NEW YORK, February 14 (C-Fam) A UN committee known for aggressively promoting abortion rights is lobbying the General Assembly to establish a UN system-wide mechanism that would expand its power and influence.
According to a draft resolution shown to the Friday Fax alongside communications from UN committee members, the mechanism would give the UN secretariat and agencies power to decide a set of global indicators to evaluate the performance of countries and UN agencies on both the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The committee that monitors country compliance with that treaty is asking states to adopt it by the second week of March.
All UN member states and UN entities would be evaluated and required to report to the new mechanism on their performance on the indicators ostensibly based on the CEDAW treaty. But the resolution would make the CEDAW committee’s own non-binding opinions the basis of the indicators.
The proposal will not be an easy sell. Aside from duplicating and fragmenting the work of UN Women and UN treaty bodies to promote gender equality, it also undermines the already agreed indicators and implementation framework for the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by UN General Assembly.
The CEDAW mechanism also raises first order concerns about UN treaty bodies. The new mechanism would undermine the final authority of States to interpret the treaties they ratify. Some states, such as the U.S., are not parties to the CEDAW treaty.
More controversially, any kind of lobbying or interference in UN political negotiations from UN human rights bodies is highly controversial. It compromises their independence and implies that treaty body members may be using their influence to obtain favors from UN Member States, essentially horse-trading with human rights.
The new mechanism could dramatically increase the influence and reach of members of the monitoring committee. The mechanism could also potentially benefit CEDAW committee members after their tenure on the committee is over, by providing a government-funded international forum where their expertise and experience on CEDAW will be compensated. This presents a conflict of interests.
Moreover, the CEDAW committee members have approached states individually, including their own states of origin. This can raise the specter of undue influence and the possibility of a quid pro quo. Committee members are not compensated, but they hold considerable leverage on States that are parties to the treaty because the committee routinely issues critical comments against States.
The CEDAW committee has been at the forefront of promoting novel and extravagant interpretations of the CEDAW treaty. Committee members routinely tell countries to make abortion legal as a right under the CEDAW treaty even though the treaty is silent on abortion. The committee also promotes legalizing prostitution, special new rights based on “sexual orientation and gender identity,” and “comprehensive sexuality education” as well as other controversial topics that are not addressed in the CEDAW treaty.
The UN General Assembly will evaluate the work of all ten UN human rights treaty bodies beginning in September at the next session of the General Assembly. The lobbying activities of the CEDAW committee, and the questions it raised, may be raised at that time.
Stefano Gennarini, JD, writes for C-Fam. This article first appeared in the Friday Fax, an internet report published weekly by C-Fam (Center for Family & Human Rights), a New York and Washington DC-based research institute (https://c-fam.org/). This article appears with permission.