The Magazine

This Is No Time to Go Wobbly

After 29 years, Senate ratification of the CEDAW treaty is still a terrible idea.

Apr 27, 2009, Vol. 14, No. 30 • By AUSTIN RUSE
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Which brings us to the final big reason for refusing to ratify the CEDAW treaty. Like every kangaroo court, it undermines the rule of law, and in this case it also sullies the international system. If the treaty obligations of sovereign states can be reinterpreted by this committee and then accepted by national courts, the concept of sovereignty has been drained of meaning. For that matter, the whole notion of human rights is up for grabs if left-wing nonstate actors are allowed to create and impose new human rights at will.

It is tempting to assume that neither the CEDAW treaty nor the committee could affect a big, strong country like the United States. But remember, the Supreme Court decision in Roper v. Simmons overturning the juvenile death penalty cited the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, a treaty the United States has never ratified. The Court also cited the death penalty provision of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a provision the Senate formally rejected when approving the covenant. Far from deterred, the left-wing legal class in this country is primed and ready to advance litigation citing CEDAW, and high officials toeing the feminist line are eager to give them that chance.

Still, sensible politicians of both parties have found good reason to resist this troublesome treaty for a generation. May they once more carry the day.

Austin Ruse is president of C-FAM (the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute), a New York and Washington-based research institute on international social policy.