NEW YORK (C-Fam) The European Union is stealthily backing a UN resolution to declare a human right to “safe abortion.”
Countries are negotiating a resolution that has language calling on states to promote “the human rights of all women” including through “safe abortion where such services are permitted by national law.”
While the language is ambiguous on the exact legal status of abortion in international law, it would squarely put abortion under the category of international human rights in a General Assembly resolution for the first time.
Japan has been coordinating negotiations of the resolution for over a month, but insiders have told the Friday Fax that the European Union delegation is behind the initiative and is not taking a leading role to be free to negotiate more aggressively and let Japan play the role of moderator.
Until now no UN resolution has ever considered abortion a human rights issue. The only times abortion has been mentioned in non-binding UN resolutions is with a caveat giving due regard to national legislation or referring to the International Conference on Population and Development.
These caveats ensured that abortion could not be considered a human rights issue, and that every country should adopt its own abortion laws without international agencies meddling in their internal affairs, but they are increasingly being challenged by new ambiguities introduced in UN resolutions by Western delegations.
Diplomats of the European Union do not have a mandate to promote abortion in international organizations like the United Nations. By allowing Japan to be the sponsor of the resolution, EU diplomats avoided the necessity of finding consensus within the EU negotiating bloc and are able to negotiate the resolution more aggressively to fend off attempts to remove pro-abortion language as well as homosexual and transgender issues.
The twenty-seven EU member states have a great variety of abortion regimes. Before the EU diplomatic machinery can take up an issue, all twenty-seven member states must agree on a unified foreign policy position. Malta, Poland, Hungary, and other European countries have highly protective laws of the unborn, including in their constitution. They would likely veto any explicit attempt to promote abortion as a right.
EU diplomats nevertheless promote abortion under the guise of promoting “sexual and reproductive health and rights”, which is a core component of EU human rights foreign policy. Every year the Foreign Ministers of the European Union adopt agreements instructing EU diplomats at the United Nations to promote “sexual and reproductive health and rights” in their human rights engagements.
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The resolution, ostensibly about addressing sexual violence, is also being used to streamline policies to address “gender-based violence” in international and national policies to deal with sexual violence. The term “gender-based violence” is a term of art that focuses on the intention of the perpetrator as opposed to the sexual nature of the crime. Several UN agencies define policies to address “gender-based violence” as including social acceptance of homosexuality and affirmation of individuals who identify as transgender.
The UN refugee agency, for example defines gender-based violence as “the violence perpetrated against women, girls, men and boys with diverse sexual orientations and gender identities as well as non-binary individuals because it is driven by a desire to punish those seen as defying gender norms.”
Editor's note: Stefano Gennarini writes for C-Fam. This article first appeared in the Friday Fax, an internet report published weekly by C-Fam (Center for Family & Human Rights), a New York and Washington DC-based research institute. This article appears with permission.