Autor: ---- Fuente: C-FAM (Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute)

Last week, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child sought to weaken parents' authority to guide their children's access to contraceptives and other sexual and reproductive services and information. At the conclusion of its current session in Geneva, the Committee released a general comment on adolescent health in which it asserts that all countries that have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) should "strictly respect the right to privacy and confidentiality, including confidential advice and counseling on all health matters," and "that access to information on sexual and reproductive health be accessible regardless of prior consent from parents or guardians."

The Committee exists to guide nations' implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a document that has now been ratified by every country on earth except Somalia and the United States. After a country ratifies CRC, it must submit periodic reports to the Committee, which then determines if the country is in compliance with the Convention. The Committee has the ultimate power to interpret the CRC document, and to establish what legal obligations the Convention creates for ratifying nations.

Many scholars of international law worry about the broad interpretive powers possessed by the Committee. For instance, Brigham Young University law professor Richard Wilkins has frequently charged that the Committee, through its radical interpretation of the CRC document, has in effect created new legal obligations never imagined by nations when they ratified the original Convention. In this case, the CRC document nowhere mentions that children have a right to such reproductive and sexual services without their parents' knowledge or consent.

The current general comment builds upon other controversial Committee interpretations of CRC. For instance, in a general comment on HIV/AIDS issued in 2002, the Committee said that states are responsible for providing children with "confidential sexual and reproductive health services, free or low cost contraception, condoms and services." The Committee also showed "particular concern" for ".taboos or negative or judgmental attitudes to sexual activity of girls, often limiting their access to preventative measures and other services. Of concern also is discrimination based on sexual orientation." Free contraceptives and sexual orientation are not mentioned in the original document.

The Committee has also informed individual nations that they must comply with these interpretations. For example, the Committee has told Grenada that it should increase ".its efforts in promoting adolescent health policies and counseling services, as well as strengthening reproductive health education, including the promotion of male acceptance of the use of contraceptives." The Committee has told Djibouti to "provide access to information about sexual and reproductive health, and that services in this area be user friendly and address the concerns and need for confidentiality of adolescents."
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