"OFF THE RECORD!"
UNITED NATIONS (UN)
- Enquiry about High Commissioner's Office
- Mary Robinson leads Ethical Globalization Initiative (EGI) in NY (link to website)
- Mary Robinson on Abortion in Ireland
- Attempt to push through Agenda fails (Also commentary on UN HIV/Aids Guidelines)
- UN HIV/Aids Guidelines Piot/Robinson 1998 (link only to UN site)
- HIV/Aids conference, June 2001
- How UN Conventions on Women's and Children's Rights Undermine Family, Religion, and Sovereignty (Heritage Foundation, opinion)
- International Criminal Court (ICC)
- The UN Human Rights Commission budget
- UN Reports - the Common Denominator
- Australian Government withdraws from UN Treaty Monitoring System
Enquiry about High Commissioner's Office1. Request:
On 29 Aug 2002, IMR sent the following request for information to Mr Kofi Annan, Secretary General, United Nations, New York:
"High Commissioner for Human Rights
"I understand Mrs Robinson retires as High Commissioner for Human Rights on 11 September next.
"I also understand that 6 of the last 7 reports on Ireland favoured,- or condoned, the ending of the life of the unborn child. I also understand that support for the family based on marriage was all but non-existent in these reports.
"In the light of this, and of the claim made in Mrs Robinson's Authorised Biography at page 292, that "the job budget of $22.5 million from the UN, and up to $50 million which comes from voluntary sources", I would like to know:
"1. What proportion of Mrs Robinson's total budget was spent on the promotion of the right to life, and of the family based on marriage, both of which are Human Rights?2. Response:
"2. How was public accountability achieved in the case of funds "from voluntary sources"?"
An undated reply was received from Markus Scmidt, Secretary of the Human Rights Committee, High Commissionner for Human Rights, Palais des Nations CH-1222, Geneve 10, Switzerland, circa 6 February 2003, which gave the following information:
1. "After careful consideration of the contents of your petition (communication/complaint) ... the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is not in a position to assist you in the matter you raise .."
2. On the back of the letter are printed 13 reasons, with the intention that one of them would be ticked. None of them was marked.
3. Information on petitions on human rights violations could be obtained from a given website.
1. IMR's request was sent to the Secretary General of the United Nations, New York, not to the Secretary of the Human Rights Committee, Geneva.
2. The request was seeking essential information on the running of the Department. It was not a"petition" in any form.
3. This is the response to a citizen in respect of a United Nations department which calls elected representatives to account, summonses them to attend their committee of "experts", and issues "reports" of their "findings". These "findings" have the status of established fact.
There may, indeed, be a case for elected representatives to be called to account, and to give enhanced status to "volutary", ie unaccounntable, bodies. These are cases where elected representatives have manifestly failed in their duties to their electors, and they are, possibly, hiding behind such votes.
In the view of IMR, such cases are relatively rare, and the United Nations has seriously over-stepped the mark. In many cases, the UN is being "used". The "experts" are unelected, the Human Rights Commission (in this case) is unelected, the members of the UN are unelected, and the Secretary General is unelected.
In the case of the Human Rights Commission, headed by a "High" Commissioner, (until recently (Mrs) Mary Robinson), elected representatives are summmoned to Geneva to answer alleged "human rights" abuses. These include "Children's Rights", "Civil and Political Rights", "Economic, Social and Cultural Rights", "Rights" under HIV/AIDS, and anything else which may be deemed a "right".
All this brings into question of how it is decided and who decides what is, and is not, a "human right".
Where does the "Right" to information about the running of the Department (such as appeared at the last paragraph of the Request, above) fit in?
And where do responsibilities fit in?
13 February 2003
Mary Robinson on Abortion in Ireland
Verbatim extract from interview between
Ms Mary Robinson, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Olivia O'Leary on Radio 1, 15 January 2002:
(Extract preceded by discussion of Ms Robinson's involvement in the Airey case)
Q1: Olivia O'Leary: But there were lots of judges, well, some judges and some lawyers who thought that what you were doing was interfering really in the Irish legal system. The former High Court judge, Mr Justice Rory O'Hanlon said that any Irish government worth its salt would have refused to give effect to two of your European Court victories: the Norris judgement decriminalizing homosexuality and the judgement legalising abortion information.
Were you conscious that there was a certain resentment of what you were doing?
A1: Mary Robinson: Yes, I was conscious, in that sense, but also it was difficult to get the Supreme Court to take on board, as much as I felt they should, the implications of European Court decisions.
Q2: OO'L: You didn't have to implement what the European Court in Strasbourg said, but politically it was actually usually required that you do so.
A2: MR: Yes, it was a kind of subtle line: Irish law applied a dual approach, so that even though Ireland ratified the Convention, it didn't become directly part of internal law. And then we had the provisions of the European Union law which, under European Union law accepted by Ireland, were directly applicable, and the courts were beginning to deal with this, but in my view, were not understanding the full implications and, that was because there were resistances to accepting values as part of law from the outside.
Q3: OO'L: Well, it brings up, I suppose, individual human rights versus what national legislation says.
So, I mean, to take an issue for instance, like the right to abortion for women. Is that a right that overrides national legislation?
A3: MR: No, I don't think so. Itís a very complex area and I'm conscious that it's an area that will be potentially considered in another referendum here, so obviously I don't want to speak about something that is currently being discussed domestically.
Its a very difficult area to encapsulate either under international law, or under domestic law, because there is a need to focus on the specifics of a right of women to their own health, and human security basically, so there's the life of the mother, and that is open to interpretation as to what that entails, and we have the Irish jurisprudence on that.
Other courts have ruled in a way that would probably not be acceptable here in Ireland. So how do you determine what precisely the right would be, but my guiding principle I think would be the need to bear in mind the right to an informed decision in relation to the woman's basic health and emotional, physical, capacity to have a child.
Q4: OO'L: But do you still think that it's extraordinary that at this stage we're still in the wars over this issue when almost every other European country would provide abortion?
A4: MR: I was always saddened by the fact that we were not really addressing the reality of the problem. And I said this many times in the Irish Senate that it would be possible to bring down the abortion rate if we really cared enough about the reality of women's lives, if we wanted to know what the pressures were on women, and how little choice some women had and that it's a painful, secret decision, under terrible pressure and terrible guilt and shame for many women, and if there was more attention to that, then women would feel they had more real choice and were respected in the choice that they were making, as opposed to acting in secret, even sometimes from husbands or partners or family, and you know, borrowing the money from a friend, and going on the boat, or going on the plane. It's very sad that we still have not matured to really dealing with an extraordinary complex, difficult, but ultimately woman's decision for herself and her context of her life.
Q5: OO'L: But, I mean, will we ever deal with it unless we give women the choice of having an abortion here in Ireland?
A5: MR: I think that that's something that will have to be faced up to.
Q6: OO'L: That we should do it?
A6: MR: Well, itís a matter for the Irish people to see that there is a reality, and I'm not going to come down on a decision that will be discussed very actively here over the coming months.
End of extract.
(Interview continues with discussion of Ms Robinson's career.)
(As far as we are aware, the foregoing interview has not appeared in the print media -Ed)
See also report on HIV/Aids Guidelines
16 April 2002, 12 May 2002
Tape of broadcast and transcript in possession of IMR
4 December 2002
Under cover of HIV/Aids,attempt to push through Agenda fails:Extracts from, and comments on proposed Guidelines, issued by Peter Piot and Mary Robinson in 1998.
(see also PRO-FAMILY GROUPS CLAIM VICTORY ON UN AIDS DECLARATION)1. The Guidelines (previously at this address) were published by the United Nations, (HR/PB/98/1). The document contains guidelines adopted at a conference organised by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Joint UN Programme on HIV/Aids at Geneva in September 1996. The publication date is given as 1998.
These developments had followed from a request from the then Commission on Human Rights, in April 1996, to the then UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, to continue his efforts towards the elaboration of guidelines on "promoting and protecting respect for human rights in the context of HIV/Aids.
The printed version of the Guidelines (but not the internet version), dated 1998, carries a foreword which is signed jointly by Peter Piot, Executive Director, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids, and Mary Robinson, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
2. The question of whether the Guidelines are concerned with combatting HIV/Aids or with promoting Human Rights, either in the context of HIV/Aids or generally, or with promoting the taking of human life, is a crucial one.
Paragraph 15 (b) of the Summary (p.10) states "that public health interests do not conflict with human rights", uncontrovertial, until it elaborates:"On the contrary, it has been recognized that when human rights are protected, fewer people become infected and those living with HIV/Aids and their families can better cope with HIV/Aids."The entire Guidelines rest or fall on the accuracy or othewise of this statement. And what do we mean by "Human Rights"?1. The Guidelines appear not to have surfaced until a HIV/Aids conference in New York in July.
UN Conference in July 2001
The EU delegation (which included Ireland) mounted an attempt to adopt these Guidelines as a source for policy initiatives against AIDS. This was supported by Canada and opposed by the US, most Islamic countries and the Holy See.
2. As will be seen, there is much in these Guidelines that is in conflict with the Irish Constitution. So how did it come about that we were assisting in pressing this document, whatever its other merits, on the rest of the world?(To be discussed separately, later)"Guideline 4: Criminal laws and correctional systems
Selected extracts from Guidelines:
(c) With regard to adult sex work that involves no victimization, criminal law should be reviewed wih the aim of decriminalizing, then legally regulating occupational health and safety conditions to protect sex workers and their clients, including support for safe sex during sex work.....
(d) ...Criminal law should be reviewed to consider:- The authorization or legalization and promotion of needle and syringe exchange programmes:"Guideline 5: Anti-discrimination; and protective laws
- The repeal of laws criminalizing the possession, distribution and dispensing of needles and syringes."
(f) ... Laws should also be enacted to ensure women's reproductive and sexual rights, including the right of independent access to repoductive and STD health information and services and means of contraception, ("birth control", per internet version) including safe and legal abortion and the freedom to choose among these, ...
(g) .. to reduce violations against children... Such laws should provide for children's access to HIV-related information, education and means of prevention inside and outside school, govern children's access to voluntary testing with consent by the child, in line with the evolving capacities of the child, or by the parent or appointed guardian, as appropriate,...
(h) Anti-discrimination and protective laws should be enacted to reduce human rights violations against men having sex with men, including in the context of HIV/Aids, in order, inter alia, to reduce the vulnerability of men who have sex with men to infection by HIV and to the impact of HIV/Aids. These measures should include providing penalties for vilification of people who engage in same-sex relationships, giving legal recognition to same-sex marriages and/or relationships and governing such relationships with consistent property, divorce and inheritance provisions. The age of consent to sex and marriage should be consistent for heterosexual and homosexual relationships. Laws and police practices relating to assault against men who have sex with men should be reviewed to ensure that adequate legal protection is given in these situations.
(j) Public health, criminal and anti-discrimination legislation should prohibit mandatory HIV-testing of targeted groups, including vulnerable groups."
"Guideline 6: Regulation of goods, services and information
(a) ...a widespread provision of informaiton about HIV/Aids through the mass media. This information should be aimed at the general public, as well as at various vulnerable groups that may have difficulty in accessing such information. HIV/Aids information should be effective for its designated audience and not be inappropriately subject to censorship or other broadcasting standards.
(c) Legal quality contol of condoms should be enforced..."
"Commentary on Guidelines 3 to 7
35. ... the role of law in the response to HIV/Aids may also be overemphasized and provide a vehicle for coercive and abusive policies. Although law may have an educative and normative role and may provide an important supportive frameqork for human rights protection and HIV/Aids programmes, it cannot be relied upon as the only means by which to educate, change attitudes, achieve behavioural change or protect people's rights. Guidelines 3 to 7 above are, therefore, meant to encourage the enactment of meaningful and positive legislation, ...
36. ... It is recognized that some of the recommendations for law and law reform, particularly those concerning the status of women, drug use, sex work and the status of men having sex with men, might be conroversial in particular national, cultural and religious contexts. However, these Guidelines are recommendations to States: they are based on existing international human rights standards* and designed to achieve a pragmatic approach to public health goals relative to HIV/Aids." *(Ed: This would be highly questionable. For instance, no existing "international human rights standard" endorses abortion.)
"Guideline 8: Women, Children and other vulnerable groups
(g) ... access of children and adolescents to adequate health information and education, .... Such information should take into account the rights of the child to access to information, privacy, confidentiality, respect and informed consent and means of prevention, as well as the responsibilities, rights and duties of parents.
(h) States should ensure that children and adolescents have adequate access to confidential sexual and reproductive health services, including HIV/Aids information, counselling, testing and prevention measures such as condoms, ... The provision of these services to children/adolescents should relfect the appropriate balance between the rights of the child/adolescent to be involved in decision-making according to his or her evolving capabliities and the rights and duties of parents/guardians ... "
PLEASE SEE FULL TEXT OF GUIDELINES(UN site)
Ed: Note that all references to the Guidelines (above) were removed from the UN Declaration on HIV/Aids passed in July 2001 at New York.
Ed: It is hard to think of this occasion as anything other than a scandalous expoitation of human misery.
6 March 2004:
See Guidelines 2 for an updated version (c. 2001) of the above Guidelines, issued by Mary Robinson's successor as UNHCHR.
Mary Robinson appeared at a meeting on HIV/Aids at Dublin Castle on 23/24 February 2004. She was in company of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Bob Geldof, Carol Belamy, Irish Government and EU Ministers, etc. The general public was not adfmitted.
29 September 2001, 6 March 2004
from c-fam pro-family group, New York:
PRO-FAMILY GROUPS CLAIM VICTORY ON UN AIDS DECLARATION
Pro-family delegations declared victory today on the wording of the UN Draft Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS, claiming that delegations from the European Union and Canada failed in their efforts to use the document to impose what some describe as a gay-rights agenda -- including gay marriage -- on the rest of the world. According to one delegate, "What the UN intended to be a noble and good document, a document meant to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS, these delegations attempted to turn into a gay rights document. But, through an amazing turn of events, the whole gay rights agenda was unsuccessful."
A number of delegations were pleased that the category of 'men having sex with men' was deleted from a list of 'vulnerable groups' that require special protection from HIV/AIDS, such as babies at risk of infection from breast milk. One delegate said that some countries sought to link homosexual men with such passive victims of HIV/AIDS in order to insulate homosexual men from criticism, and to blur the fact that homosexual men choose to engage in risky sexual behavior. "Aren't homosexual men in any way responsible for the spread of the disease?" wondered a delegate from the Holy See. "Aren't they morally accountable in a way in which babies are not?"
The delegate stated that this language shows the true ideological
motivation of some countries; if the homosexual agenda conflicts with the goal of slowing the spread of HIV/AIDS, the homosexual agenda will win out. Furthermore, the Holy See delegate contends that the AIDS crisis has been used this week as an excuse to invent new rights for homosexuals, such as same-sex marriage. "They tell us that, because of AIDS, we have to accept gay marriage. But I simply don't see the logic of how the legalization of gay marriage will stop the spread of the epidemic."
The US and some Islamic countries shared the Holy See's objections to the draft language. In fact, the US delegation managed to insert an acknowledgment that 'risky and unsafe behavior' actually contributes to the spread of AIDS. The US also won inclusion of language about the effectiveness of sexual abstinence and fidelity, terms usually greeted with ridicule by some other countries.
In the final days, the conference almost failed to reach consensus
because of a proposal sponsored by the EU and Canada. These countries argued that the declaration should refer to a little-known UN document on human rights, titled the "United Nations International Guidelines on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights." When other countries actually examined these guidelines, they discovered that they would be expected to:
Many delegations saw this an attempt to advance a radical agenda by stealth, since very few countries would agree to such proposals if they were mentioned explicitly. Because of the insistence of the US and a number of Islamic countries, the reference to these guidelines will not appear in the final declaration.
- legalize gay marriage,
- promote abortion for women and girls,
- provide wide-ranging reproductive services to children without their parents consent,
- legalize prostitution,
- and transform their legal systems.
- The document also proposed legal sanctions against anyone guilty of 'villification' of same-sex relationships.
Copyright - C-FAM (Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute).
Permission granted for unlimited use. Credit required.
Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute
866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 427
New York, New York 10017
Phone: (212) 754-5948 Fax: (212) 754-9291
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.c-fam.org
June 29, 2001
Volume 4, Number 28
2 July 2001
The UN Human Rights Commission budgetComment:
According to Paul Cullen (Irish Times, 21 March 2001), the budget for the UNHCR in 2000 was £15m, only 2 percent of the overall UN budget. An appeal for funds brought in a further £29m. In her biography, Mary Robinson refers to a similar figure coming from voluntary sources.
These appeals are common to many UN departments. The voluntary sources can be foundations, such as the Ford Foundation, (link1, link2) the Rockefeller Foundation, the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust (link 1, link 2) the Gulbenkian Foundation, etc, governments (providing funding outside of the UN system), or individuals.
The word "funding" is used in the broadest sense, and includes providing staff gratis or subsidised.
With such a major part of the total budget coming from these private sources, it raises the question as to how the public can be assured, throughout all UN activities, that no private agenda is being pursued for these contributions.
Revised 2 July 2001
CEDAW...?Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW):
Ireland. 01/07/99. A/54/38, extract from paras.161-201.
7?25 June 1999
Principal areas of concern and recommendations
180. The Committee notes that although Ireland is a secular State, the influence of the Church is strongly felt not only in attitudes and stereotypes but also in official State policy. In particular, women's right to health, including reproductive health, is compromised by this influence. The Committee notes that Ireland did not enter a reservation to article 12 upon ratification of the Convention. The Committee recommends implementation of this article in full.
181. The Committee expresses its concern that, notwithstanding recent favourable economic growth, which has led to women's labour force participation reaching 40 per cent, there is a considerable age gap in that participation, with almost no women over the age of 50 years in paid employment. It is also concerned that women hold the majority of part-time jobs and earn less than men, and that little progress is being made in assessing and valuing work of comparable value.
182. The Committee urges the Government to ensure that legislation and policies create the structural and systemic framework that will lead to women's long-term participation in the labour force on a basis of equality with men. In particular, the Committee urges the Government to take further measures to reduce the pay gap in women's earnings, taking into account developments that have refined the concepts of equal pay for work of comparable value, and to assess the impact of cultural stereotypes and women's reproductive responsibilities on the continuing pay gap.
183. While welcoming the Government's recent focus on developing and adopting family-friendly, childcare and parental leave policies to facilitate women's participation in the labour market, the Committee expresses its concern that these policies continue to place primary responsibility for family work and childcare on women, rather than emphasizing the shared responsibility of men and women.
184. The Committee urges the Government to monitor and review its work and family life policies and legislation so as to ensure that they create incentives and opportunities for women and men to share, equally, paid work outside the home and unpaid family work. In particular, the Committee recommends that such regulations and policies be accompanied by awareness-raising and educational efforts aimed at changing attitudes concerning women's traditional roles and responsibilities for child and family care. It also recommends that parental leave regulations be assessed with a view to providing for paid parental leave so as to create an incentive for men to take advantage of their legal entitlements.
185. While noting with appreciation the existence of a Plan for Women's Health, 1997-1999, and the establishment of a Women's Health Council, as well as the wide availability of various programmes to improve women's health, the Committee is concerned that, with very limited exceptions, abortion remains illegal in Ireland. Women who wish to terminate their pregnancies need to travel abroad. This creates hardship for vulnerable groups, such as female asylum seekers who cannot leave the territory of the State.
186. The Committee urges the Government to facilitate a national dialogue on women's reproductive rights, including on the restrictive abortion laws. It also urges the Government to further improve family planning services and the availability of contraception, including for teenagers and young adults. It also urges the Government to promote the use of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.
187. Noting that a National Steering Committee on Violence against Women has been established to develop a national strategy to this issue, the Committee is concerned that no comprehensive and multidimensional strategy has yet been adopted to prevent and eliminate violence against women.
188. The Committee requests the inclusion in the next report of comprehensive statistical information on the types and frequency of violence against women, including domestic violence, the number of complaints brought by women and the results of investigations. The Committee also requests detailed information on sexual harassment against women in the workplace, and on means of redress available to and used by women and the results thereof.
189. The Committee notes with concern that women continue to be under-represented in public and political life, and that structural and attitudinal reasons, including limiting cultural and social values, difficulties in reconciling family life, paid employment and political tasks, have been identified among the reasons for this low representation.
For full text of above report, see: http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/A.54.38,+paras.161-201.En?OpenDocument
For full text of Covenant, see: gopher://gopher.un.org:70/00/ga/cedaw/convention
22 December 2000
- the Common Denominator1. July 2000: Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR):
One finds that many UN documents proclaiming a new step forward in the quest for justice commence by calling to mind the noble aims set out in the Preamble to the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
"Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,.."
This is, of course, commendable.
What is curious is that the next line of the Preamble is so rarely quoted:
"Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind.."
Perhaps there is a concern about stirring the ghosts of the past.
Because, far from defending those with no voice, it is disturbing to realise that in five of the six last reports on Ireland, we are put under pressure to carry out acts no less barbarous than those the UN had been set up to avert:
Amongst the Committee's principal subjects of concern are "...that the circumstances in which women may lawfully obtain an abortion are restricted to when the life of the mother is in danger and do not include, for example, situations where the preganancy is the result of rape."2. January 2000: Freedom of Expression (CCPR):"The Special Rapparteur believes ... there should not be any restriction on when and what kind of information regarding abortion is available to be accessed."
3. June 1999: Covenant on Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW):"..the Committee is concerned that, with very limited exceptions, abortion remains illegal in Ireland. Women who wish to terminate their pregnancies need to travel abroad. This creates hardship for vulnerable groups, such as female asylum seekers who cannot leave the territory of the State."
4. May 1999: Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESC):No reference to abortion found.
(Subject to verification of one session available only in French 5 May 99 am)
5. January 1998: Convention on the Rights of the Child:"Mrs Karp (Committee expert): ...on the question of abortion, she asked what happened if the parents of a very young girl opposed abortion whereas the girl herself did not wish to have her child."6. July 1993: Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR):
"Ms O'Donnell (Ireland): ... explained that the criteria applied to women and adolescents wishing to terminate a pregnancy were the same ... When a pregnant adolescent under the care of the Health Board wanted an abortion, the decision in the matter was taken by the court ... The situation was more complicated if the adolescent was in her parents' care."
"With respect to ... the right to access to information, the Committee notes with concern that the exercise of those rights is unduly restricted under present laws concerning ... information on abortion."(Emphasis added)
The foregoing, then, are indicative of the new "rights" which have been incorporated into the new Human Rights Commission Act, and the interpretations that world "experts" have put on them. These are the kind of "rights" the HRC will spend its time implementing.
It is an appalling prospect.
What we are face to face with here is what has been described as the "surprising contradiction".
"Precisely in an age when the inviolable rights of the person are solemnly proclaimed and the value of life is publicly affirmed, the very right to life is being denied or trampled upon, especially at the more significant moments of existence: the moment of birth and the moment of death"
"On the one hand, ... the various declarations show that ... there is a growing moral sensitivity, ... On the other hand, these noble proclamations are unfortunately contradiced by a tragic repudiation of them in practice."
"These attacks go directly against respect for life and they represent a direct threat to the entire culture of human rights."
(Extracts from "Evangelium Vitae")
Australian Government Withdraws from UN Treaty Monitoring System
News Release from:
Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute
866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 4038
New York, New York 10017
Phone: (212) 754-5948 Fax: (212) 754-9291
E-mail: email@example.com Website: www.c-fam.org
September 11, 2000
Volume 3, Number 42
* In a highly controversial move, the coalition government of Prime
Minister John Howard recently announced Australia will no longer report to UN bodies charged with monitoring compliance with UN human rights treaties. The government announced it was capable of monitoring its own human rights record.
* UN documents are mostly aspirational documents with no force in law yet they establish committees to oversee implementation of treaties before which governments must periodically appear. These committees also send "special rappateurs" to investigate the country within its own borders.
* Governmental complaints to this system are growing and are multi-faceted. They complain UN treaties have begun to assert
international standards that have the force of law. In some cases national courts have begun to adjudicate using non-binding UN instruments. At the very least, governments are put under tremendous pressure to succumb not just to the letter of the document, but also what the unelected monitoring committee determines is its spirit.
* The most controversial examples of what some see as overreaching by a UN committee come from the one established by the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
Although the CEDAW document condemns prostitution, the CEDAW committee directed China to legalize it.
Although CEDAW does not mention abortion, the committee criticized Ireland for having restrictive abortion laws.
The committee directed Kyrgystan to legalize prostitution, and criticized Belarus for instituting Mother's Day. In
what may be the oddest directive, the CEDAW committee directed Libya
to reinterpret the Koran in order to fall within committee guidelines.
* Governments also complain about the growing and some say menacing role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in deciding UN policy and in pursuing what they see as human rights miscreants.
NGOs frequently run investigations of their own and then approach UN treaty monitoring bodies to bring the recalcitrant government into line.
* The move of Australia should be seen within this context. Australia's specific complaint comes from what it sees as unfair criticism from UN bodies and NGOs over its treatment of Aborigines and
The government began a review of the treaty monitoring system last March. It's report found that UN human rights treaty bodies "need a complete overhaul." The report singled out for criticism the role of NGOs, which frequently override the role of "democratically elected governments." The report, issued by Alexander Downer, Minister for Foreign Affairs, also insists the "treaty committee system work within its mandate."
* It is believed this is the first time a government has pulled out of the treaty monitoring system. Given the frequently odd reports of the treaty committees the move by Australia may embolden other governments to follow suit.
* Pro-life Australians give credit for this move to a conservative NGO, Endeavour Forum.
Copyright - C-FAM (Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute).
Permission granted for unlimited use. Credit required.
15 September 2000
Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
"Adopted and proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 217 A(III) of 10 December 1948.
"On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights ..... Following this historic act the Assembly called upon all Member countries to publicize the text of the Declaration and to "cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories"
"Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,
"Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people, ..."
Full text at UN website.
A Chilling Thought...
A recent report (January 2000) on Ireland from Mary Robinson's agency, the UN Commission on Human Rights, urges the removal of all restrictions on the advocacy or advertising of abortion.
This may not strike one as unusual until one considers what abortion is.
It will be recalled that the UN Declaration of Human Rights (1948) was made in response to the gross abuses of fundamental human rights which the world had just experienced. Many of these abuses were with full legal authority.
It is a chilling thought that the UN Commission on Human Rights, established to give effect to that Declaration, should itself now be calling for easier access to information intended to lead to the extinction of the right to life of a particular class of person, ie, the unborn.
(Published in at least 9 newspapers)
19 May 2000
Austin Ruse is an old-fashioned warrior. In close collaboration with the Holy See Mission to the United Nations in New York, he fights for life, freedom and happiness for the most defenceless.
He is the president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-Fam) in New York. He is a joyful warrior in the face of heavily financed attacks on the sacredness of human life and the family at the|United Nations. We are indebted to Inside the Vatican for the following interview (edited and emphasis added) with Ruse in June 2000, published June-July 2000.
1. Mr Ruse, how did C-Fam come into being?
Austin Ruse: The UN pro-family and pro-life movement was founded in 1994 when the Holy Father called people of faith to go to Cairo to lobby the UN delegates on pupulation and development. A few hundred ordinary citizens answered that call and the movement was born.
Primarily, we're an office of communications. We bring the pro-life and pro-family message into the UN to bureaucrats and diplomats. We also explain the very complicated UN to the wider pro-life and pro-family world.
2. Some groups, have a deep suspicion of the UN. What is your view?
Ruse: There are some people fixated on the idea that the United Nations is going to take over the world. But the UN is just not that organised. I like to say the UN couldn't organise a cocktail party in a distillery. These cariacatures distract us from our real mission, which is countering the anti-life programmes being forced on the world through the UN.
3. What do you see as the danger?
Ruse: What I see is one of the biggest power grabs in the history of the world. It's seductive for some to think they can direct the intimate lives of every man, woman and child on the face of the earth. UN documents and international agencies are spreading a kind of virus around the world.
4. At The Hague last year, an official of the World bank boasted that the first thing they ask a developing nation seeking a loan is, "What are you doing to limit your population?" And if that nation doesn't go along with the UN population programme they don't get the loan. Is that typical?
Ruse: Sure. When the government of Nicaragua recently turned down a portion of UN money that was tied to abortion, the UN agency, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) yanked all their money from Nicaragua. So, yes, there are strings attached to these things that would never be arrived at democratically.
5. Some of us still have an image of a UN headed by Dag Hammerskjold and U Thant, and the great hope attached to the UN after the Second World War. What happened?
Ruse: The Cold War ended. For decades the UN concentrated on the fight between the free West and enslaved East. Social policy questions were just not debated. The seeds of radical individualism and population control were there from the very beginning but they were not able to gain voice until after the end of the Cold War.
Once that happened the floodgates were opened and now we are absolutely awash in almost nothing but talk of reproductive rights.
The second thing that happened was the explosion of non-governmental organisations. They have had a negative effect on UN business. A non-governmental organisation is any group of people who have formed for any reason. They hang out a shingle and come to the United Nations and begin agitating for all kinds of radical ideas.
More often than not these NGOs are funded by enormous American foundations which are very radical in their world view. These NGOs come and put direct pressure on governments to change their laws and vote a certain way on UN resolutions.
6. Who are some of these foundations?
Ruse: The Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, Playboy, Bill Gates is now involved, George Soros is involved, Ted Turner's UN Foundation is involved. We are just awash in billions of dollars of dirty reproductive rights money.
7. What about Planned Parenthood?
Ruse: International Planned Parenthood Federation holds pride of place here at the UN.
8. What about the population controllers, the radical feminists and other pressure groups? What are they seeking from the UN?
Ruse: Their whole project is to change the way we live. They strike at the heart of the family, religious faith, the nation and the Church. Their agenda is a leftist - even Marxist - agenda of what some call the "new class" who think they know better than what tradition has taught us from the dawn of time. Their agenda is to change the way we live as individuals, families and nations.
9. And this involves, for example, changing the definition of family?
Ruse: Specifically, they want the family to include homosexual couples, and make abortion a universally recognised "human right". They want to clamp down on fertility so nations begin to shrink in size.
1. Inside the Vatican is an independent Catholic magazine published every two months. Subscription information at 1-800-789-9494 (USA).
2. C-Fam publishes an online weekly report on UN life and family activities, "The Friday Fax" which goes to thousands worldwide, via email. The Friday Fax is sent free of charge to all who request it by email at : firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. Mr Ruse (with Mr Brian Clowes) spoke at various centres throughout Ireland 19-28 September 2000.
The subject was the role of the UN (and EU) in the promotion of abortion, and anti-family policies, etc.
Tapes of addresses from the organisers, Human Life International, 6, Belvedere Place, Dublin 1. (855 2504)
6 November 2000