NEW YORK, September 4, 2015 (C-Fam) The U.S. complained this week that the new UN development goals do not break any new ground on abortion.
On Tuesday, after 3 years of negotiations, the General Assembly formally adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, which world leaders will launch at a Summit later this month. While countries lauded the new goals, many expressed disappointment.
The Secretary General praised the breadth of the 17 goals and 169 targets dealing with social, economic and environmental issues.
“I am delighted that more than 150 world leaders as well as His Holiness Pope Francis will join us to start this new era for sustainable development,” he announced.
The U.S. lodged a reservation to the goals and targets.
“We believe that we could have gone farther and broken new ground. We instead relied on agreed language,” the U.S. stated, referring to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights. The new goals do not depart from previous agreements that do not recognize abortion as an international right.
Even as the U.S. acknowledged this international stalemate on abortion, 54 countries in the African Group, the largest regional negotiating bloc at the UN, warned against using the goals to promote abortion.
“Sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights cannot be considered to create or imply a right to abortion,” said Senegal, speaking on behalf of the African Group. They also excluded “any interpretation of any terms that runs counter to domestic law.”
Iceland responded that it was against any country that tried to “condition women’s rights with national law.”
The Holy See went further than the African Group, qualifying the entire agenda with the hope that all countries will strive to protect life in the womb.
“The Holy See remains confident that the related pledge ‘no one will be left behind’ will serve as the perspective through which the entire Agenda will be read to protect the right to life of the person, from conception until natural death,” they said.
In that vein, Ecuador stated that it recognized and protected life “from conception.”
The issue of LGBT rights was even more contested.
The African Group, the Gulf Cooperation Council, Iran, Egypt, Chad, Sudan, Russia, all made statements that implicitly or explicitly denied that “sexual orientation and gender identity”, a phrase that does not appear in the document, should be taken into account as the agenda is implemented.
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The Gulf Cooperation Council and the African Group also lamented the absence of any recognition of the family’s role in contributing to sustainable development and reiterated that the family is the result of the union of a man and a woman.
Brazil complained it “would have preferred a more progressive and ambitious agenda on human rights.” Specifically, it noted how LGBTI groups were not included in the new UN development goals.
The U.S. remarked that they believe the agenda should be implemented with LGBT rights in mind. They will host an event at UN headquarters this fall with 16 other countries to discuss how LGBT rights can be integrated in the new development goals.
Further reservations are expected in writing in the weeks leading up to the Summit.
Reprinted with permission from C-Fam.