Pro-Lifers Demand Participation at UN Meeting

By | March 3, 2022

NEW YORK, March 4 (C-Fam) Over four-hundred organizations from around the world have complained to the UN that an upcoming UN forum is blocking pro-life and pro-family groups from participating. A petition with more than 9,000 names will be presented to the UN, and a letter from the U.S. Congress is expected.

The NGO Committee on the Status of Women (NGO/CSW) turned down applications from pro-life and pro-family groups to hold UN parallel events during the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

In the letter, directed to Sima Bahous, Executive Director a UN Woman, organizations from Africa, Asia, Australia, Central America, the Caribbean, and Europe called on UN leadership “to ensure that organizations such as ours are not discriminated against in UN debates.”

The letter was also sent to the UN Secretary General, the diplomatic bureau in charge of the UN Commission on the Status of Women and has been shared widely among UN delegations.

“It is entirely unacceptable that a UN agency or its surrogates like NGO Committee for CSW would attempt to cancel and silence an entire sector of civil society. We call on you to do everything within your power to ensure that UN Women and the NGO Committee for CSW keep the Commission on the Status of Women an open forum of respectful and frank debate on the issues dearest to all of us,” the letter reads.

According to the letter, organizations who had their events turned down were told their values “did not align” with the NGO Committee for CSW, without explaining where these values may be found. The official bylaws and handbooks of the committee do not define what these values are and do not place conditions on hosting events.

Participation in UN debates by non-governmental organizations has been a feature of UN debates since the founding of the United Nations. Non-governmental organizations approved to participate in UN debates can only be blocked in extreme cases of political attacks on countries, ties to criminal activity, or complete failure to engage UN debates, according to UN rules of procedure.

The NGO Committee on the Status of Women is a surrogate for UN Women, the UN agency which acts as the secretariat of the UN conference. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual UN Commission of the Status of Women attracted over 7,000 representatives of non-governmental organizations to the United Nations every March.

The NGO Committee for CSW helps coordinate and organize events that run parallel to the intergovernmental conference at UN headquarters. Events organized and hosted through NGO Committee on the Status of Women are advertised as part of the work of the official UN conference and attended by government delegates and NGO representatives. Over the last two years all events related to the annual UN conference on the status of women have been virtual because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For a long time, the NGO Committee on the Status of Women was a forum open to a wide-ranging and sometimes eclectic diversity of views, including from pro-life and pro-family organizations. Several pro-life and pro-family groups, including groups who are officially accredited with the United Nations, were turned down by the NGO Committee in recent years, raising fears that this is a case of targeted discrimination.

The rejection of pro-life and pro-family groups by the NGO Committee for CSW is not an isolated event. The UN Population Fund excluded pro-life and pro-family organizations from participating at the Nairobi Summit in 2019.

Progressive groups, including groups with links to the Open Society Foundation, have openly called for pro-life and pro-family organizations to be banned from UN debates altogether and to have their ECOSOC status revoked, labelling them “anti-rights.” One coalition of abortion and LGBT rights groups repeated these calls last month, during a consultation with non-governmental organizations about their involvement at the annual UN women’s conference hosted by the Permanent Missions of Denmark and Costa Rica.