by Steven Ertelt
July 8, 2005
New York, NY (LifeNews.com) — The Bush administration has sent a letter to leading United Nations officials protesting the exclusion of pro-life groups at a recent meeting discussing an upcoming population conference that could have an effect on abortion. UN officials handpicked the groups to participate in the meeting and pro-life organizations that normally participate were excluded.
Acting U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson crafted a letter to Jean Ping, President of the 59th UN General Assembly expressing concern and calling for clarification of the selection criteria for groups participating in future meetings.
Douglas Clark, an attorney and International Policy Director for United Families International, said the letter helps the situation. He said his own organization would also send a letter to UN officials about the situation.
"To exclude pro-life non-governmental organizations from the discussion in such a
momentous matter … and to do so in a process that pretends to be evenhanded, is deceptive and unacceptable," Clark said.
At the end of last month, hundreds of organizations met at the United Nations for discussions with the General Assembly about the upcoming Millennium Summit +5 population conference. Pro-life groups hoped to attend the meeting, which could affect the international status of abortion, but were shut out by UN officials.
A handpicked panel of UN officials signed off on the groups that could participate in the talks and prevented every leading pro-life group that lobbies there, including the National Right to Life Committee and the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute.
Jeanne Head, NRLC’s representative at the UN, told LifeNews.com that the talks were sponsored by Canada, Finland and Norway, which back legal abortion. She said leaders of the panel discussion "obviously were determined to exclude any dissent from the numerous pro-life and pro-family organizations, including NRLC, who applied to participate."
UN officials billed the meetings as "informal interactive hearings" with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which isn’t normally how the UN conducts its business. Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette described the new talks as a "significant new step in the way the United Nations relates to civil society."
"It certainly was not a ‘significant new step’ forward in the way the United Nations relates to civil society as it was described," Head told LifeNews.com. "They were only masquerading as an official UN sponsored hearing."
Pro-life organizations has suspected for years that UN officials have been trying to come up with a method of shutting them out of the discussion process, and they think the UN has succeeded.
According to C-FAM, Jean Ping of Gabon, President of the General Assembly, chose the groups that could participate in the talks along with his staff and ten groups, including the pro-abortion Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO) and the International Planned Parenthood Federation.