The convention on the rights of the child (CRC) is an international treaty that protects children from all forms of discrimination by providing children with basic rights and mandating governments to observing those rights. The convention has fifty-four articles. Forty of these articles address themselves to substantial rights that range from political to cultural rights (Kaime 2011, p. 16). This essay tries to establish the achievements, failures and strengths of the CRC. The paper argues that the said treaty has more strengths and achievements than failures.
Strengths and achievements
To start with, a treaty simply refers to a written international agreement that according to Villiger must be concluded between states and should be governed by international law (Villiger 2009, p. 76). This agreement may be contained in a single instrument or more instruments that are related to one another. With regard to this definition, it is clear that every international treaty is based on international law. As such, it should refer to international law when making critical decisions. Looking at the treaty in question, it is clear that it refers to international law whenever making critical decisions that relate to children. It is also clear that it is based on international law. First, on article 41, it is evident that the treaty does not violate international law. Instead, its bases are on international law as well as state laws. Second, on article 40(2), it is evident that the said treaty is based on international law because it refers to it. To a great extent, this serves as one of the strengths of the treaty on the rights of children.
Once again, referring to the above definition, it is clear that international treaties are formed by state members. This means that international treaties cannot exist in the absence of states. In other words, states must come together to form these treaties. Looking at the treaty in question, it is clear that states have come together to form this treaty. This is in relation to the fact that the treaty keeps on referring to state parties. For example, article 2 starts by defining what state members need to do to be part of the treaty. Other articles keep on referring to state parties. This indicates that various states have been involved in the formation of the treaty in question (Villiger 2009, p. 81). This basic element of international treaties strengthens CRC as an international treaty.
One critical thing to note with this treaty is that it contains fifty-four articles, and that each of these articles addresses itself to one particular issue. For example, the first article addresses itself to the definition of a child while the 33rd article addresses itself to drug abuse. For the international treaties, this is a critical element that strengthens them by clarifying issues. The CRC has adopted this practice for the same reason. Apart from containing articles that address themselves to particular issues, the treaty covers a number of issues that affect children. Some of these issues include protection from child labor and prostitution, guaranteeing education and good life to children, giving children rights to play and protecting them from discrimination among other issues. With regard to this issue, it has been suggested that treaties should concern themselves with 4P’s. As an achievement, the first P for CRC should concern itself with participation of children in making decisions that affect them. The second P should concern itself with protecting children from all discriminatory acts. The third P should concern itself with preventing children from harm while the fourth P should concern itself with provision for assistance to children (Kaime 2011, p. 17). Over and above, the treaty in question can be said to satisfy the 4P’s because of the following reasons. First, the treaty encourages state parties to include organizations that protect children when making critical decisions that affect children. It also encourages those organizations to act in the best interests of children (Howe & Covell 2013, p. 26). Second, to a great extent, the treaty can be said that it protects children from different forms of discriminations. The treaty does this by identifying various forms of discriminations and outlining what state parties should do about each of these discriminations. Third, the treaty protects children from harm by identifying possible harms and committing state members to protecting children from those harms. For example, the treaty protects children from violence by identifying various forms of violence and committing state parties to protecting children from those forms of violence. Fourth, the treaty encourages state parties to facilitate for the provision of basic needs to children. Given that CRC treaty satisfies these 4P’s, then it has achieved significantly as an international treaty.
According to Klabbers (1996, p. 72), treaties are valid if state parties have free consent to those treaties. This means that state parties should not be coerced into signing treaties. In relation to this fact, some states and countries in the world may not be parties to CRC treaty. Although this might downplay the critical role CRC treaty plays in protecting children, it strengthens CRC as an international treaty because it promotes autonomy among state parties. As at 2014, only three countries were not state parties to CRC. These countries include USA, Somalia and South Sudan (Davidson 2014, p. 499). Once again, while this might appear as a weakness, it strengthens CRC because state parties are free to join either by signing the treaty or exchanging instruments that constitute the said treaty.
In terms of defining its scope, CRC treaty can be considered to be clear and succinct on this issue because of the following reasons. First, the treaty starts by defining a child as a person that is below eighteen years of age. Second, the treaty goes ahead to outlining that it applies to all children regardless of their ethnicity, ability, religion and gender. By so doing, the treaty defines its scope clearly and succinctly (Dorr & Schmalenbach 2011, p. 21). This strengthens the treaty.
In terms of failures, given that the treaty gives room for state parties to apply their national laws in implementing the treaty, CRC treaty is susceptible to varying interpretations and implementations. Such variations may emerge from differences in state laws among the state parties. This means that a state party may implement the treaty differently thereby undermine the treaty. Although such a state may be said to violate international law, such a state may defend itself on the basis of its national law. This weakens the treaty even if it tries to address this issue broadly.
Over and above, in spite of the few shortcomings, the CRC treaty is a strong international treaty because it addresses the various elements of international treaties. First, the treaty is based on international law and to some extent on national laws. Second, the scope of the treaty is clear and succinct. Third, the treaty gives state parties autonomy by allowing them to become members freely. This notwithstanding the treaty is weak because national laws may undermine its implementation.
Davidson, H., 2014. Does the UN convention on the rights of the child make a difference? Michigan State International Law Review, 22(2), pp. 497-530.
Dorr, O. & Schmalenbach, K., 2011. Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties: A Commentary. Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. Berlin, Springer.
Howe, R. & Covell, K., 2013. Education in the best interests of the child: a children’s rights perspective on closing the achievement gap. Toronto, University of Toronto Press.
Kaime, T., 2011. The Convention on the Rights of the Child: a cultural legitimacy critique. Groningen, Europa Law Publishing.
Klabbers, J., 1996. The concept of treaty in international law. The Hague, Kluwer Law International.
Villiger, M., 2009. Commentary on the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. Leiden, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers.