Several of Ontario’s pro-life young people earned a crash course in international lobbying January 6 during a United Nations training session sponsored by Campaign Life Coalition in Toronto.

Led by Anna Halpine, the president of the New York-based World Youth Alliance, and a former president of Campaign Life Coalition New Brunswick, the training session featured an overview of the need for a pro-life presence at UN forums, coupled with a history of the UN’s deviation from its original humanitarian aims. The workshop also included strategy sessions to help potential lobbyists recognize the misleading language that pro-abortion bureaucrats seek to include in UN documents.

Miss Halpine, 23, said the World Youth Alliance was created to counter the influence of the UN’s “Youth Caucus,” a small group of students and young people who claimed to represent world youth at last year’s “Beijing+5” conference. The Youth Caucus, specially invited to the conference by UNICEF officials, attempted to work such issues as reproductive choice, sexual pleasure, homosexual rights, and diminished parental control into an international proclamation of child rights.

Their efforts were thwarted by the World Youth Alliance, which succeeded in derailing many of the anti-family resolutions proposed in the original documents.

“Beijing+5 was probably the greatest victory in terms of international pro-life lobbying efforts,” Miss Halpine told students at the training session. “Many of the official delegates were relieved to find young people who differed from the radical liberal, left-wing agenda put forward by the Youth Caucus.”

Much of the discussion at the Jan. 6 training session focused on the World Summit on the Rights of the Child, scheduled for next September in New York City. The summit will review the progress of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, which the UN hopes will be adopted by all national governments over the first decade of the new millennium.

Preparation for the children’s rights summit takes on ever greater urgency in light of news that the UNICEF organization recently imposed a two-delegate maximum on all NGOs seeking input for the summit. Because most of the opposition to the UN’s more radical agenda arises through NGOs, the latest move is seen as an attempt to thwart conservative and pro-family influence at the pre-summit level.

Pro-life groups are concerned that without a strong pro-life presence at these international gatherings, the push for abortion, contraception, homosexual rights and other anti-family measures will find greater expression in UN proclamations. While not all UN conventions are binding on member nations, they take on a quasi-legal authority that some governments have used to justify changes to national law.

In addition to Miss Halpine’s input, students attending the training session heard from Campagne Quebec-Vie president Gilles Grondin, and former Campaign Life Coalition director Father Louis Di Rocco. Both were among the earliest voices warning the pro-life community about the lack of accountability at international gatherings, and the efforts by UN agencies to foist the abortion-contraception mentality on developing nations.

Mr. Grondin, a long-serving member of Canada’s foreign service, and a former representative to the UN, told students about the origins of National Security Study Memorandum (NSSM) 200, an American initiative of the early 1970s that advocated “de-population” as an instrument of U.S. foreign policy. Many of the de-population efforts spelled out in NSSM 200 parallel the objectives of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), and the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA).

“Essentially, the NSSM’s doctrinal contention is that you will succeed in reducing the population of the Third World only if you resort to the methods proposed by (Planned Parenthood founder Margaret) Sanger and Sanger’s ‘grandchild,’ the IPPF,” Mr. Grondin said. He also discussed “diplomatic insinuation,” a practice by which wealthy Western nations withhold foreign aid dollars unless Third World countries agree to adopt population control measures, including abortion, contraception and sterilization.

Father Di Rocco, who attended UN conferences in Istanbul, Cairo and New York on behalf of Campaign Life Coalition before his ordination to the priesthood, urged potential lobbyists to thoroughly research previous UN conferences as a key to their preparation. Father Di Rocco said lobbyists should also pay close attention to the language in the conference documents to understand subtle changes in theme and objective. He also urged students to get to know individual conference delegates as an aide in effective lobbying.

Those attending the session were impressed with the wealth of information the pro-life community has unearthed about international conferences. Maria Lobo, a Toronto executive assistant, agreed with Father Di Rocco’s advice about the importance of research in lobbying work. “I’d say doing our homework, coupled with a reliance on our own self-confidence and speaking ability would be key to effective lobbying work at the international level,” Miss Lobo said.

In an interview during the training session, Miss Halpine said that despite the victory at last year’s Beijing +5 conference, pro-life lobbyists at the international level can’t afford to rest on their laurels. She said UNICEF’s efforts to limit the number of representatives on the part of NGOs will require pro-life lobbyists to do more research and to prepare even more carefully.

“UNICEF’s executive director Carol Bellamy has already indicated that the child’s rights conference is an opportunity to promote the pro-choice agenda,” Miss Halpine said. “We want to show that there is another view of young people out there that supports the family and is eager to promote the joy, energy and creativity that children bring to the community.”

Miss Halpine said the World Youth Alliance now numbers close to 100,000 members. While not all can serve as lobbyists, members can use their talent and enthusiasm to promote the pro-life, pro-family agenda at the local and national levels.