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At U.N., U.S. Fights For The Right To Commit Violence Against Children

Gage Skidmore/Flickr

The Trump administration has twice pushed for the term "unlawful violence" to protect acts such as corporal punishment.

In yet another example of U.S. disagreement with the rest of the world, the Trump administration is at odds with a United Nations resolution addressing violence against women and children. One of the major sticking points? The right of parents and schools to physically discipline children.

Foreign Policy notes that corporal punishment in schools is still legal in numerous states:

American conservatives have long been suspicious of what they see as U.N. threats to U.S. sovereignty, and especially U.N. efforts to broaden the rights of children. They view those efforts as a threat to parental control over their offspring and to the practice of corporal punishment, which is still legal in public schools in more than 20 states in the United States, particularly in the South. The United States is the only country in the world that is not party to the 1990 Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In closed-door meetings, the U.S. is opposing the resolution's language denouncing "all forms of violence" against children, lobbying for a replacement of "unlawful violence".

“We had a pretty absurd discussion on the Convention for the Rights of the Child,” said one European ambassador. “They want to speak of unlawful forms of violence against children, implying there are lawful forms of violence against children.”

A second issue is the rights of detained undocumented children:

A draft resolution obtained by FP shows that the Trump administration also sought to remove language granting detained children the legal right to “maintain contact with their family through correspondence and visits from the moment they are arrested.” The U.S. prefers weaker language indicating detained children should be “permitted” to maintain such contact with their families. A Nov. 9 draft of the resolution indicated that the U.S. had failed to win support for this amendment either.

The U.S. took a similar position with regard to language used in a resolution focused on women, again calling for the phrase "unlawful violence" to be used.

And in a separate U.N. resolution promoting a more central role for women in development, the United States also pressed earlier this month for an amendment prohibiting only “unlawful violence” toward women.

Shannon Kowalski, director of advocacy and policy at the International Women's Health Coalition, minced no words in responding to the U.S. proposal:

“The Trump administration has gone beyond disparaging multilateralism to take unprecedented positions that are completely out of line with global consensus and that deliberately hurt women.”

“By taking such an extreme position, the U.S. would turn into a leading voice for perpetuating abuse and denying justice to millions of women and girls in countries where some of the most common forms of violence are still legal,” she said.

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