EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a guest blog by Mark Engman, Director of Public Policy & Advocacy for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF.
You may have seen the tweet recently from Dr. Timothy Shriver, Chairman of Special Olympics, regarding the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the “CRC”. Here at the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, we really appreciated his willingness to speak up for the rights of children.
Of course, Special Olympics has been a huge supporter of the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD), and my organization is proud to join them in that cause.
The CRC and the CRPD are two sides of the same coin. The CRPD focuses on the rights of all people with disabilities, and mentions children; the CRC focuses on the rights of all children, and mentions disabilities. In order for organizations like Special Olympics and UNICEF to fight for the rights and well-being of all children, and make sure they participate in societies as agents of change and not just recipients of charity, nations need to support both the CRC and the CRPD.
Sadly, the United States has not ratified either human rights treaty. However, there is one difference between the two treaties: President Obama sent the CRPD to the Senate for its consideration; but, though it was signed 21 years ago, the CRC has never been sent to the Senate.
Unbelievably, the United States stand alone: we are the only nation in the world that has not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child. A nation with nearly 74 million children, including at least 3 million children with a disability, has not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The purpose of the Twitter campaign #SendTheCRC was to send the President a message that Americans care about child rights, and want him to take action on the CRC before he leaves office in January 2017. Many different nonprofit organizations that care about children, including Special Olympics, banded together to share this message.
We must keep reminding our political leaders, and our fellow Americans, that rights matter. Our sincere thanks to Dr. Timothy Shriver, Special Olympics, and most of all the athletes of the Special Olympics Movement, for standing up for the rights of all people with disabilities and all children. I know that, working together, we will see a day soon, when the United States joins the rest of the world in ratifying both treaties.
 “Child Population: Number Of Children (In Millions) Ages 0–17 In The United States By Age, 1950–2014 and Projected 2015–2050” http://www.childstats.gov/americaschildren/tables/pop1.asp.
 “Table 1.5: Civilians Ages 5 to 17 Years Living in the Community for the United States and States, by Disability Status: 2014”, Annual Disability Statistics Compendium 2015, accessed at http://disabilitycompendium.org/home.