one of Canada's 2 national newspaper
The National Post, Saturday, November 20, 1999
Yesterday, children across Canada were asked to select their most cherished UN right in a national "election" for the Rights of Youth, held to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Child. Despite a strong early showing, the "right to rest and play" placed fifth -- behind the rights to family, food and shelter, health, and education.
Things ran smoothly despite a write-in campaign from the "right to play hookey" crowd, which was strongly rumoured to be staging an upset.
"This historic experience will be a valuable lesson in democracy for the young Canadians who participate," said Jean Pierre Kingsley, Canada's Chief Election Officer. UNICEF posted up-to-the-minute reports on a Web site -- itsyourvoice.com -- a clever, if grammatically flawed, gimmick.
Now, in principle, giving today's children a lesson in democracy -- even if it costs $600,000 in taxpayer dollars -- is a worthwhile endeavour. But this mock election and the UN convention that it celebrates have little to do with democracy.
The children's "rights" championed by the UN give pre-teens the right to refuse to go to church, sue their parents, join a gang, download pornography off the Internet, or have an abortion. All these rights are granted against parents and guaranteed by the state.
In other words, "children's rights" do not empower children at all. They are merely another device to transfer power from the family to government. There is no suggestion that a child should be allowed to join a gang, download information from the Internet, or have an abortion if the welfare authorities disapprove. It is only parents who are forbidden to forbid these things.
Fortunately, anybody with common sense can grasp the nonsense underlying the rhetoric of children's rights: that young children are fragile and irrational beings who need their parents far more than they need the United Nations.
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