While most pro-life people focus on battles in their own nations or hometowns, a monumental battle over abortion is taking place at the United Nations almost every year — and 2012 was no different.
The UN — in New York City or locations in Europe — may seem far away from most people and the pro-life battles are often remote, difficult to understand and involve obscure and complex documents most people have never heard of, yet can comprehend. Yet these documents have the potential to pressure, require or even force pro-life nations to legalize abortion or to expand legalized abortion further.
Stefano Gennarini, J.D., a pro-life attorney who represents the pro-life group CFAM as it lobbies the United Nations on pro-life issues, highlights a few of the pro-life victories at the UN this year. Although the United Nations did attempt to push abortion on other nations this year, pro-life advocates generally kept those efforts in check.
The United Nations is not a place where you expect human life and dignity, or the natural family to be valued. But on rare occasions life and family are defended at the United Nations. Below are four such instances from the past year.
Touted as the most important UN conference ever by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the long awaited UN Conference on Sustainable Development proved a bitter disappointment for environmentalists who were far from reassured that the world’s continuing dependence on fossil fuels is stronger than the green agenda. Environmentalists were not the only ones disappointed. Abortion advocates and population control groups were left fuming after UN member states rejected language linking sexual and reproductive health to population control, and the controversial term “reproductive rights” because of its close association with abortion on-demand, from the final outcome document of the conference. C-FAM lobbied UN delegations throughout the year and was in Brazil during the conference exposing the lies of the population control movement.
Despite continued resistance from European nations and the United States, as well as insistent protests from homosexual rights groups, the Russians led a broad coalition of UN member states in passing a Human Rights Council resolution that affirms the positive links between traditional moral values and human rights. The resolution, echoes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in recognizing the “inherent dignity and worth” of all human beings. The third of its kind since 2009, the resolution is well on its way to becoming a permanent feature of human rights dialogue at the United Nations. Life and family advocates hope it will be a vehicle for nations to affirm the positive role of the family in society, as well as to recognize the right to life of children in the womb.
In December, the US Senate refused to ratify a controversial UN treaty that fails to provide adequate assurances for US sovereignty, parental rights, as well as the right to life of the unborn. The senate rejected the treaty even though its proponents, among whom were several disability groups, had been mislead into believing that while the treaty would be binding on other nations it would not straightjacket US citizens and their legislators. Following requests for information on the disabilities treaty, C-FAM advised senators that the more prudent course of action would be to hold out on ratifying the treaty.
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For the last twenty years UN treaty bodies have conducted their business of reviewing compliance with UN human rights treaties without oversight. This independence has been used as a license to promote controversial social agendas that include abortion and homosexual rights, leading to fears that the treaty bodies have been captured by special interest groups and are no longer independent. UN member states have decided enough is enough and have launched a reform process through the UN General Assembly. C-FAM welcomed this new initiative and is supporting the inter-governmental process, calling the attention of UN member states to the limited mandate of treaty bodies.