Human Rights Watch today called on the United States to support the rights of children during an upcoming UN General Assembly Special Session on Children. The session is a follow-up to the 1990 World Summit on Children and will draw more than 80 heads of state or government to New York from September 19-21.

"The United States has tried to downplay children's rights throughout the negotiations," said Jo Becker, children's rights advocacy director for Human Rights Watch. "Its attempts to remove references to the Convention on the Rights of the Child only highlight the U.S.'s failure to ratify the treaty."

The United States and Somalia are the only countries in the world that have not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The convention is the most universally-ratified treaty in history, with 191 states party to the treaty.

Governments are still negotiating to try to finalize the declaration and plan of action that will be adopted during the special session. The plan of action addresses children's health, education, HIV/AIDS, and protection from violence, abuse and exploitation.

"The Convention should be the starting point for stronger efforts to fully implement children's rights in all parts of the world," said Becker. "Instead of undercutting the importance of the convention, the Bush administration should focus its energies on securing ratification."