By Samantha Singson

Paul Hunt NEW YORK, December 20, 2007 ( – The UN Human Rights Council began a debate last week in Geneva about whether to keep a highly controversial official in his job and many UN Member States are hopping mad. Since 2002 Paul Hunt has held the position of Special Rapporteur on the Highest Attainable Standard of Physical and Mental Health. Hunt has used the position to promote an international right to abortion and special rights for homosexuals. Moreover, Hunt is officially connected to a pro-abortion law firm in New York called the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR).

One of the most controversial cases involving Hunt was his involvement earlier this year in drafting a document called the Yogyakarta Principles, which reinterprets 29 existing human rights to claim that all nations are obligated to grant special rights for homosexuals, including the right to same-sex unions and adoption. In 2004, Hunt used his official position to author a UN report calling for the recognition of “sexual rights” and the right to express “sexual orientation” without “social interference,” even though neither term has ever been accepted in a binding UN document. Hunt’s 2004 report also called on governments to make abortion available on demand and to train and equip health service providers to perform abortions. 

The far left government of Brazil introduced the resolution to extend Hunt’s mandate, praising the special rapporteur for his contribution to the “understanding of health issues such as ‘sexual and reproductive rights.’” The resolution further called on the Special Rapporteur for Health “to continue to pay attention to sexual and reproductive health as an integral element” of the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

Egypt, Pakistan and Algeria took the floor to oppose the Special Rapporteur’s promotion of abortion and his involvement with the Center for Reproductive Rights. Egypt further expressed concern about Hunt’s contribution to the controversial Yogyakarta Principles, and stated that while he understood that values pertaining to “sexual orientation” were acceptable in many countries, his delegation objects to “any attempt to use the UN name to promote any concept that does not enjoy consensus within the UN.”

Hunt defended his promotion of abortion saying that where abortion was legal, it had to be made accessible in order to prevent discrimination. He then defended his involvement with the pro-abortion NGO CRR saying that he could serve as an advisor to an NGO without being aligned with their position. Finally, he said his position on “sexual orientation” was consistent with positions taken by other UN special rapporteurs, some of whom also contributed to the Yogyakarta Principles.

The Council ended up voting to keep the position of Special Rapporteur on Health for an additional three years but won’t decide until March whether the controversial Hunt gets to keep the job.