US, African nations hold the line on abortion at UN
April 20, 2018 (C-Fam) – The United States and the African Group rejected a UN resolution on migration last week because Europeans insisted upon including abortion-related language and excluding language that would protect national sovereignty.
The Chairman, Ambassador Ion Jinga of Romania, appeared impatient and frustrated as countries met one last time to try and reach an agreement at the last meeting of this year's session of the Commission on Population and Development Friday afternoon.
Siding with a European-led coalition against the United States and the African Group, Jinga did not include a paragraph about sovereignty or delete abortion related terminology in the final Chairman's draft of the agreement after negotiations broke down Thursday evening. It proved fatal to the draft.
The European coalition convinced Jinga that the Africans' and the United States' insistence on these issues was a bluff. It was a calculated risk. The Europeans would rather not have an agreement at all, than having one that rules out an international right to abortion.
Jinga tried his hand at humor in his final desperate plea, without success. "There is not the word sovereignty. But if you take a dictionary you will see that the word is there. If you Google the word sovereignty you will find the wording I have used in the text," Jinga said emphatically.
The Ambassador of Algeria saw this as reproach.
"We don't need Google, because the main definition of sovereignty is in the UN Charter," he retorted, describing sovereignty as a sacred principle of the UN Charter.
"Without respect between delegations and to the founding principles of the Charter we cannot advance," the Algerian added.
Delegates took the floor to lament the lack of consensus and the intransigence of the European coalition.
"We have called for the inclusion of a true sovereignty clause," said the U.S. delegate referring to standard language about respect for sovereignty in many UN agreements. She said the failure to reach an agreement was "regrettable."
Tell Justin Trudeau to stop banning funding to pro-life groups. Sign the petition here!
In addition, she explained the U.S. had been equally clear that it was unwilling to accept "unqualified" references to abortion related terms like sexual and reproductive health.
"These terms are open to many interpretations," she said, pointing to the International Conference on Population and Development, as the only acceptable framework to refer to the terms, because it excluded an international right to abortion.
A delegate of the Holy See blamed the failure of the commission on "persistent disregard for red lines" and an "inordinate focus" on abortion related terms.
The European led coalition that convinced Jinga to leave out sovereignty and keep the abortion related terminology said they promised to "do everything in their power" to promote sexual and reproductive health and rights in every region of the world. The coalition included Germany, France, The United Kingdom, Nordic Countries, Japan, Canada, Australia, among thirty or so other nations that are part of the pro-abortion She Decides Campaign to challenge and undermine U.S. foreign policy to protect life.
It is the third time in four years that the Commission has failed to reach an agreement.
UN Population Fund chief Dr. Natalia Kanem, in her first appearance before the Commission, acknowledged that abortion-related language in UN agreements had "perhaps never been more contentious." But she insisted sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights were essential in the context of migration, and especially in response to sexual violence.
Published with permission from C-Fam.