Late on Friday, the UN negotiating room erupted in cheers as anti-family activists welcomed the adoption of the “Agreed Conclusions” for the Commission on Status of Women (CSW) 57th session. Two weeks of intense negotiations had produced a document that was less than favorable to the cause of family and of life. United Families representatives, along with other members of the pro-family/pro-life coalition, had gone late into the night monitoring negotiations, providing options for language, and working to shore up the family-friendly delegations. In the end, however, it became clear that one of our biggest opponents had been the media.
Before CSW even began, media was circulating the meme that the delegations of Russia, Iran, the Holy See, Pakistan, were going to work to stymie negotiations. The articles (examples here and here) implied that nations that are conservative in worldview and adhere to religion and traditional cultural values were complicit in promoting violence against women. (Eliminating Violence against Women and Girls” was the theme of the two-week gathering.) The news articles made it clear that if the outcome document failed (as it did last year) that it would be the fault of these nations and their delegations.
At about 5:30 pm on the final day, the negotiation’s facilitator announced that a “Chairman’s text” was now going to be used as the final version. There was no word as to who had actually been involved in compiling the text. It was a stunning turn of events because the Chairman’s text retained much of the language that pro-family countries had opposed for weeks and yet the compilers of the text had simply dropped many of the pro-life/pro-family phrases and paragraphs. In the end, few delegations spoke out against the Chairman’s text or registered reservations and it was adopted.
The anti-family contingents at CSW were not going to let this document fail and it appeared that the media campaign against the pro-family position had done its job. The voices of our usually out-spoken and assertive pro-family delegations had been tempered. Long-time UN watchers observed that if the text had gone to an actual counted vote, pro-family delegations did not have sufficient enough numbers to defeat the Chairman’s text so why should they risk the wrath of the media and the liberal delegations, when opposing the draft in the final moments would not have affected the outcome anyway. “It was a done deal from the beginning,” one observer noted.
Specific Outcomes of CSW 57 “Agreed Conclusions”
Some of the troubling language:
- Multiple references to “sexual and reproductive” health care/services/rights (used to promote abortion).
- “gender-related crimes” in the context of the International Criminal Court; “gender-based violence” causing “…psychological harm or suffering…” (“Gender” is often used in the context of acknowledging and promoting homosexual behaviors.)
- Deletion of the paragraph supporting a nation’s sovereign rights, “…with full respect for the various religious and ethical values and cultural backgrounds of its people, and conformity with universally recognized international human rights.”
- Gone from text are references to “sexual or gender orientation” or “gender-identity” (The opposition was saddened by its loss, noting that it referred to “women who love other women”.) References to “intimate partner” “intimate relationships” were also removed. (This is language intended to normalize out-of-wedlock sexual relations.)
- Retention of ICPD language in reference to abortion.
- An inclusion of the troubling language of “comprehensive sexuality education” but qualified with this important phrase: “…with the appropriate direction and guidance from parents and legal guardians…”
- Inclusions of need to eliminate “prenatal sex selection,” “forced hysterectomy,” forced sterilization,” forced use of contraceptives”
A Bad Document, but a Great Education!
United Families International conducted a parallel event called: “Eliminating Violence against Women and Girls: What does the research say?” To a packed room, we presented a wealth of evidence that the safest place for women and children is in a stabled, married, heterosexual household. Included in the event was a short presentation on the horrific practice of sex-selective abortion (the systematic termination of unborn females). At the completion of the presentation, a young Hungarian woman approached one of the college students who was part of the UFI team and mentioned that prior to our presentation she “had never before considered how women, and human beings in general, have rights before they are born.”
The UFI team was pleased to recognize once again that the real win is in the heart and mind of each individual. We came away with a long list of individuals from around the world who requested a copy of the power point so they could share the research with others. Every individual who becomes convinced of the necessity of the family in providing a safe place for women, adds one more powerful voice in defense of the family.
The UFI team, which consisted of six college students, their two professors, and UFI’s other volunteers, were able to visit twelve UN Missions. They delivered UFI’s Negotiating Guide and the book on the importance of Family Capital in meeting the Millennium Development Goals. Mission visits are a wonderful way to become acquainted with the delegates, offer support and encouragement for their difficult task of standing firm against the huge wall of opposition, and to spread a pro-family/pro-life message.
Lastly, we were also supported by a group of dedicated students from Patrick Henry College. We thank them for their work. Please take a minute to check out some of their blog posts (below). You’ll gain some interesting insights into the Commission on the Status of Women.
It does not surprise us that the UN commissions become increasingly resistant to family-friendly documents. But we will not give up! We will continue to work with the International pro-family coalition to discover ways to protect the family and stop the progress of the opposition. We learned this time the power the media can play in the UN and we will be prepared to fight that battle in the future. We know that those of our team who experienced the UN for the first time have seen another side of the opposition and they left more empowered to defend the family on all levels.
We wish you could all have that experience and hope that our report lights a fire in your hearts to continue the critical work of protecting and strengthening the family.