By Sofia Martinez of the Alliance Defending Freedom
Mexico’s participation during the 47th Session of the Commission on Population and Development left more than a few disappointed.
No one expected that a country considered to be a leader of the Latin American region would offer interventions that represented authentic solutions to development, and were actually in line with the position of the Mexican government. This usually does not occur, as the Permanent Mission of Mexico to the United Nations is for the most part left to function autonomously at the UN in New York City without oversight from Mexico City. Alliances are built, positions are presented, and no one blocks their way, at least not until now.
Given the overwhelming emphasis on sexual and reproductive issues at this Commission, mentions of the Millennium Development Goals, the eradication of poverty, economic growth, primary education, maternal health, work opportunities, migration, environment, and access to clean water and food were all deemed unacceptable by Member States in support of “sexual and reproductive rights”.
Mexico originally belonged to this camp, in large part due to the fact that many of the civil society groups that sought to take an active role within the Mexican delegation espoused this view.
Feminist groups hoped that the Commission would represent a celebratory session—an idea that was reinforced after the Director of Mexico’s National Council for Population openly delivered a position that referenced “sexual and reproductive rights,” “comprehensive sexuality education”, and the Montevideo Consensus—a controversial regional document prepared by these same groups and others from Latin America and the Caribbean, which is non-binding and goes beyond the scope of agreed UN language on abortion and euthanasia.
This out of line statement rapidly was corrected by the Under-Secretary of Population, Migration, and Religious Issues from Mexico’s Secretary of State, Mercedes del Carmen Guillen Vicente, who was crystal clear as to what should be Mexico’s role, not only during this Commission, but in all of its international work. “We will continue to participate actively and positively in the United Nations debate, leaving controversial issues at the national level, where these discussions should ultimately take place,” she stated.
This statement was followed by her intervention during the general plenary of the Commission on behalf of Mexico, where not a single reference to sexual and reproductive issues was made.
Following this intervention, Mexico’s participation in the negotiations of the outcome document for this session, headed by a representative of the Permanent Mission who appeared dissatisfied with the events that had transpired, completely changed. Unlike the coalition of other Latin American countries who insisted on including language from the Montevideo Consensus and continued to push for “sexual and reproductive rights,” Mexico spoke individually, leaving this alliance aside, and proposed positive language, especially on migration, which is of great concern and interest for the country.
The disappointment from feminist groups was evident from that moment and has continued to manifest in the reactions of disapproval toward the Mexican government. Only this week, a federal congresswoman who was part of the Mexican delegation during the Commission spoke on behalf of the entire Mexican feminist movement at an official event organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to complain about Mexico’s conduct.
This disappointment will continue as long as Mexico continues to abide by its national position at the UN to the dismay of groups that view the UN as free space to promote abortion “rights”. The law is not on their side, however— no international human rights treaty contains any reference to “sexual and reproductive rights”. Moreover, the Cairo Program of Action, the original 1994 document upon which this Commission was based, clearly states in paragraph 1.15 that, “while the International Conference on Population and Development does not create any new international human rights, it affirms the application of universally recognized human rights standards to all aspects of population programmes.”
Alliance Defending Freedom is an international Christian legal association dedicated to the protection of religious freedom, life from conception until natural death, and the sanctity of marriage. With more than 40 full time attorneys, 2300 allied lawyers, and having participated in over 500 cases, ADF is a legal advocacy leader in the area of religious liberty. ADF is also accredited with the European Parliament, EU Fundamental Rights Agency, Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe,Organization for American States and has Consultative Status with the United Nations.