Daily Trojan Editorial
Baha'i Club's push for women's rights is long overdue
As a leading advocate for human rights, the United States has a compelling interest to improve conditions for women. Yet, as the only democratic nation that has failed to ratify the convention, the United States compromises its credibility as a leader for human rights.
The USC Baha'i Club plans to use the upcoming week to drum up support for U.S. ratification of the convention. A club member said that she hopes she can do her "little part to advance the cause of equality." Hopefully, the United States will take the hint, as groups across the nation do their own little parts to make a big difference in the way the United States treats equal rights for women.
The convention and the United States have been fighting it out for more than a decade. The United States was active in drafting the convention in 1980, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held hearings on it in 1990. At that point, the stalling and hedging began, as the State Department testified that it had not prepared a legal analysis on the convention to determine its compatibility with U.S. law. That prompted the beginning of the convention's seven-year-long dance with the U.S. Congress.
Various promises have been made, and excuses for the ratification delay abound. The United States made ratification of the convention one of its public commitments at 1995's U.N. Conference on Women in Beijing.
More than two years later, the U.S. Senate's signature remains conspicuously absent from the convention.
One reason given for not approving the convention is that it is too similar to the once-proposed Equal Rights Amendment. Perhaps it is, but nothing can be lost by ratifying the international convention. The United States can only gain respect for its support of the equal rights of women throughout the world, not just in this country.
Also, Sen. Jesse Helms, the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has been accused of stalling the ratification process. However, the ratification of an international convention cannot hinge on the will of just one man. The other senators on the committee should push approval of the convention to the forefront of the Senate's priorities, despite any obstacles, in the form of Helms or anyone else, that lie in the way.
The slow progress that the United States has made in ratifying the convention is embarrassing to the Senate and all Americans. The American public is used to filibustering when it comes to this country's bills. We shouldn't have to get used to these needless delays when it comes to international declarations of approval of equal rights.
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