Opinion: The Cost of Compromise and the Dividends of Defiance at the UN
NEW YORK, December 1 (C-Fam) Last week the small island state of Saint Lucia and African nations threw a wrench into the machinations of the UN system when they added amendments recognizing parental guidance in sex education in three resolutions about children.
We should celebrate this success. But the Africans and their allies have yet to reverse the direction toward which the UN machinery is churning. Despite their best efforts, they could not sanitize the resolutions entirely. All three resolutions also call for the provision of “sexual and reproductive health” to children, defined as young as ten years old. They do so without any caveat or qualification, including allowance for parental authority.
When looking at the broader context of the vote on the parental guidance amendment, we realize just how much the sexual revolution is transforming UN social policy.
Two principal objectives of powerful Western donor states in these resolutions were to legitimize efforts of the UN system to promote “comprehensive sexuality education” and efforts to provide Asian and African girls with contraception and abortion. All of this without parental guidance or consent. UN agencies and their partners have this kind of programming at the ready as part of their efforts to implement the Sustainable Development Goals, and they are simply waiting on UN resolutions to give them normative backing to streamline this into their policies and programs.
The Africans and their allies were able to undermine efforts to legitimize “comprehensive sexuality education” in UN policy at the normative level. But the parental amendment may not be sufficient to derail UN programming on comprehensive sexuality education, as donor states seemed to suggest in statements last week.
Moreover, the amendment applied only to sex education, and not the overall focus of the UN system to mainstream sexual and reproductive health in UN policy and programing.
Merely mentioning “sexual and reproductive health” in resolutions involving children would have been unthinkable until recently.
The entire African Group made a reservation on the Sustainable Development Goals when it transpired that UN agencies were trying to make access to abortion and contraception by children without parental consent a measure of success of the 2030 Agenda. The relentlessness of powerful Western donors and UN agencies appears to have had some effect.
Opposition to this terminology has been eroded in recent years by negotiating fatigue. Abortion groups and the UN system worked to obscure how the terms normally include abortion by definition. And delegates don’t always understand how certain terms in UN resolutions give political and financial support to groups that perform and promote abortion, no matter the intent of governments.
In resolutions they sponsor, European and Latin American are not interested in qualifying “sexual and reproductive health” by reference to previous UN agreements that exclude a right to abortion and other controversial new rights about sexual autonomy. In fact, they fight it tooth and nail, so vested are they in promoting abortion.
By contrast, an African-backed resolution qualified the term “sexual and reproductive health” to exclude abortion rights, and another sponsored by Indonesia and the Philippines did not employ the term at all.
Perhaps these recent developments are a harbinger of more good things to come from the African continent.