by Stefano Gennarini, J.D.
NEW YORK, April 18 (C-FAM) The sexual left had to swallow a bitter pill last week at the UN Commission on Population and Development.
Wealthy countries could not muster enough support to include sexual rights and abortion rights in a UN resolution. At the same time, they consolidated their position looking ahead to the new UN development agenda post-2015, something that does not bode well for friends of the unborn child.
The sexual and reproductive health establishment is devastated that a resolution adopted at the commission this year, celebrating the 1994 UN Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), does not alter the substance of the agreement that made sexual and reproductive health a staple of the diet provided to poor people through development aid. The conference did not recognize abortion as a right or any sexual rights for that matter, even casting them in a bad light, and did not mention sexual orientation and gender identity or sexual rights. This is something the sexual left has been trying to rectify for over twenty years, without success.
This year’s UN Commission on Population and Development was especially significant because it marked the 20th anniversary of the Cairo agreement. But more importantly, it offered a last chance to get sexual rights, specific rights for men who have sex with men (MSM), and abortion rights added to the Cairo agenda before the General Assembly that will decide the post-2015 development agenda.
In 2010 countries agreed that they would not renegotiate the Cairo policies, deciding instead to recommit to the 1994 policies in order to avoid re-opening discussions of all things sexual and reproductive. For the UN Population Fund, who gained the most from the Cairo policies, it became a question of expanding the meaning of the Cairo agreement in regional conferences. They hoped that the conferences might be used to whip countries into supporting new language about MSM and abortion. In the end, the most the sexual and reproductive health establishment was able to get at this year’s commission was an acknowledgement that different regions have different guiding principles in interpreting the Cairo policies.
Once again, the expectation that abortion rights and MSM rights will inevitably gain universal acceptance has proved somewhat unrealistic. Abortion and MSM remain as controversial today as they were 20 years ago, according to Babatunde Osotimehin who heads the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). He spoke to the Associated Press as negotiations were still ongoing, blithely giving away that he did not expect the resolution to move beyond Cairo.
After three years of intense lobbying, a dozen international conferences, and millions of dollars spent evaluating the Programme of Action of the Cairo Conference, UNFPA has not been able to change even the punctuation in the Cairo agreement when it comes to abortion and MSM. Kate Gillmore, a UNFPA executive heavily invested in sexual rights, was visibly frustrated about this lack of progress as negotiations were winding down at 5 a.m. Saturday morning.
Pro-life and pro-family groups should delight in knowing that the sexual and reproductive rights establishment has failed to advance their agenda at all through UN policy channels. Abortion is nowhere nearer to being a human right today than twenty years ago and same-sex marriage is a difficult lift even in countries where MSM has gained widespread social acceptance. But there is a caveat.
Our optimism for the future must be tempered by realism. In one important respect the sexual and reproductive health establishment keeps winning, and that is through funding where they receive hundreds of millions, even billions of dollars.
UNFPA, the governments that fund it, and their satellite organizations still able to strong-arm countries into endorsing and investing in the Cairo policies to the tune of billions of dollars every year.
So long as the ICPD agenda is in place, millions of dollars will pour into the coffers of organizations that promote abortion. Under these policies groups can get money with the pretext of providing sexual and reproductive health services and advocacy and they can then turn around and provide abortions or lobby for abortions, because in UN policy those terms include abortion by definition, albeit only where abortion is legal.
Source: Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute