The Observatory and Children’s Legal Centre Wales have links with child rights activists and researchers in many countries across the world, including the USA. This summer our work was represented at a major international conference held online and across time zones over 3 days 22 – 24 June 2022. Organised and hosted by Observatory collaborator Professor Yvonne Vissing, Salem State University, the conference brought together people from diverse disciplines and backgrounds to exchange experience, research findings and views relevant to children’s rights in the USA.

The United States, famously, is the only country in the world not to have ratified the UNCRC, despite the United States having been a major contributor to the drafting of the Convention during the 10 years of its negotiation from 1979 to 1989. Today, the prospect of ratification seems more remote than ever, due in part to entrenched opposition from those who wrongly view the Convention as a threat to parents in the sphere of their private family life.

Yet there are many examples of efforts to use the UNCRC at levels of governance and activism across the US government. The conference featured ways in which state legislatures, local authorities, community groups and youth-led groups in the USA are taking a child rights approach to dealing with issues such as climate change, democratic engagement, gun control, child abuse, poverty, homelessness, inequalities, and human rights education.

This deployment of the UNCRC in law and policy at ‘sub-nation State’ levels resonates strongly with what has happened in the United Kingdom, where first Wales, and then Scotland, have used devolved governmental powers to integrate the requirements of the UNCRC at a faster pace than the UK Government. At the Conference, both Scottish and Welsh experience were shared. A video about the Observatory was shown, and this is now also available to view on the Observatory’s web pages here:


A legacy product from the conference is a Children’s Human Rights Resource, Networking, and Learning Library, including videos and presentations shared at the conference and much more. It includes many educational materials, web links and suggestions for reading. It is intended as a living resource and Professor Vissing welcomes suggestions for further contributions.

Blog by Professor Jane Williams

Image from Conference Materials