This past Nov. 20 marked the 18th anniversary of the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC). As outlined in the November issue of The Interim, many provisions of the convention reflect the anti-family character of the United Nations. To mark the event, UNICEF Canada published a document entitled, “What’s Right for Some.” The report analyzed the impact of the convention on the first generation of Canadians to grow up under it. It speaks of progress and failures of the Canadian government to place children at the forefront of the socio-political agenda.

There has been a significant amount of official discussion around the rights of the child since November. The General Assembly of the UN hosted a three-day plenary meeting devoted to the follow-up of the Outcome of the Special Session on Children, Dec. 10-12 in New York City. Not much debate took place during the event, in which delegations from around the world delivered statements about the progress made by their respective countries on three target areas: health and nutrition, education and literacy and protection of children’s rights. The majority of heads of state and delegates reaffirmed their commitments to implementing the CRC and reported on their respective plans of action to achieve “A World Fit for Children” outcome document adopted by over 180 nations at the conclusion of the 2002 Special Session on Children.

Child delegates, also in attendance, had an opportunity to ask questions to delegations and panel members of various roundtables, yet most of their questions remained unanswered. This call for action and a renewed commitment to putting children first will doubtfully materialize into policy and social change. A representative of the Swedish delegation made a declaration that was of particular concern.

During a roundtable entitled, “Promoting healthy lives and fighting HIV/AIDS,” she mentioned that it was important to educate young women to help them know their rights and make decisions about their sexuality. Although those comments were made during an informal discussion, they are reflective of the agenda that has typically been emerging from the European Union, which generally pushes for sexual and reproductive rights (code for family planning and abortion). Other E.U. members and delegates made similar statements. Sandra, a young delegate from the Netherlands, lamented that “young people under 18 do have sex, but less than 50 per cent use female or male condoms.”

The E.U. successfully manipulates the U.N. agenda, because many of its member countries donate significant amounts of money to developing countries and thus, they have more pull. The U.S. and Somalia are the only two countries that have not yet ratified the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child. The fact that the U.S. currently has a pro-life president is disconcerting for many U.N. member states that are attempting to make abortion a universal human right. Historically, the U.S. appoints the director of UNICEF because it was its main donor.

The U.S. delegation has (mostly) stood its ground in defending life and the family since George W. Bush took office. It’s chair reaffirmed the position of his country when he addressed the General Assembly on Dec. 12. He stated, “The family is the basic unit of society and the first line of defence against many systemic ills. Mothers and fathers have unique contributions to the lives of their children and efforts should be made to strengthen marriages.”

Generally speaking, the event did not introduce any new menace on life and the family, but it made clear to pro-life non-governmental organizations and delegations the need to remain vigilant and monitor U.N activities in order to ensure human dignity is protected.