NEW YORK, FEB. 3, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The United Nations is again at the center of contention over the family and children.
This week U.N. delegates gathered for what was officially dubbed the “Second Substantive Session of the Preparatory Committee” for the Special Session on Children. This Special Session is a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly dedicated to the theme of children and adolescents, to be held here Sept. 19-21.
The September gathering will mark the anniversary of the 1990 World Summit for Children, and the 1989 meeting where the Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted. The United Nations is now preparing a draft document for approval at the September summit. The Preparatory Committee met this week to continue the formulation of this declaration. It will meet again in June.
According to UNICEF, the U.N. body in charge of matters related to children, the upcoming summit is meant to review achievements made in the implementation of the 1990 summit´s declaration and plan of action. It is also hoped that world leaders will develop a plan of action for the protection of children´s rights.
The U.N. and the rights of children
The United Nations´ concept of children´s rights raises substantial doubts, however. UNICEF has been heavily influenced by population controllers and radical feminists. This was evident in the fierce battles between pro-family groups and U.N. radicals in recent conferences to mark the anniversaries of the 1994 Cairo conference on population and the 1995 Beijing meeting on women.
The draft document unveiled this week, “A World Fit for Children,” which is being prepared for the General Assembly, contains various questionable parts.
Article 13, for instance, tries to undermine the concept of the family: “Families today exist in diverse forms.” In previous conferences the United Nations pushed this type of phrase in order to undercut the mom-dad-and-children model of family life. Instead, the plurality-of-forms concept is used to justify homosexual relationships and other variants, all of which, according to the United Nations, have equal validity.
Articles 32 and 34 promote “gender equality” and “gender parity.” This is in line with the radical feminist view that the biological division of male and female is to be substituted by the concept of “gender,” which can be modified or chosen by an individual, thus opening the door to homosexual rights, transsexuals, etc. Article 69 states bluntly: “Gender equality must be a paramount goal of education.”
The phrase “reproductive health” is also promoted, which in U.N. terminology includes abortion. Article 60 insists on “access to quality reproductive health services” for women, which is understood in U.N. circles to include access to contraceptives.
Another area of concern is sex education. Family groups have long feared that the Convention on the Rights of the Child denies parents their legitimate authority and role in this delicate field. The draft document does nothing to allay these fears.
Article 75 speaks of “empowering” adolescents. Article 77 stresses the importance of educating adolescents regarding sexual diseases. But nowhere in this section is there a mention of the role parents should play in the education of their children regarding sexual matters.
Trying to stifle family groups
Given the recent success of pro-family groups at conferences on population and women, U.N. functionaries are gearing up to muzzle any opposition to their plans. In recent issues of its “Friday Fax,” the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute has warned of plans to restrict persons not in line with the official, radical proposals.
The most drastic move is the announcement by UNICEF that only two representatives of nongovernmental organizations may participate at any one time in the meetings. This is a severe blow to pro-life and pro-family NGOs working in the United Nations because they are vastly outnumbered by NGOs that back the radical feminist position.
“Friday Fax” also recently accused UNICEF of manipulating procedural rules to enable groups that support the U.N. positions to more easily send members to the meetings. UNICEF decided to allow two other categories of NGOs to send delegates.
One of these categories is called, unsurprisingly, “UNICEF NGOs.” The other category includes other NGOs that have a “special relationship” with UNICEF. According to the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, pro-life groups report that one such UNICEF NGO has been allowed to accredit 40 people. This same NGO is said to be screening participants to ensure that they are pro-abortion.
Underestimating the family
U.N. press releases said a number of delegates complained that the document was too long and listed too many objectives. The delegate for the Russian Federation, N.V. Tchoulkov, said the proposed text was biased toward promoting children´s rights while insufficiently providing for social and economic conditions. It also underestimated the role of the family in protecting the rights of the child, the Russian added.
In his speech to the gathering last Wednesday, the Vatican´s permanent observer, Archbishop Renato Martino, pleaded for the promotion and protection of the right to life, as well as the human dignity and rights of the child before and after birth. He also asked that the document include the declaration that the family was the basic unit of society and had primary responsibility for the nurturing and protection of children from infancy to adolescence.
The document proposed by UNICEF contains much that can be supported. It justly draws attention to problems such as proverty, lack of educational opportunities, and the sufferings of war. Yet, parts of the text are tainted by the radical ideology so prevalent in the United Nations.
The insistence by radical groups that all U.N. programs must promote abortion, contraception, homosexual rights and an anti-Christian ideology may force Christians to dissociate themselves from many otherwise worthwhile aspects of the U.N.´s work.