10 February 1995

U.S. Signs Convention on Child Rights

At a memorial ceremony today for UNICEF's former Executive Director, James P. Grant, Mrs Clinton said that the president had this morning instructed his secretary of state, Warren Christopher, to take steps to that effect. The U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Madeleine Albright, will sign the convention next week, thus realizing one of Mr. Grant's greatest dreams.

Mrs. Clinton said that she knew how happy and how proud Mr Grant would be about this news. "We owe it to him and to the children to whom he dedicated his life," she said.

The United States will join 176 countries who have already signed, or have become States Parties to the Convention by ratification or accession. To date, 169 countries have ratified the Convention, thereby making it law in their own countries.

In responding to the announcement UNICEF acting Executive Director Richard Jolly said that "Jim Grant was determined by the end of 1995 every country should have ratified the convention, making it the first truly universal international human rights law...Now with the hugely significant announcement by the First Lady, the achievement of this is in sight."

Dr. Gwendolyn Calvert Baker, president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Committee for UNICEF said, "We celebrate the United States' new commitment to making children and families a top priority. U.S. support for the Convention on the Rights of the Child will further enhance worldwide efforts to ensure the survival, protection and development of children everywhere."

The Convention goes further than any previous international human rights instrument. It merges, for the first time, civil and political rights with economic, social and cultural rights. It draws attention to the needs for special protection for children exposed to economic and sexual exploitation and to illegal trafficking. But it also recognizes the child's right to leisure and to play and to live a full and rich life.

The very last letter which Mr. Grant ever wrote was to the President of the United States, Bill Clinton. In it, he said, "Please allow me to stress... that your prompt signing of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child would make a genuine difference for the global effort to achieve universal ratification by the end of 1995, as called for by the 1992 World Conference on Human Rights."

Today the President of the United States fulfilled the last wish of the man who had dedicated his life to the children of the world.

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