistan was commanded to “increase substantially” the proportion of their GDP; they are currently devoting 3-4% to child health and welfare.

But the worst demands from the Committee have been against the poorest countries of the world; those who cannot afford to pay, and generally tend to have the worst problems. Albania, Europe’s poorest country, has been pressured to provide additional funding of child programs despite a heavily damaged economy. Albania is one of the prime provider nation-states for human trafficking, especially for sexual slaves, because women in the country need work and are easily persuaded into the business. While the Committee applauded the to-date unsuccessful efforts of the Albanian government to reduce the number of women and children involved in sexual and human trafficking, they still required Albania to increase spending on child welfare programs such as child councils which promote free discussion while taking away valuable resources from other problems, including the sexual trafficking of women to Italy.

We find similar mandates imposed on Zimbabwe (Africa’s poorest country), Cambodia (Southeast Asia’s poorest country), and Bolivia (South America’s poorest country): there is no sympathy for weak, depressed economies. What is more, the Committee openly recognizes that high unemployment and a poor economy exist in the nation, and that this is impeding implementation of the CRC. Yet while they recognize the severely damaged state of the economy, they offer no assistance, and instead add to the demands of increased funding.

Bolivia is a particularly sad case. The poorest country in South America, Bolivia lacks both the ability to adequately enforce its current laws, let alone the demands of international agencies and governing bodies. In their recommendations, the Committee demanded that Bolivia spend its financial resources on “strengthen[ing] children’s participation in councils, forums, children’s parliaments and the like,” and “regularly review the extent to which children’s views are taken into consideration, including their impact on relevant policies and programmes” in accordance with Article 12 of the Convention. While laudable, these desires are placed on the same level as the need to combat drug trafficking, sexual slavery, and child labor. The state party lacks financial resources enough to meet current needs—how are they expected to meet new demands which are not nearly the same caliber of importance as current concerns?

What is more, the Committee demands that member-states prioritize this spending over other areas of the economy and budget: “The Committee recommends that the State party review budgetary allocations and pay particular attention to the full implementation of article 4 of the Convention by prioritizing budgetary allocations to ensure implementation of the economic, social and cultural rights of children. . . .” It is not enough to fund child welfare programs; they must be prioritized over national defense, tax breaks for businesses, and other programs which do not “ensure implementation of the economic, social, and cultural rights of children.” From what we have seen from Albania and other countries, “ensure implementation” necessitates fiscally irresponsible behavior—there is always more that can be done to solve a problem, leaving no logical stopping point for government spending.

The United Nations offers partial financial assistance (courtesy of the American taxpayer and other individuals from wealthy nations who support the United Nations) to member-states who are not able to fully implement the demands of the Committee due to monetary restraints. As Americans, however, we recognize the dangers in accepting financial aid from the government: it comes with strings attached. While we all definitely believe in providing for children and meeting their economic and cultural needs, should a foreign governing entity mandate how we spend our money? More than that, should they be able to mandate how we prioritize the spending of our money?

On April 17, 2001, the Committee on the Rights of the Child released “General Comment No. 1: The Aims of Education,” which outlines how prominent education spending should be in member-states. According to Article 28 of the General Comment, proper compliance with the demands of the committee “will require human and financial resources which should be available to the maximum extent possible.” What is meant by “to the maximum extent possible”? According to Article 28 of the General Comment, “the maximum extent possible” extends above and beyond the abilities of the economy: the Committee writes that “resource constraints cannot provide a justification for a State party’s failure to take any, or enough, of the measures that are required.”

What would they demand of us if we join? While the United States is not in the position to increase government spending, we would most certainly be required to increase national spending at a time when fiscal responsibility is in question. While the Committee has no direct jurisdiction over our national or state governments, because the CRC would be the “supreme law of the land” under Article VI of the US Constitution, the demands which it makes are tantamount to demands made by our constitution.

Furthermore, according to Article 45(d) of the Convention, the clarifications of the Committee on any article of the CRC are equivalent to the CRC itself as interpretations of its meaning and application, and thus affect state and national legislatures if we uphold our sacred honor. If by ratifying the Convention we give our word to uphold it, which should be the case if we sign our names to the document through ratification, then we either stand to significantly increase national spending or we lose our sacred honor. Neither is a pleasant option.

The Committee has further demanded that member-states increase the size of government in protecting and providing for children, expanding child welfare programs along with the need for added financial support. In the report given to Burkina Faso, the Committee recommended “that priority be given to the establishment [of] a social security system and the provision of increased material assistance and support to economically disadvantaged children. . . .” While not all social security systems are akin to the American system, the material point is that there is a motion for a new, large government agency to assist with child assistance.

As Americans who believe in fiscal responsibility, we must recognize the dangers attached to ratifying the CRC. This is not just a goodwill statement which affirms our dedication to protecting children: it is a commitment to increased government spending on child and social programs which extend beyond the intended scope of our government. The United States has ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography (OPSC), as well as Optional Protocol on Children in Armed Conflict (OPAC), which are the primary abuses cited as reasons for ratifying the CRC. Ratification would impose added burdens on our liberties and economy while providing no additional benefit.

We also know that the United Nations has supported the Health Care Bill passed by the US Congress. Nile Gardiner notes in his article in the Telegraph that “The UN, probably the most corrupt and ineffective multilateral body on the face of the earth, which devotes much of its time trying to undermine American global power, has officially given its blessing to Barack Obama’s hugely controversial and unpopular legislation.” Margaret Chan, Director of the World Health Organization, applauded American legislators for their “unprecedented achievement.” Extensive government deficit spending on social welfare programs, it would seem, is “an unprecedented achievement” in the eyes of the United Nations.

In this same speech, she also mentioned how this bill showed US sympathy for the intent behind the Millenium Declaration passed in 2000, which stressed the importance of globalization and exorbitant government spending on foreign aid. She quotes the Declaration, where it says: “The central challenge we face today is to ensure that globalization becomes a positive force for all the world’s people. Those who suffer or benefit least deserve help from those who benefit most.” While everyone believes that a young child should not be left to die because he lacks health care, wealth distribution is by no means the most fiscally responsible way of achieving this goal. Furthermore, the United Nations is not known for its accountability and efficiency in money management.

But even more dangerous was her statement on the intent of the Declaration as it is carried out in practice: “The Declaration called on donors to harmonize their actions and make funding more predictable and sustainable. They were also asked to channel aid in support of national priorities and in ways that strengthen existing infrastructures and capacities, rather than circumventing them by building parallel structures and services.” Not only should taxpayer money be consistently funneled into this system, it should be devoted to government social welfare programs instead of “parallel structures and services,” namely, non-government health care providers who compete in a capitalistic economy.

If this is what we want, ratify the CRC. If you, like me, are appalled at the thought of foreigners breathing down our necks and making decisions for us on domestic policy and the complete mismanagement of resources and monetary supplies in the name of "helping children" without proving results, I am asking you to join me in fighting back.

The Parental Rights Amendment stands as a permanent solution to the problem: not only will it make ratification of the CRC impossible, it will also fight the expanding influence of international law through activist judges within our nation. Visit www.parentalrights.org for more information, and get involved in the war today.

Seek the truth,
Find it, and defend it to the death,


"Will they follow me?" -- High King Peter
"To the death." -- Oreius the Centaur

No comments:

Post a Comment

As moderator, I reserve the right to edit or reject any and all posts on this blog. Speak respectfully--even talking animals have a sense of decency, :-D