UN Experts Deny Wrongdoing Before General Assembly
NEW YORK, October 23 (C-Fam) UN human rights officials and experts were on the defensive for promoting abortion and homosexuality, during their annual visit to the General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York this week.
The Chair of the Human Rights Committee, Argentinian Fabian Salvioli, was visibly rattled by accusations from delegations that the UN committee of human rights experts he leads was seeking to impose new obligations on member states that had never been agreed in UN treaties and of “acting beyond their mandate,” a catchall for any abuse of authority UN officials.
“HRC never acts beyond its mandate! We always act within the range for action established by the treaty”, Salvioli told delegates during the annual visit to the General Assembly of UN experts from Geneva, where the bulk of the organization’s work on human rights takes place.
Salvioli heads a UN committee that records and reviews the implementation of the UN treaty on civil and political rights. Together with the highest UN human rights official, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, he was on the receiving end of the brunt of the criticism.
The visits of Geneva experts and officials to the General Assembly are meant to be friendly informal dialogues to congratulate and affirm the work of the UN bureaucracy on human rights. But inevitably these exchanges become testy because UN bureaucrats frequently push the boundaries of what is acceptable to UN member states.
Salvioli responded to accusations from Nigeria, among other delegations who voiced concerns, that the committee sought to unilaterally expand the obligations of state parties to include “unfettered abortion” and special new rights on the basis of the sexual preferences and behavior of individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual (LGBT).
The Egyptian delegation and the 54 country-strong African Group also made specific accusations.
“Any development of human rights law must take place within open and transparent inter-governmental consultations,” the Egyptians said. “We object to any attempts to codify new norms outside the context of inter-governmental consultations,” they added.
The African group expressed concerns that human rights experts did not respect “national priorities” as well as “social, cultural, and religious” contexts and traditions.
Both Egypt and the Africans urged the human rights experts to refrain from “loose interpretations and generalizations of principles,” and to “refrain from imposing narrow cultural standards”—a veiled reference to the promotion of the social acceptance of homosexuality by UN human rights experts and bureaucrats.
China, Russia, and Belarus were among the delegations who also insisted that the human rights system limit itself to carrying out its mandate without seeking to create new obligations on UN member states, without the authority to do so.
“We have no interest in expanding obligations that are not in the treaty,” Salvioli denied any grand aspirations during the exchange. His committee is currently evaluating whether to manufacture a right to abortion through the UN treaty on civil and political rights.
Zeid also denied any wrongdoing. He insisted that the human rights machinery he heads does not create any new obligations. “These are not obligations we create,” he said. UN member states have repeatedly complained that the human rights machinery is promoting special rights on the basis of sexual preference and behavior without any foundation in binding international law.