Pressure brought to bear on Poland and Nicaragua
at international gatherings

By Anna Halpine
The Interim

In June of this year, the pro-life community registered its greatest victory in over a decade at the “Beijing+5” conference, the five-year review of the international conference on women held by the United Nations in New York. This victory was not without its price however, and as a result of the incredible courage demonstrated by certain government delegations in resisting radical feminist language in the conference document, two governments in particular were targeted for extraordinary tactics of pressure and coercion.

The government of Poland, while negotiating according to their national constitution, was invited to a tribunal-like meeting by the European Union, where representatives from the 15 member states grilled the delegation for over an hour regarding their positions. They were told to conform to the EU positions promoting abortion, sexual orientation, the undefined term “sexual rights,” and sexual and reproductive rights for adolescents without the knowledge or consent of their parents.

Led by the chairman of the European Parliament’s Women’s Rights Committee from Sweden, the Polish delegation was told that refusal to adopt EU language proposals would result in an expulsion from current negotiations underway to establish conditions of membership for Poland within the EU. Notes from the meeting also allege that Poland should be cautious in how she proceeds or she may find herself “isolated” and listed “among such countries as Iran, Sudan, Syria [and] Algeria.”

This meeting was greeted with horror by over 32 Members of the European Parliament who signed a letter denouncing the actions of the European Union and insisting that the EU delegation had no authority to conduct themselves they way they did.

At the same time, the government of Nicaragua received notice from the Scandinavian and Saxon ambassadors to Nicaragua that their definition of gender was unacceptable. This definition, reiterated in a letter issued by the Ministry of the Family on December 12, 1999, states that gender, as used by the government of Nicaragua is to be defined as male and female.

The term gender is currently undefined in official UN documents. Western countries however, led by the Clinton-Gore administration at the original Beijing conference in 1995, refused to define the term as indicating male and female sexes. Instead, these countries have increasingly defined gender to be a socially constructed rather than biological role, and have caused concern that the term could be used to advance an agenda for homosexual rights.

On March 1, just as Beijing+5 negotiations were commencing in New York, a letter signed by four ambassadors (Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Germany), two charge d’affairs (Finland and Holland) and the Coordinator of Central America for the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation was addressed to the Secretary of Economic International Relations and Cooperation for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Nicaragua. The letter requested information and clarification on the position taken by the Minister for the Family in his December 12 letter regarding his statement on gender. The letter then stated:

“As you know, our development cooperation has in general a clear perception of gender and it is founded on the definitions agreed upon at the international conferences. It is for this reason that we are concerned about the new interpretation of these principles.”

The letter goes on to state: “The gender issue has a multidisciplinary character and plays an important role in all sustainable development. According to our principles, the development as well as the cooperation, have their roots in values of equal rights for both men and women. ”

The letter finally closes by stating, “Referring to the above exposed, we respectfully request that you inform us on the status of the above-mentioned letter and confirm to us Nicaragua’s ratification of the agreements of the Beijing Conference.”

At stake was the transfer of promised development funds amounting to millions of dollars, still to be delivered by the scandal-ridden and bureaucracy impeded European Commission. Much of this aid money was promised for relief from the disastrous Hurricane Mitch, which struck Nicaragua in 1998. The National Catholic Register reports that the UN Fund for Population Activities has also withheld $11 million worth of aid from Nicaragua.

During meetings with the Swiss Agency for Development and communications with the Norwegian ambassador, Max Padilla, Minister for the Family, emphasized Nicaragua’s right to use their definition of gender as no international definition for the term as used at the UN exists. Despite this, pressure continued to be placed on Padilla, and on May 30, after refusing a mayoral post offered by the president of Nicaragua, Padilla resigned. Less than 24 hours later, the new Minister of Family Affairs was sworn in: a personal friend of the Norwegian representative who had signed the letter. Before the summer was over, Elida Solarzano, Director of Family Development in the Ministry of Family Affairs and a vocal defender of Nicaragua’s position at the recent Beijing+5 conference in June, had also been forced to resign.

Foreign coercion and international pressure continue to be the hallmarks of international policy creation at the United Nations and around the world. Remarkably, much of this coercion is done in the name of advancing and protecting human rights. Sadly, countries in the West are the perpetrators of this bullying, as they move to impose policy and their new “gender politics” on the developing world.

Until a true respect for the dignity of the person in its entirety is demonstrated amongst equal partners at negotiating tables, talks and promises of human rights remain empty. True human rights will only be achieved when the western nations desist in their new imperialism of culture and ideology and genuinely promote policies and legislation that truly respect the life and dignity of the person.Anna Halpine is president and co-founder of World Youth Alliance