Friday, October 3, 2008

Resolution Condemning UN

Resolution Condemning UN
Committees Introduced in US
House of Representatives

By Austin Ruse

WASHINGTON, DC – C-FAM) A resolution was introduced in the United States House of Representatives this week condemning two United Nations committees. The non-binding resolution was introduced by Republican Thad McCotter (R-MI) and specifically condemns actions taken by the Human Rights Committee (HRC) and the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

The resolution singles out these two committees for reinterpreting hard-law treaties to include a right to abortion and trying to force sovereign states who have ratified the treaties into accepting these new interpretations.

The resolution charges that the committees’ "unelected members...operate without any formal oversight and entirely unaccountable to the United Nations system and Member States." The resolution further charges that these "unelected members…change the meaning" of the documents they are charged with monitoring "from the original text negotiated by sovereign states."

Though neither the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights nor the CEDAW treaty mention abortion and, as stated in the Resolution, "establishes or implies a right to abortion," the Committees routinely tell governments they must change their laws protecting the unborn.

The resolution cites five examples where the Committees criticized Ireland on abortion. In August 1999, the CEDAW Committee told Ireland "the Committee is concerned that, with very limited exceptions, abortion remains illegal in Ireland" and told the government to "facilitate a national dialogue on women's reproductive rights, including on the restrictive abortion laws." Six years later the Committee admitted that a national dialogue had taken place "with five separate referendums held on three separate occasions." Even so, the Committee again told Ireland again to facilitate a national dialogue on abortion.

In July 2000 the Human Rights Committee told Ireland that "the State should ensure that women are not compelled to continue with pregnancies where that is incompatible with (committee directives and decisions)."

UN Committees that oversee the implementation of UN treaties are made up of "experts" in each area and are generally drawn from academia, advocacy groups and non-governmental organizations. These Committees take it upon themselves to reinterpret the treaties and then ask governments to act on these changes. These statements by these committees are then used by radical lawyers on the ground to initiate law suits.

The Congressional Resolution "strongly rebukes the efforts" of the two committees, "calls into question the merit of using United States taxpayer-generated revenues to support them," and "urges countries with restrictions on the practice of abortion to remain steadfast in the time-honored traditions and verities of their cultures…"

David Quinn, president of the Dublin-based Iona Institute told the Friday Fax, "Congressman McCotter deserves congratulations for bringing this to public attention. The bullying behavior of the UN towards countries which have pro-life laws, such as
Ireland, is deplorable, unconscionable and needs to be brought to an end."

Given the political make-up of the US House of Representatives, it is unlikely that the resolution will pass. However, McCotter's staff told the Friday Fax they expect to continue with such efforts in the future.

Ireland is set to appear before the CEDAW committee in January.

Countries Emphasize Basic
Health Care, Not Reproductive
Health at UN MDG Meeting

By Samantha Singson

(NEW YORK – C-FAM) At United Nations headquarters this week, countries participated in a special high level event to discuss progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Declaring that MDG 5 to improve maternal health has seen the least progress of all the MDGs, participants emphasized good basic health care, not “universal access to reproductive health,” as the best ways of reducing maternal mortality.

During the discussions on the health-related MDGs, countries lamented that maternal mortality rates remained unacceptably high and focused their attention on the two proven methods of reducing maternal deaths – increasing skilled attendants at birth and improving emergency obstetric care.

In the lead-up to this week’s high level meeting, top UN officials like Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Obaid have stressed “universal access to reproductive health” to reduce maternal mortality, a theme she repeated at a separate side event co-sponsored by the governments of Chile, Finland and Tanzania. Ban Ki-Moon’s 2008 report on the MDGs laments that “universal access to reproductive health remains a distant dream in many countries.”

In 2000, when UN member states agreed to adopt eight broad, largely non-controversial Millennium Development Goals which address issues like eradicating poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, and reducing child mortality, “reproductive health” was deliberately left out. None of the MDGs makes any mention of “reproductive health” and neither does the Millennium Declaration upon which they are based.

When the MDGs were first negotiated, abortion advocates like International Planned Parenthood Federation launched aggressive campaigns to get a separate goal on “reproductive health.” Those efforts failed and advocates have attempted instead to attaching “reproductive health” to the existing MDGs.

Abortion advocates declared victory in 2005 when “universal access to reproductive health” appeared as the “target” in the annex of a report from then-Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Since then, despite consistent pushback from countries such as the United States that no new target on reproductive health has been approved by the members of the General Assembly, top UN officials have pushed the reproductive health target on member states as though it was an agreed target under the MDGs.

Pro-abortion groups have used the reproductive health target to promote the legalization and liberalization of abortion laws, claiming that countries now have an obligation to provide “safe and legal abortions” because of their commitments to reduce maternal mortality.

Concerns remain that the maternal health goal will be used to push abortion. While the word “abortion” was never mentioned at the special side event, the heads of state of both Chile and Finland spoke about access to “reproductive health services.” This contrasted with the statements of the Tanzanian president who stressed the need for basic obstetric health care.

The primary outcome of the high-level event will be a Secretary-General’s summary of the discussions from this week, as well as a compilation of the commitments made by states and members of civil society. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will also be asking states to agree to an MDG review summit scheduled for 2010.

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