Pro-Abortion Document Guides UN Youth Conference Plans

International   |   Lauren Funk   |   Feb 17, 2011   |   5:01PM   |   New York, NY

The same controversial agenda that guided the chaotic youth conference last summer in Leon, Mexico will inspire the UN’s World Youth Conference, which is now scheduled for this July at UN Headquarters in New York City.

This agenda, laid out in the World Program of Action for Youth (WPAY), promotes youth autonomy and grants them new “rights”.  One UN legal expert called the document a “Cairo for youth,” since it calls on states to assign high priority to providing sexual and reproductive health services, sexual education outside the purview of the parents, and curriculum reforms to eradicate the perpetuation of “traditional female roles.”

The document is not new. The General Assembly first accepted it in 1995.  Upon its adoption a diverse group of countries from Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and South America entered formal reservations, claiming the document disrespected their cultures, traditions, and beliefs about youth and sexuality.

In the same way that the Cairo Conference has become the reference point and driving force behind socially and sexually radical policies at the UN, the WPAY will be the framework for countries who want to further radicalize youth policies at the UN – including the organizers of the UN World Youth Conference.

After months of dithering and dramatics by delegations, last week the General Assembly finally began negotiations on a draft resolution for the conference.  While the logistical negotiations are still finishing up this week, a UN delegate told the Friday Fax that the conference is going to be a two-day event, which will include a plenary meeting of the General Assembly and roundtable discussions, and produce an action-oriented outcome document.  Delegates expect that WPAY will heavily influence the outcome document, since the draft resolution sets up WPAY as the focus of the conference activities.

In negotiations this week, governments were reminded they had filed strong reservations to the document back in 1995 at which point they began to complain about  referencing the old document in the new one. Also this week, there was a push to include more “civil society voices” for the UN youth conference.  The European Union suggested expanding NGO presence, opening the conference not only to organizations accredited with ECOSOC, but to any NGO that works with youth.  

Delegates are wary of the free, unchecked participation of NGOs in this manner, particularly after last summer’s debacle during the unofficial World Youth Conference in Leon, Mexico.  The input of hundreds of youth NGO delegates, many of whom were sponsored by the UN Population Fund, produced a highly controversial statement that called for access to safe abortion and contraceptives and an end to discrimination based on sexual preference, sexual identity, or sexual orientation.  A similar approach to NGO participation at this summer’s conference could result in a comparable declaration.

The final logistics for the UN World Youth Conference should be decided by the UN General Assembly next week. Note: Lauren Funk 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.