U.S. Pressures Benin to Withdraw from Pro-Life Document

By | February 2, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 3 (C-Fam) The Biden Administration has pressured the small country of Benin to remove its name from the Geneva Consensus Declaration, a Trump-era document explaining that abortion is not an international right.

The pressure came during the recent review of Benin’s human rights record under something called the Universal Periodic Review, a venue where governments get to criticize each other on established human rights norms. It has become an avenue used by some countries to advance abortion and the trans/homosexual agenda.

The U.S. statement, delivered by Ambassador Michèle Taylor, urged Benin to recommit to implementing previous UN agreements, like the 1994 International Conference on Population (ICPD) and Development and the “health- and gender-related targets of the Sustainable Development Goals,” as well as Benin’s commitments from the 2019 Nairobi Summit marking the 25th anniversary of the ICPD.  She then told Benin to “withdraw from contradictory joint initiatives like the Geneva Consensus Declaration.”

The declaration, which is currently supported by 37 countries, was first launched in 2020 and led by the U.S. under former President Donald Trump.   One of current President Joe Biden’s first actions upon taking office was to withdraw the U.S. from the declaration.

While it is unsurprising that the pro-abortion Biden administration would seek to distance itself from the Geneva Consensus Declaration, the recommendation to Benin during its turn in the fourth cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is noteworthy.

Valerie Huber, who served as a Special Representative for Global Women’s Health in the Department of Health and Human Services, told the Friday Fax, “I find it astonishing that the U.S. Government would pressure a sovereign country to withdraw from the Geneva Consensus Declaration, an agreement that affirms and quotes the ICPD Program of Action, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is inexcusable to use the influence of the U.S. Government to push ideological agendas under the false guise of promoting human rights.”

Other signatories to the declaration were also reviewed during the ongoing UPR session, including Zambia and Guatemala, but the U.S. did not pressure them to withdraw in its statements to them.  It may be because Benin recently liberalized its abortion laws to greatly expand the grounds under which it is legally permitted.  This was hailed by the International Planned Parenthood Federation’s African division, which said its affiliate in Benin “was directly involved in advocating for change in the abortion law.”

The African affiliate of IPPF receives funding from the U.S. government even though U.S. law dictates that this money cannot be directly used to promote or provide abortions.

While Benin’s decision to liberalize its abortion disappoints pro-lifers, it was the choice of a sovereign government, and it does not contradict the fact that international consensus recognizes that abortion laws are solely for countries to determine and not international bodies.  This was affirmed at ICPD and quoted in the Geneva Consensus Declaration.

For the U.S., membership in the coalition around the declaration will likely become a “political football,” fluctuating back and forth depending on whether Republicans or Democrats hold the White House.

Recommendations made during the Universal Periodic Review are not binding, and it remains to be seen whether Benin will “support” or “note” the U.S.’s request when it provides responses to all the recommendations given during the session.