Sen. Jim DeMint, Washington, D.C., August 4, 2010. (CNSNews.com photo/Penny Starr)
Washington (CNSNews.com) – Sen. Jim DeMint (R- S.C.) said that if President Barack Obama gets his way and the Senate ratifies the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the precedent would be set to place parental rights under the jurisdiction of the international community.
“We believe we need to take clear action here in Congress to protect the rights of parents to raise their children," DeMint said at a Wednesday panel discussion. "This treaty would, in fact, establish a precedent that those rights have been given over to the international community."
DeMint is lead sponsor of S. Res. 519, a resolution to protect parental rights, which is co-sponsored by 30 senators total. Only four more senators need to sign on to inform President Obama that he does not have enough votes in the Senate to ratify the treaty, DeMint said.
DeMint has also introduced a joint resolution, proposing a constitutional amendment to protect parental rights.
Under Article 2, Section 2 of the U. S. Constitution, treaties must be approved by a two-thirds majority of the Senate for them to take effect.
The U.N. adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child on Nov. 20, 1989. By Sept. 2, 1990, 20 nations signed on to enforce the treaty. Currently, with the exception of the United States and Somalia, 193 nations have signed on to enforce it.
Nations that ratify U.N. treaties are bound to adhere to them by international law.
The convention established an 18-member panel to oversee children’s rights in nations that are part of the treaty. If approved by the Senate, the United States would fall under the jurisdiction of this panel.
DeMint said the threat to parental rights is “not some theoretical threat.”
He also said that ratification of the treaty would be “a terrible precedent” not just for parental rights, “but in other areas that we’ve looked at.”
“It submits our federal laws, our national laws to this treaty,” DeMint told CNSNews.com. “And the fact is that we don’t know exactly how it’s going to run, but we know how bureaucracy works. Once a precedent is established and we have yielded control, we know that it will continue to grow. So the precedent is almost worse than the immediate details.”
DeMint also said that the treaty is superfluous because there are laws already that safeguard abused children in the United States.
“We have laws in place,” DeMint said. “And when we have a parent that abuses a child, in our country, we have laws to protect our children. So we don’t need an international law that was developed for a third world country.”
Asked by a reporter how to hold child abusers accountable, given high levels of child abuse in the U.S., according to statistics, DeMint said that the social services system may not be perfect, but that it is at least under U.S. control.
“The fact that there’s not perfection in our system does not mean that we go to the United Nations for help,” he added.
While DeMint is in the forefront of opposition to the convention, liberal Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) is leading the charge for its adoption.
During the Senate confirmation hearing of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, held in January of 2009, Boxer told Rice the treaty would protect "the most vulnerable people of society."
"Children deserve basic human rights,” Boxer said at the time, “and the convention protects children’s rights by setting some standards here so that the most vulnerable people of society will be protected."
Boxer also labeled the fact that only the United States and Somalia are non-participants to the treaty as a “shame.”
Boxer has urged the Obama administration to review the treaty for the purpose of adopting it. The United States is already a part of two optional provisions in the treaty, namely relating to child prostitution and child soldiers. Boxer, however, is pushing for full participation in the treaty.
DeMint said there is a “pervasive attitude” in Washington at present that the federal government has “complete control over everything.” The U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, he said, is government intrusion to the last degree.
“If the government, or even the international community, tell you how to raise your children here in America, is there anything that’s off limits?” DeMint asked.