Lobbysists help Third World delegates resist anti-family demands of
By Paul Tuns
Western countries and NGO’s
Despite organized and virulent opposition to their lobbying efforts, pro-life and pro-family groups scored a major victory at the recent intersessional preparatory meetings for Beijing+5.
Pro-life and pro-family non-governmental organizations (NGOs) including Canada’s Campaign Life Coalition and REAL Women, prevented anti-life, anti-family language from being inserted into the final document that was awaiting approval from the General Assembly.
The “plus five” meetings are intended to encourage the implementation of international agreements five years after they are concluded. The Fourth World Conference on Women was held in Beijing in 1995.
At the outset of the Beijing +5 meetings, held at United Nations headquarters in New York beginning May 24, these groups were concerned that radical feminists and official delegates from western countries (including Canada) were attempting to promote abortion under the guise of reproductive rights, including the mandatory training of all health care professionals in abortion delivery, as well as same-sex rights, sexual rights for children as young as ten, and softening of the language condemning pornography and prostitution.
But the final document didn’t reflect this radical feminist agenda because of the work of people like Tanya Granic, executive director of Campaign Life Coalition Youth and a member of the World Youth Alliance which lobbies at the UN. Granic told The Interim pro-life NGOs were vital in educating delegates on the issues, providing research for the delegates and offering material and moral support for delegates who fought for traditional values. This is especially helpful, Granic said, considering most sympathetic delegates are from countries in the developing world and therefore lack the resources to sustain this fight on their own.
Austin Ruse, President of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), the only full-time pro-life organization at the UN, told The Interim pro-lifers scored “an unqualified victory” at the prepatory meetings because the radical feminists where unsuccessful in their attempt to expand Beijing into much more than it was intended to be. “On explicit language on sexual orientation,” he said, “they lost. On the new term sexual rights, they lost. On expansion of abortion accessibility, they lost. On mandatory abortion training, they lost.”
Granic reported the feminists’ attempts to stifle pro-life and pro-family involvement during the proceedings included shouting down opponents, relocating or rescheduling meetings to exclude opponents, and thwarting the attempts of opponents to speak at meetings.
Furthermore, Canada’s government-supported Humanities and Social Sciences Research Council funded a 40-page booklet that names pro-life and pro-family groups that lobby at the UN. Entitled “Right-Wing Anti-Feminist Groups at the United Nations,” it was a brief for feminists that hysterically warned about pro-life and pro-family activists, including Campaign Life Coalition, REAL Women, and the World Youth Alliance. In a June 10 editorial, the National Post observed, “The blacklist, laden with innuendo, intolerance and factual errors, is a tacit confession of intellectual bankruptcy.”
Granic said feminists and Western delegates don’t want to deal with pro-life groups. She reported a Canadian delegate avoided meeting with her and once she did, dismissed Granic’s concerns that the government was ignoring Canadians with traditional values and who thought a lack of quality health care, educational opportunities and jobs, not abortion and lesbian rights, were the main issues women in the developing world faced.
References to lesbian rights, sex rights for kids, and the promotion of abortion including declaring it a fundamental right and making abortion services mandatory for all medical professionals, were dropped from the final document. Instead, the session concluded with the adoption of a document calling for better education and health care as keys to improving women’s lives. Granic said the final document “was really good because it reflected the real needs of women.” She said the only real disappointment was the failure to get two paragraphs supporting the family included; the issue wasn’t considered because time ran out.
Canadian Secretary of State for the Status of Women Hedy Fry complained about the absence of abortion and homosexuality promotion in the final document. On June 14, she told the UN General Assembly, “We would note that we have made no gains from Beijing on the inherent right of the person to make decisions about her sexual and reproductive life.” Representing the Liberal government, she said “we regret that the document fails to include a more explicit reflection” of homosexual rights.
Gwen Landolt, National Vice President of REAL Women Canada, told The Interim the radical feminist agenda was turned back for two reasons. First, for once, the rules were adhered to. Normally, the UN operates on the principle of consensus – if three countries are opposed to an item, it is defeated. In recent years, committees have rammed through some wording despite opposition. Second, many developing countries are tired of being manipulated and abused by the West. “They are not going to be pushed around anymore,” Landolt said. “They see the feminist agenda as cultural imperialism and they’re fed up.”
Granic said there will be many more battles over these same issues in the near future and pro-life groups are already preparing for meetings on children and housing that will take place next year. Both conferences are expected to push the same radical agenda. As Landolt says, the fight for traditional values at the UN doesn’t end with a victory at one meeting. “Its skirmish after skirmish after skirmish,” she said