CEDAW to Elect New Members in June/Campaign for Pro-Abortion Members Begins

     (NEW YORK – C-FAM)  The controversial compliance committee for the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is preparing to hold elections to fill almost half of its seats. Pro-abortion groups like the International Women's Rights Action Watch (IWRAW) are calling on their members to start lobbying their national governments in an attempt to ensure that only those sympathetic with their views are voted in.

     On June 28, States Parties to CEDAW will elect eleven members of the Committee that will serve four-year terms starting in January 2011. The IWRAW has launched a campaign urging their members to contact member states and United Nations missions to lobby for their candidates. The IWRAW campaign stresses that each CEDAW Committee member "has the potential of advocating for women's rights at many levels" including to "expand and further rights contained in the CEDAW Convention along feminist principles."

     The CEDAW committee is charged with monitoring governments on their compliance with the treaty. According to the convention, committee members are elected by States Parties from among their nationals, but these members serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of any particular State Party. Members of the committee should be "independent" and "of high moral standing and competence."

     Despite the requirement that CEDAW committee members remain "independent," many past and current members of the committee are direct employees or hold advisory positions at such radical non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as the Latin America and Caribbean Committee for the Defense of Women's Rights, the International Council of Women and the Global Fund for Women.

      There are 24 candidates up for election to the committee in June. Nine of the nominees are past or current committee members who are seeking reelection, including three former CEDAW Committee chairs from Turkey, Croatia and Egypt.  Other nominees include activists with ties to pro-abortion NGOs including Philippine nominee Amaryllis Torres, a board member of EnGendeRights, and Nepalese candidate Sapana Pradhan-Malla, a board member of the IWRAW.

     CEDAW critics have become increasingly concerned about the work and composition of the committee. With regularity, the committee has taken it upon itself to pressure nations to liberalize their abortion laws, even though abortion is not mentioned in the CEDAW treaty. The CEDAW Committee created their own "general recommendation" that reads abortion into the text, and in recent years CEDAW committee members have pressured more than 75 nations on their abortion laws.

Just last week the Friday Fax reported on a speech given by Janet Benshoof, one of the co-founders of the pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights, on CEDAW as "radical international law." Benshoof characterized the CEDAW treaty and committee recommendations as "tool[s] for power" which could be used to overturn any abortion restrictions.

     The new members will make their debut at the January CEDAW session in Geneva where they will join colleagues from France, Cuba, Kenya, Jamaica, Finland, India, Spain, Brazil, Romania, Afghanistan and China.

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