07 May You Know International Law Is Getting Some Traction When . . .
. . . your fourth-grader is being taught about the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Mine had a class last week in which the class was divided into groups, each one given a provision of the treaty, about which they had to develop responses and questions. His group got article 27, recognizing a child’s right to an adequate standard of living, including with respect to food, clothing, and housing. Their main question: why is it that the so many children don’t have these things even though the treaty says they should? Good question!
My son goes to a lefty Quaker school in the Northeast; this kind of lesson plan is no doubt still unusual elsewhere in the US. (The elementary school teacher that starts teaching the CRC, say, here, would probably be out of a job.) But it may be a more routine part of primary schooling in Europe, and the UN is otherwise starting to make international law and human rights accessible to the junior set (check out this excellent short, for example). It’s only one step from trick-or-treating for UNICEF to assimilating a kind of cultural familiarity with international law. In a jokey sort of way, my son turned around that afternoon and claimed that the CRC gave him a right to an afternoon snack, in the same way that kids will sometimes claim they have a constitutional right to something that’s being (rightfully) denied them. International law will grow up with this generation.