New York, NY (CFAM) — The UN Secretary General told nations they must provide abortions to women raped in refugee camps in Syria, Iraq, and Sudan, even though the Security Council – his boss – has repeatedly rejected such a notion.
Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said his assertion is “in line with” a resolution the Security Council adopted last year that did not mention abortion. In fact, the Council expressly rejected a proposal by France to include it. Ban Ki-moon went so far as to say the resolution, and another released earlier in 2013, represented “remarkable achievements” at the “normative level.”
The comments came in a progress report the secretary-general is required to provide regularly to the Council, tracking progress made on its “women, peace, and security” agenda that it adopted in 2000. Two-thirds of the Council’s 47 resolutions last year referenced the agenda, mostly pertaining to sexual violence and emphasizing ending impunity.
The Secretary-general’s comments are part of an ongoing dispute between nations and the UN bureaucracy on how best to end rape and sexual violence in conflict. Like the work of the Council, major political initiatives in the last few years have emphasized ending impunity for perpetrators and making reparations to survivors of violence. All have excluded abortion. UN staff, however, have promoted a feminist agenda which views deconstructing traditional social relationships and abortion rights as necessary steps to ending discrimination and violence.
The secretary-general’s report cites as “authoritative guidance” a recent recommendation by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, which promotes abortion rights in conflict situations regardless of local laws. But the committee does not have authority to interpret the treaty in ways that create new obligations on nations. Nations have consistently rejected the committee’s view that abortion rights are part of the treaty.
Likewise, Ban Ki-moon cited a non-binding comment by the CEDAW committee when he issued a controversial guidance note to UN member States last June telling them to liberalize their abortion laws to ensure “non-repetition” of rape. The note did not explain how eliminating legal protection for unborn children would stop sexual violence or make reparations to victims.
Ban’s latest report is even bolder than his June note. It calls upon “all actors to support improved access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services in conflict-affected settings. This must include . . . termination of pregnancies for survivors of conflict-related rape.”
The report said the UN Population Fund was in 28 conflict-affected areas last year and distributed “sexual and reproductive health services” to 67,000 Syrian refugee women in Jordan. While the report did not specify what services were provided, the UN Population Fund has included abortion-related commodities and services in the past.
More than 50 million people were forcibly displaced in 2013 and more than half of the world’s refugees originate from Afghanistan, Somalia and the Syrian Arab Republic.
The Secretary General’s report seeks to “put forward recommendations for consideration” by the Council, UN Member States, and regional organizations. It was compiled with input from UN agencies, some member states, and UN field offices.
LifeNews.com Note: Susan Yoshihara writes for the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. This article originally appeared in the pro-life group’s Friday Fax publication and is used with permission.