On Families, Faith & Sovereignty...

John blueoval at SGI.NET
Wed Feb 14 14:18:50 MST 2001


LINK to Full Text:

http://www.heritage.org/library/backgrounder/bg1407.html
February 5, 2001

HOW U.N. CONVENTIONS ON WOMEN'S AND CHILDREN'S RIGHTS UNDERMINE FAMILY,
RELIGION, AND SOVEREIGNTY

PATRICK F. FAGAN
As Bush Administration officials at the U.S. Department of State begin to
familiarize themselves with the activities of the United Nations and its
many affiliated agencies, they will be inundated with reports about mission
creep, overstretched resources and waste, unfair dues assessments, and
other problems repeatedly targeted for reform by Congress. One area,
however, deserves focused attention: how various U.N. agencies are
attempting to force countries to implement a radical interpretation of
treaties on women's and children's rights. Like oversight of how the
federal government implements the laws Congress passes, oversight of how
U.N. agencies implement treaties, conventions, and agreements is vital to
assure Americans that the activities funded comport with U.S. policy and
are not inimical to U.S. interests.

A close examination of the reports issued by U.N. committees monitoring the
implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the
Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
shows that these committees are pushing an agenda that counters traditional
moral and social norms regarding the family, marriage, motherhood, and
religion. The advice that these agents of the U.N. High Commissioner on
Human Rights and other agencies give individual signatories often violates
the language of the U.N.'s own founding documents and undermines a nation's
sovereign right to determine its own domestic policy. The policies and laws
they push also promote behavior that ultimately will cause greater harm to
women and children, increasing family breakdown and the many problems
associated with it.

As this report will show, the committees are very direct about what they
want. One of them, for example, expressed concern that parents in England
and Wales were allowed to withdraw their children from sex education
programs in school; another criticized the celebration of Mothers' Day in
Belarus because it allegedly promoted a "sex-role stereotype." Committees
have criticized "cultural and religious values" that support mothers
staying at home to raise their young children, because they "undermine the
universality of women's rights." They have urged countries to institute
legal structures that would allow children to take their parents to court
when they disagree about the content of sex education. They advise
countries that prohibit prostitution to legitimize it, and countries that
have relaxed their laws against prostitution to extend to prostitution all
the legal rights afforded other professions. And they have criticized
conscientious objection clauses in laws for doctors that object to abortion.

In general, the social policy agents at these U.N. committees, working
often with radical special-interest groups, advise nations to alter the
very structure of their societies to decrease the emphasis on marriage, the
nuclear family, parental authority, and religious beliefs; mothers are
encouraged to find fulfillment by leaving their children in the care of
strangers and entering the workforce, and social or legal restraints on
sexual activity among adolescents are targeted for removal. Surprisingly,
these committees ignore the mounting evidence that the basic family unit of
married parents who worship yields far superior social outcomes for
children's health, intellectual development, and educational and income
attainment, and lower rates of crime, welfare dependency, and teenage
pregnancy. They also ignore polls that show most mothers would prefer
staying home to raise their young children.

Although the United States has not ratified these conventions, the Clinton
Administration supported the agenda of the U.N. implementing committees.
The Bush Administration and Congress now have an opportunity to make a
strong statement: The United States firmly supports parents' rights and
national sovereignty and will oppose the efforts of U.N. agents to impose
their radical agenda on any country, especially small and poor ones. The
State Department should review the reports of these committees and devise a
strategy to reduce the threat that their proposals pose to all societies.

Specifically:


*Make clear that the United States will not ratify the Convention on the
Rights of the Child or sign the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms
of Discrimination Against Women because of the implementing committees'
controversial interpretations.

*Make clear that the United States firmly supports the right of parents to
make decisions regarding the health, education, and religious upbringing of
their children.

*Urge other nations, especially poor and lesser developed nations, on a
selective basis to refuse to cooperate with U.N. committee reporting
systems in these areas because the directions they receive violate
traditional family and religious norms.

*Establish ways to counter any threat or reprisals at the U.N. against
nations, especially poor countries, that seek to defend their cultures,
religious beliefs, and families.

*Conduct hearings on the efforts of U.N. committees to implement policies
that undermine the family, religious freedom, and national sovereignty.

*Demand that the State Department submit by a fixed date an annual detailed
report of the activities and spending of U.N. committees that deal with
family and religious issues, and use the evidence in these reports to
reduce funding for any activities aimed at changing traditional family and
religious norms.

*Request the U.S. General Accounting Office to assess the flow of funds
from the United States to non-governmental organizations acting under U.N.
auspices to implement the committees' radical agenda.


*Start a new alliance at the U.N. with countries that will work to protect
and strengthen social structures supporting the family, religious freedom,
and national sovereignty.



-- Patrick F. Fagan is William H. G. FitzGerald Fellow in Family and
Cultural Issues at The Heritage Foundation.

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