Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Major clash on abortion and sexual rights at UN conference

The 47th session of Commission on Population and Development (CPD 47) held at UN headquarters in New York last week was a controversial process from start to finish

This year’s CPD has to be viewed through the lens the original Cairo Conference on Population and Development (also known as the ICPD or Cairo Programme), during which an uneasy balance was reached between the radical western sexual rights agenda and the more generally accepted societal norms for life and family issues, but that did not stop the anti life brigade from endeavouring to implement their complete agenda of sexual and reproductive rights, which includes among other things, abortion on demand, comprehensive sexuality education for children and adolescents and acceptance of every form of sexual practice including sexual orientation and gender identity.

Despite the fact that it had been agreed during a previous session there would not be a negotiated outcome document this year nevertheless it transpired that there would after all be a document but this would be procedural only. In the final analysis the draft document produced for the purposes of commencing negotiations was is fact much more than a procedural text and included controversial paragraphs which if accepted would have expanded the scope of the original Cairo agreement despite the fact that it was purported to be simply, an ‘Assessment of the status of Implementaion of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development.’

The ugly, anti life agenda was all too evident during the negotiations.  The gloves were off and a deadly war was waged against the unborn, marriage, children and the family.

In what could be termed a marathon session even for the UN, the attempt to expand the carefully crafted Cairo Platform language to include sexual rights came to an end when, in the early hours of Saturday morning, it finally dawned on the anti-life brigade that they would not succeed this time in obtaining their cherished pro-abortion and sexual rights language in the CPD outcome document. The tactic of stringing out the negotiations in order to tire out ones opponents and get them to agree controversial issues, simply to bring matters to a conclusion failed miserably and the Holy See, the African Union member states and some others bravely held the line to the end.

The final statement in explanation position made by the Holy See Negotiator the Rev. Fr Justin Wiley at 7am on Saturday morning is reprinted below.
Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations 
Statement in Explanation of Position on the Resolution

“Assessment of the Status of Implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development”

47th session of the Commission on Population and Development
of the United Nations Economic and Social Council
New York, 12 April 2014
Mr. Chairman,
My delegation is convinced that only a truly human-centered approach to development can function as the authentic starting point for policy on population and development. Through its unparallelled global network of institutions, the Holy See unceasingly manifests its commitment to serving the poorest and most vulnerable populations in working to achieve their integral human development. This includes physical, social, and spiritual development – keeping the focus on those most essential factors for development, including: quality and affordable education and health care, access to food and nutrition, water and sanitation, the rights of migrants, as well as policies that support the family as the fundamental and most basic contributors of this development.
My delegation acknowledges with thanks your efforts and those of your bureau and the Secretariat for all the hard work during this Commission. The resolution just adopted contains many helpful contributions for advancing integral human development, and we are appreciative to you for including quite a number of our proposals. However, as already expressed on several occasions by many delegations, including my own, the balance of this resolution remains heavily skewed towards peculiar interests of certain developed countries, as evidenced by undue emphasis on selected rights over the real development priorities consistently elaborated by major regional groups, particularly those from developing regions.
I refer in particular to the heavy focus on sexual or reproductive mores. In this regard, the Holy See requests that its reservations on the following paragraphs be formally entered into the record of this meeting: PP16, OP9 and 9bis, OP10 and OP11.
With reference to “sexual and reproductive health”, so-called “reproductive rights,” “family planning” and other language on which the Holy See has registered reservations at Cairo, we reiterate these reservations as set out more fully in the Report of the ICPD. In particular, the ICPD rejects recourse to abortion for family planning, denies that it creates any new rights in this regard and recognizes that this is a matter subject to national legislation. Abortion is always gravely illicit and can never be called safe for the child who is killed or the mother who is brutalized. Yesterday Pope Francis publicly condemned yet again what he calls this “unspeakable crime” in the following terms: “[F]rom the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care.” “Therefore,” the Pope pleaded, “it is necessary to reaffirm our strongest opposition to any direct offence against life, especially ... the unborn child in its mother's womb.”
With respect to so-called “education” or “counselling” on “sexuality”, we reaffirm the “primary responsibility” and the “prior rights” of parents, including their right to religious freedom, when it comes to the education and upbringing of their children, as enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which we are a State Party.
By “gender” my delegation understands to mean “male or female” only, and to have no meaning other than the customary and general usage of the term.
We also were disappointment by the methods of work that led to this resolution. What was promised to be a concise, procedural approach without renegotiation of the issues ballooned into a partisan substantive jamboree during a week in which very little time was set aside for actual multilateral negotiations. We regret that the series of general comments for which we were solicited never matured into a full and robust negotiation of a true compilation text. We share the concerns expressed by the distinguished delegate from Bangladesh and others regarding the transparency and inclusivity of this final session. As a final procedural irregularity, you have inexplicably preferred to give me the floor next to last, despite the fact that requested the floor in third place, if I am not mistaken (it might have been second place). This manner of proceeding should not serve as a precedent for future Commissions.
We ask that the text of this statement be included in the official records of this meeting.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.