The UN Human Rights System’s Stillbirth Scandal

Every day around the world, 800 women and 7,000 children die in childbirth. This is tragic, and rightfully their deaths have garnered attention at the highest levels. Yet 7,100 more children are stillborn every day to devastated parents, but they have been erased from the international agenda. This brief paper examines one of the United Nations entities responsible. 

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Hope for Human Rights: Why the UN General Assembly Must Address Treaty Body Overreach

The UN General Assembly has negotiated and approved ten human rights treaties since the UN system was founded seventy-five years ago. Each treaty establishes a “treaty body” or “monitoring committee” of between twelve and twenty-four experts, tasked by the terms of their respective treaty to monitor and report on the efforts of States to implement the treaties. These treaty bodies have been at the forefront of promoting abortion as a human right, LGBTQI+ rights, sexual autonomy for children, and other divisive policies, all under the rubric of human rights.

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What is UN Development Reform and Why Should We Care?

Since 2017, members of the United Nations organization have been debating and adopting measures to reform the UN development system. The process, like many other UN reform efforts before it, is ostensibly meant to increase the efficiency and responsiveness of UN agencies and programs, but that is not the full picture. 

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What is the real purpose of the Helms Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act?

INTRODUCTION In 1973, the United States Supreme Court decided, in Roe v. Wade, to strike down all laws protecting unborn children from abortion throughout the country. That same year, Congress moved to…

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What is the “unfinished business” of the ICPD?

INTRODUCTION Twenty-five years ago, national leaders, UN representatives, and members of civil society met in Cairo, Egypt for the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD).  The resulting Programme of…

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What is the Universal Periodic Review?

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a relatively new UN human rights mechanism. In its ten-year tenure it has provided a forum for nations to review each other’s human rights records, with input from civil society.

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What Went Wrong with the Human Rights System?

The recent formation of the U.S. Commission on Unalienable Rights is a positive sign in the United States. It shows that there is an increasing awareness that the UN human rights system has gone badly awry. Indeed, something has gone awfully wrong in international human rights discourse.

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What does a right to family planning mean?

INTRODUCTION For more than half a century, advocates have asserted that couples have a human right to family planning— the knowledge and means to determine the timing and spacing of…

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Why Confusion About Family Planning Terminology Could Be Costing Us Billions

INTRODUCTION At international institutions, there is always a politically sensitive, if not controversial, nature to discussions of sex, reproduction, and the family.  Even so, since 1968, some nations have framed…

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What is an International Norm? How is it Created and Why Does it Matter?

INTRODUCTION International debates often center around the concept of “international norms.” The liberal global order is sometimes described as being based on “rules” and “norms.” But what exactly is meant…

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