Thursday November 29, 2007

UN Committee Gives More Money and Influence to Abortion Pushing CEDAW Committee

U.S. only country to oppose General Assembly motion

By Samantha Singson

NEW YORK, November 29, 2007 ( This week, the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly passed a resolution to give nearly $11 million more to the controversial committee that monitors the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). While the United States was the only country to vote against the resolution, several other delegations expressed concerns regarding particular provisions for the increased funding, the call to withdraw reservations to the treaty, as well as increasing the number and length of CEDAW committee sessions.

The nations that originally negotiated the treaty provided for only two annual sessions of the CEDAW committee to last no more than two weeks. The new resolution empowers the CEDAW Committee to meet for three annual sessions, effective from January 2010. The resolution also authorizes the CEDAW Committee to hold five sessions from 2008 to 2009 and extends the length of each meeting to a month, which includes a preparation week which pro-abortion groups use to lobby the committee. The cost of having additional meetings in Geneva and New York in 2008-2009 accounts for the increased funding.

The resolution also urges nations “to take into consideration the concluding comments as well as the general recommendations of the Committee…” This is perhaps the most controversial part of the resolution because it is in the concluding comments and general recommendations that the CEDAW Committee tries to pressure countries into legalizing abortion, though the CEDAW Convention is silent on the matter.

Another contentious issue in the resolution was a provision to pressure states to remove their reservations to the Convention. A reservation is a statement a country makes intended to exclude them from one or more provisions or place certain interpretations on them. Singapore took issue with the resolution’s call to regularly review States’ reservations to the CEDAW Convention “with a view to withdrawing them” and expressed strong concern over a UN committee attempting to override a state’s sovereign right to interpret a treaty. While the CEDAW Convention enjoys near universal ratification, it is also the treaty that has acquired the most reservations.

Australia, Japan, Egypt, Syria, Venezuela and the United Kingdom also took the floor to register their concerns regarding the increasing time and cost of the CEDAW Committee meetings.

Conservatives point out that one of the many problems with the CEDAW Committee, besides its propensity to redefine the treaty in any way they see fit, is that it is largely a committee of NGOs. Half of the CEDAW Committee members are direct employees of such radical NGOs as International Women’s Rights Watch, the Latin America and Caribbean Committee for the Defense of Women’s Rights, the International Council of Women and the Global Fund for Women. So, what happens is that sovereign states must appear every few years to get the approval of NGOs. To date the committee has pressured nearly 60 countries to liberalize their abortion laws.

The General Assembly is expected to take action on the resolution in the upcoming weeks.

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