Edmund Burke Fellows Insider’s View of the United Nations

By | January 8, 2016

NEW YORK, January 8 (C-Fam) Ambassadors, delegates, and scholars gave 10 students of law and international relations an insider’s view of the United Nations this week during the Edmund Burke Fellowship.

The annual student program run by C-Fam, publisher of the Friday Fax, brings graduate students to New York for a week of lectures and briefings on UN policy and international law, with a special focus of policies and legal developments affecting life and family, as well as looking at the big picture.

“If you want to talk about human rights you have to stop thinking in formulas,” said Professor Jeremy Rabkin of George Mason School of Law, warning against “formulas” and “lists” of human rights handed down by international bureaucrats instead of prudential reasoning and rational deliberation through democratic institutions.

Rabkin also pointed to the unjustified faith placed in a permanent international bureaucracy, a concern echoed by UN delegates that met with the students throughout the week.

Diplomats from the United States, the Holy See, Belarus, Malaysia, and Nigeria, that met with students, all expressed frustration with the powerful UN bureaucracy’s penchant for taking decisions unilaterally without talking sufficiently to member states and taking their views into account.

Delegates from socially conservative countries were thrilled to meet like-minded students from North America, Latin America and Europe that differed in their views on family and life from the current political leadership in their countries. Students from the United States, Canada, Brazil, Sweden, and Peru participated in the program this year.

Delegates pointed to how “dangerous” taking pro-life positions and promoting the natural family had become at the United Nations, in terms of limiting careers. They described the unprecedented political and bureaucratic pressure they feel “every day.” One ambassador told student that taking a stand for the natural family was viewed as a “sign of insubordination” and that like-minded countries and diplomats were being forced to take positions that did not reflect their laws and true convictions.

Scholars from North America, South America, and Europe also spoke to students about the challenges to the pro-life and pro-family cause in international and regional organizations.

Dr. Susan Yoshihara, Director of Research at C-Fam, described how abortion groups and UN agencies have coopted the international human rights system to systematically target children in the womb through abortion. Prof. Teresa Collett of the University of St. Thomas School of Law described the litigation strategy that abortion groups employ nationally and internationally.

Gregor Puppinck of the influential European Center for Law and Justice told students that despite difficulties, pro-life and pro-family advocacy at international institutions was necessary, and could be very effective. Puppinck

Professor Ligia de Jesus of Ave Maria University School of Law told students that the financial support of the United States to promote special new rights for individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual (LGBT) in the inter-American system is taking away attention and resources from long established and respected human rights.

Once back to their schools, the 10 students participating in the program will study and research international law and policy with a view to impacting the debate on social issues at the United Nations and international institutions.