Contested Rights: Debating Australia’s Ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989)
The almost universal ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) (1989) is often cited as evidence of progress towards a global consensus around children’s rights. Yet, at the level of implementation, the convention has been a mixed success.
This paper provides insight into this gap in implementation from an Australian perspective, through an investigation of the public debates that accompanied the federal government’s ratification of the CRC in 1990.
While welcomed by many children’s rights, education and welfare groups, the CRC also prompted vocal and ongoing opposition. The sources of dissent – ranging from objections to state interference in the family to concerns about the implications of ratification for national sovereignty – reflect persistent sources of conflict over the CRC and other international human rights instruments.
This paper will use a range of sources, including parliamentary debates, government records, media sources and political ephemera, to reconstruct this early contest over the CRC and assess its legacy.
Dr Isobelle Barrett Meyering is a Macquarie University Research Fellow in the Department of History and Archaeology, and is currently working on a history of children’s rights in Australia.
Dr Barrett Meyering is a current Visiting Fellow with the HRC
This series is an opportunity for our HRC Visiting Fellows to present and receive feedback on the research they are working on. In 2022 , Visiting Fellows are exploring the theme of Mobilities