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Ex cathedra

James P. Grant, Executive Director of UNICEF from 1980 until his death in January 1995, persuaded many heads of state to sign the Convention on the Rights of the Child. To see the Convention universally ratified was one of his greatest ambitions, and the failure to sign of his own country, the United States, was one of his greatest frustrations.

From his hospital bed on the day before his death, Jim Grant wrote to President Clinton urging that the Convention be signed by the US before the end of 1995.

On February 10th 1995, at a memorial service held for Jim Grant in the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, New York, First Lady Hillary Clinton paid the one tribute he would have wanted:

"One of his great hopes was that the Convention on the Rights of the Child would serve as a statement of principle that would guide us into the next century. Therefore I am pleased to announce that the United States will sign the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This morning the President instructed Secretary of State Christopher to take the necessary steps to that effect."

Six days later, on February 16th 1995, the United States formally signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Sources: (all ratification and reporting details for the Convention on the Rights of the Child) United Nations Office of Legal Affairs and United Nations Centre for Human Rights, mid-April 1995.