“The spread of small arms
creates a serious global
problem and requires an equally urgent response because the lives and futures of children are at stake. These weapons have extinguished more young lives than they have protected.”
—Carol Bellamy, Executive Director
United Nations International
Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF)
The vast majority of Americans, regardless of their opinions on the increasing scope of international law, agree with the proposition that children should not be used as soldiers. Accordingly, much of the United Nations literature that addresses children and guns deals with this military-related issue.
“REGULATIONS ARE NEEDED
TO ENSURE THAT SMALL
However, a second theme is quickly found in virtually all UN pronouncements about child soldiers and weapons. UN child’s rights advocates believe, teach, and promote the idea that all private gun ownership is dangerous for children, and that children have the right to grow up in a gun-free community.
As the campaign to seek ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) intensifies, it is important for all Americans to understand the application of this children’s rights treaty to the issue of private gun ownership by American citizens.
Limiting the rights of gun ownership is not some secret agenda of the UN, but is open for all to see. UNICEF, the official UN agency charged with the worldwide advancement of children’s rights, has published a four-color brochure entitled No Guns, Please: We Are Children. The quotation given at the opening of this article is taken from the front cover of this UNICEF brochure.
Inside this brochure, we find the following assertions about guns and children:
- “Small arms* and light weapons
kill and disable more children and adults than any other instrument
of violence, in conflict and post-conflict situations and on the streets of cities worldwide. Deaths linked to small arms and light weapons every year run into the hundreds
of thousands, with those injured exceeding 1 million.”
- “Small arms and light weapons cause profound physical and emotional damage, particularly to children, and affect their welfare.”
- “In societies destabilized by the use of small arms and light weapons, children are denied many of their human rights, including their rights to freedom from violence and exploitation, survival and development, health care, education and care within a family environment. As a result, hard-won developmental gains are often lost and may even be reversed.”
- “In communities enjoying relative peace, children witness and are traumatized by the use of small arms and light weapons in domestic violence and in disputes. Children also become accidental victims because adults fail to keep the weapons out of their reach.”
Two crucial conclusions can be drawn from these assertions:
First, the UN intends to address far more than children in war; its object is to eliminate the “threat” posed by guns from the lives of all children whether their community is characterized as “in conflict,” “post-conflict,” “destabilized,” or “enjoying relative peace.” Guns are a threat “on the streets of cities worldwide.”
Second, the UN contends that the threat posed by guns violates the “human rights” of children.
There can be no doubt that the UN believes that the CRC is applicable to this issue. In this same pamphlet it declares: “The Convention on the Rights of the Child sets out comprehensive principles and standards to guide all actions and attitudes towards children.”
Thus, a nation that willingly accepts this treaty has made a legally binding agreement of international law to regulate its public policy towards all issues in a manner that is consistent with the UN vision on children’s human rights. If this statement were made in some other context, there might be some room for argument that the UN doesn’t really mean to include gun ownership within the sweep of comprehensive “standards to guide all actions and attitudes towards children.” But this statement was made in an official brochure entitled No Guns, Please: We Are Children.
This official UN brochure
then clarifies the kind of public policy required towards firearms based upon these human rights
- “Efforts must be ongoing to overcome the destructive messages that small arms and light weapons are essential instruments for survival and protection in daily life.”
- “Governments must support communities in eliminating the insecurity, fear and instability that often lead people to acquire and keep guns.”
- “Regulations are needed to ensure that small arms and light weapons are not easy to acquire and are never accessible to children.”
The UN believes that the idea that small arms are “essential instruments for survival and protection” is destructive. Remember that the CRC purports to govern all actions and attitudes. The very belief that guns are necessary for protection is therefore considered a destructive attitude that violates the “respect for human rights” required by the CRC.*
There can be no doubt of the meaning of the statement: “Regulations are needed to ensure that small arms and light weapons are not easy to acquire and are never accessible to children.”
The official UN pamphlet makes it plain that nations need to “implement laws to protect children
from having access to small arms.” Moreover, the UN says that states should “collect and destroy small arms
through community programmes in which civil society plays a key role.”
The UN actively promotes the idea that small arms conflict with the human rights of children protected by the CRC. Yet another UN publication, the Small Arms and Children: UNICEF Fact Sheet, states:
UNICEF, together with the United Nations Department for Disarmament Affairs, has designed an exhibit, shown around the world, called “Taking Aim at Small Arms: Defending Child Rights”. The exhibit documents the scourge of small arms and light weapons, emphasizing their prevalence worldwide and the toll they take on human lives—especially children.
Thus, it is clear that UNICEF believes that in order to comply with the principles of children’s rights contained in the CRC, the United States would need to adopt regulations to make it difficult for adults to acquire small arms and light weapons. Moreover, we would need to adopt regulations that prohibit weapons from ever being accessible to children.
In another UN official publication, Guide to the Implementation of the World Programme of Action for Youth, the following laws are advocated as necessary for the protection of children’s rights:
- “Explore enacting bans on all handguns to civilians or certain cheap models that are attractive to youth.”
- “Call for restrictions on the number of guns that can be purchased in a one-month or one-year period.”
It is essential to understand the interplay between treaties and state laws. Article VI of the United States Constitution provides:
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
In Missouri v. Holland, 252 U.S. 416 (1920), the state of Missouri challenged the constitutionality of federal interference with the state hunting laws concerning migratory birds. Federal game officials had intervened in Missouri based upon a treaty with Canada. The United States Supreme Court ruled that the treaty, and not Missouri’s state laws on hunting, was supreme. State law—including state hunting laws—must give way to treaties.
Thus, even if current state laws permit children to obtain hunting licenses and possess and discharge firearms for these purposes, such laws would have to give way to a treaty that contends that firearms should “never be accessible to children.”
The UN agenda for children does not stop with the direct disarming of individuals. Article 29 of the CRC imposes educational standards on nations who become parties to the treaty. This includes “peace education,” which in other UN contexts means disarmament education. The UN World Congress on Disarmament Education adopted the following statements:
- Definition of disarmament:
“For the purposes of disarmament education, disarmament may be understood as any form of action aimed at limiting, controlling or reducing arms, including unilateral disarmament initiatives, and, ultimately, general and complete disarmament under effective international control. It may also be understood as a process aimed at transforming the current system of armed nation States into a new world order of planned unarmed peace in which war is no longer an instrument of national policy and peoples determine their own future and live in security based on justice and solidarity.”
- Links with human rights and
“As an integral part of peace education, disarmament education has essential links with human rights education and development education, in so far as each of the three terms peace, human rights and development must be defined in relation to the other two. Moreover, disarmament education offers an occasion to elucidate emerging concepts such as the individual and collective rights to peace and to development, based on the satisfaction of material and non-material human needs.”
If the U.S. Senate ratifies the CRC, we will have become willing parties in a regime that obligates us to disarm our citizens, keep guns from children, and indoctrinate American children to believe in the utopia of world disarmament. This will cause our nation to surrender our own defenses and rest in the “security” of a world based on “individual and collective rights.”
* The UN pamphlet defines small arms as follows: “Small arms are designed for personal use. They include revolvers and self-loading pistols, assault rifles, sub-machine guns, rifles and carbines and light machine-guns.”
* Read the full text of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child at www.parentalrights.org.
UNICEF. No Guns, Please: We Are Children. New York: United Nations, 2001.
UNICEF. “Small Arms and Children: UNICEF Fact Sheet,” United Nations Conference on Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in all its Aspects, http://disarmament.un.org/cab/smallarms/presskit/sheet5.htm.
United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Guide to the Implementation of the World Programme of Action for Youth. New York: United Nations, 2006. ST/ESA/309. http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unyin/documents/wpay_guide.pdf. Quoted: p. 24.
United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. World Congress on Disarmament
Education. Report and Final Document. 9–13 June 1980. http://www.un.org/disarmament/education/docs/uneco.pdf. Quoted: Section A, paragraphs 2 and 7.