By Marie-Christine Houle

TORONTO, Canada, December 18, 2007 ( – Two main events caught our attention over the past two weeks.

Climate Change – United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC):

There have been concerns the conference could be used by pro-abortion groups to push an anti-family, anti-life agenda. 

A CBC news report said that Canada was highly criticized at the conference for its inactivity on the climate change front. Although Canada did ratify the Kyoto protocol, it has in the last few months aligned itself with the United States position.

The U.S. is often isolated at the United Nations, taking a stand against Kyoto and for the family. According to some observers, Canada’s recent tendency to embrace the U.S. perspective on climate change will cause severe damage to the country’s international reputation. However, the Canadian delegation has not seen fit to embrace the U.S. delegates’ usual pro-life, pro-family policies and continues to be at the forefront of the battle for more sexual and reproductive rights, an attitude inconsistent with social conservative values.

At the conclusion of the Bali conference, many agreed that it was the first step towards the establishment of a successor to the Kyoto protocol. It took two intense days of negotiation before the head of the U.S. delegation, Paula Dobriansky, announced that the U.S. was dropping its opposition to the G77 plan. The G77 is composed of developing countries. However, the U.S., supported by Canada and Japan, said specific targets should be set during the negotiations that are set to commence. It is important to keep in mind that the developing countries can easily be swayed by donor countries. It will be important to monitor if the move towards environmental activism will be linked with the theory that the world is overpopulated, which normally translates into abortion, sterilization and other “family planning” programs.

Rights of the Child – High Level Plenary Meeting Devoted to the Follow up of the Outcome of the Special Session on Children

Not much debate took place, as the Heads of States or official representatives gathered in New York last week (December 10th-12th 2007) for the Commemorative High Plenary Meeting Devoted to the Follow-up to the Outcome of the Special Session on Children. Five years ago, world leaders met in New York and discussed a plan to make “A World Fit for Children”. At that time, they identified various categories and sub-categories that needed to be addressed to better the lives of children world wide. The 3 main categories were:
1)    Health, Nutrition, Water and Sanitation
2)    Education and Literacy
3)    Children’s Protection and Civil Rights

5 years later, the world leaders or their representatives gathered to recommit themselves to the implementation of the platform of “A World Fit for Children”.

A resolution adopted by the General Assembly Friday December 7th, 2007 focuses largely on adolescents (defined by the U.N. as people aged 13 to 24) and their needs. Focusing on teens or adolescents makes it easier to justify various programs to the mainstream, who do not necessarily realize the harm caused by the push for sexual and reproductive rights.

On December 11th, 141 heads of states or high representatives (ministers of families, etc.) addressed the General Assembly to report on the progress of their respective countries in implementing their national plan of action that came out of “A World Fit for Children”. Many also mentioned the need for more investment if developing countries are to meet the Millennium Development Goals. The Convention on the Rights of the Child was also mentioned several times. The document, which has been ratified by more countries than any other, celebrated its 18th anniversary at the end of November 2007.

Two round tables were also scheduled during the event. The first, “Promoting Healthy Lives and Fighting HIV/AIDS” was of particular interest. A round table should be an interactive discussion during which participants have a chance to challenge one another by asking questions. Although child observers and young delegates were in attendance and asked questions, very few received an answer. The delegations chose to use this forum to ask for more funding and to report on their respective countries’ achievements.

Some of the questions were:
–    How can we prevent discrimination brought by HIV/AIDS that affect children?
–    How can we improve education for those not in schools due to health problems?
–    How can we use natural resources to help address HIV/AIDS?
–    With the Kyoto Protocol coming to an end, how can we protect the future generation from pollution?

The Chinese representative said that “children are the future of mankind” which is largely inconsistent with the Chinese government’s brutal one child policy. A young representative from the Netherlands, Sandra stated: “young people do have sex but less than 50% use female or male condoms”. Sadly, although the need for better understanding of HIV/AIDS was mentioned a few times as an essential tool in the fight against the disease, abstinence was never mentioned as a valid solution to the problem.

The delegation from the Holy See called for policies that would fulfill the need for “spiritual, moral and social development”.

On December 12th, issues were discussed in a round table titled “Providing Universal quality education as a key to achieving the Millennium development goals and as the first line of protection against abuse and violence against children”.

Finally, the head of many delegations presented concluding information to the General Assembly. All eyes were on the U.S. delegation Chair because the United States has not yet ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Under the Bush administration, the U.S. delegation has been acting as a counter-balance to the anti-family, anti-life stands coming out of the European Union. 

The U.S. representative stated: “Family is the basic unit of society, the first line of defense against many systemic ills. Mothers and fathers have unique contributions to the lives if their children and we need to make efforts to strengthen marriages”.          

U.N. Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, issued a report to address the progress made since 2002. He touched briefly on sexual and reproductive health rights. Although the discussion around the rights of the child has always addressed the developmental stage of the child, particular attention was paid to teenagers during the event.

Adolescents (defined by the U.N as people 13-24), were at the center of the discussion during the plenary meeting. This may be because the public may be more easily manipulated to accept that the sexual and reproductive rights of people in that age group need to be ‘protected’. However, anti-family, anti-life policies hurt everyone, especially adolescents and children who are in a vulnerable formative stage.