Pro-Life Advocates Stand Their Ground at the United Nations

International   |   Raimundo Rojas   |   May 9, 2012   |   4:19PM   |   New York, NY

Founded in 1946, the Commission on Population and Development was charged by the United Nations to carry on the demographic research that had originated with the League of Nations and to report back to the General Assembly on population trends.

Within years, Commission members realized that there was a direct relationship between population and economic growth and development. As a result, the Commission’s mandate expanded beyond the collecting of data and is today a major purveyor of the international population agenda that affects much of the world’s population.

As have many other UN Commissions, the CPD has long prided itself in its ability to reach conclusions on critical matters before the General Assembly using consensus –the group decision-making process that seeks the consent of participants if not their outright approbation of the final outcomes to programs of action. At the 45th Commission on Population and Development (CPD), which wrapped up last week in New York City, the noble concept of decision-making by consensus was put to what might have been its harshest test to date.

The Commission’s theme for this year was Adolescents and Youth and predictably hordes of well-funded “progressive” young people from around the world descended on the UN. They were sponsored and brought in by the likes of such pro-abortion organizations as the International Planned Parenthood Federation, the United Nations Fund, IPAS, and several other champions of abortion and abortion “rights.”

Their extreme agenda was front and center at almost every turn – from panel discussions, to social events, and specially in the Commission document that would serve as an international population and development blueprint for years to come. The “Zero Document” –the working document that is presented to delegations and Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) as a starting point for negotiations–was front-loaded with such extreme pro-abortion and anti-family language that many long-term pro-life lobbyist agreed it was the worst they had ever seen.

We knew that if approved and adopted, the Commission’s actions would deal a near irrecoverable blow to the cause of life on an international scale. The proceedings were contentious from the very beginning, and we pro-lifers were outnumbered almost 100 to 1 – yet we were the first ones there in the morning and the last to leave at night. We provided crucial, critical, and timely information to many of the delegates who were valiantly trying to stop the onslaught.  But of equal importance, we provided them with much-needed moral support.

By the third day of negotiations the working document included over 100 references to “Sexual and Reproductive Health Care” rights. This is incredibly dangerous terminology some UN agencies as well as pro-abortion NGOs have erroneously and misguidedly tried to use to mean “abortion” in their attempts to legalize abortion in many parts of the world. Negotiations continued late into the night and early morning hours because Commission members became increasingly aware that the time for conclusion was near.

Those of us there heard from many delegations about the struggles taking place in the closed sessions but that many countries were mercifully and finally abeginning to understand the draconian reach of the plan within the outcome document. As the delegations continued the marathon debate behind close doors, the pro-abortion hordes were busy sending out texts and tweets and blog posting in an effort to steer the proceedings in their favor.

Scorched Earth Demands from IPPF

As moderators were trying to find language that was agreeable to most, IPPF was tweeting a “scorched-earth” policy and suggested “we will not compromise.”

Debate broke off at 2 AM on the last night of negotiations without anything near a consensus document. Rumors were flying that there might possibly not even be a final document or that an almost unprecedented vote may take place the next day – the last day of the Commission.

On the last afternoon of negotiations with next to no common ground, and the clock ticking away, Commission Chair, Ambassador Hasan Kleib of Indonsia presented the Commission and the NGOs a Chairman’s text. He had taken what he thought was the most agreeable language and reduced the document from nearly 50 pages down to six.



The Commission was then called to order and Ambassador Kleib pleaded with the delegates to accept the text without reopening debate on the document. He stated that “perfect is the enemy of good,” and begged for “maximum flexibility.” The Commission’s Vice Chair, Pius Wennubst of Switzerland, warned the delegates that “the spirit of compromise has to prevail.”

In a room filled to capacity with many NGOs spilling into the hall outside the chamber, member nations began asking to be recognized. One after the other they began praising the chairman but also taking him to task on the lack of “real” progressive language. They lamented that much of the original text had been removed. The remarks from the representatives of Cuba, Brazil, Belgium, Peru, Uruguay, South Africa and others were all met with enthusiastic applause from the pro-abortion NGOs.  These nations were  all bemoaning that not enough was included in the text to further promote abortion and sex education.

Then the representative of the Holy See was recognized, he gave an articulate, moving and impassioned speech about the document’s lack of protection for the unborn child and for the family in general. Most in the room held their breath until he finished, then a blink of silence, and the room exploded in thunderous and prolonged applause.

The liberal youths, their pro-abortion sponsors, and those member nations who were promoting the most extreme language ever seen in a UN document were stunned. After the applause a few other delegates were recognized and it became clear to the Chairman that there would have to be additional negotiations.

He asked that facilitators and key delegations meet in an adjoining room to try and alleviate the “difficult and charged atmosphere.” He suspended the meeting at 5:00 PM for what he hoped would be 30 minutes. Two and a half hours later he reconvened the session and offered minor technical changes to the document, which was then begrudgingly accepted by consensus.

Those of us in attendance received the new document which was almost identical to the chairman’s text that had been proposed  earlier in the day.

From a pro-life and pro-family point of view, the document was a far cry from the radical and excessive abortion laden document we had received on Thursday morning. Almost all of the most damaging language had been removed and next to no concessions had been made on abortion.

Malta, Guatemala, Hungary, Poland, Tunisia, Chile, the Russian Federation, all expressed that the document in no way could be construed as promoting abortion as a method of family planning. Many countries also expressed that the language in the document had to be read through the prism of national sovereignty and that a nation’s cultural and ethnic values could not be dismissed.  Just as many nations, although welcoming the document continued to express concern that much wasn’t accomplish to further the cause of “Sexual and Reproductive Health Care” rights.

One member of delegation tweeted was so dismayed that she expressed her frustration by tweeting her disbelief that the Holy See is allowed to participate at the United Nations.  The fact that they represent over 1 billion Catholics was lost on her.

Dominican Delegate Tweets her Disdain for the Holy See

In the end, pro-life and pro-family NGO’s in coalition with many brave and stalwart members of delegation stood our ground and fought back. And we survive to fight another day. Note: Raimundo Rojas is the director of Hispanic outreach for the National Right to Life Committee. He is a former president of Florida Right to Life and has presented the pro-life message to millions in Spanish-language media outlets. He represents NRLC at the United Nations as an NGO. Rojas was born in Santiago de las Vegas, Havana, Cuba and he and his family escaped to the United States in 1968.