UN Women, UNFPA, OHCHR Confirm they Promote Abortion

By Stefano Gennarini, J.D. | July 19, 2018
When I saw a press release announcing UN Women, UNFPA, and OHCHR’s support for an activist judge promoting abortion in Mexico, I could not resist, and fired off a list of questions to the agencies and the secretariat. Here are the questions. Below are the responses
1. Does this intervention not go against the mandate of UN Women from the General Assembly in paragraph 8.25 of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, and paragraph 106 of the Platform for Action of the 4th World Conference on Women?
Specifically, the paragraphs state that intergovernmental organizations are to help women avoid abortions and not interfere in national and local legislative processes involving abortion legislation. I would also point out how this framework was reaffirmed by the General Assembly in the review conferences of Beijing and ICPD, in the 2030 Agenda, and in other recent resolutions.
2. Does this intervention not violate the UN Charter, Article 2.7 prohibiting action by the United Nations in a matter that is essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of states?
3. Even if the intervention of UN Women were legal, do you not think the intervention in this matter was premature given how the decision by the district judge has not been litigated to a conclusion?
4. Were you aware that last year the legislature of Veracruz openly and transparently debated the recommendations about abortion in the Gender Alert that UN Women cites and rejected them democratically?
5. Are you not concerned that this interference and lobbying from UN Women for controversial abortion legislation rejected by the representatives of the people of Veracruz will frustrate the efforts of UN Women on consensual and universally agreed human rights objectives concerning women’s equality?
6. Is UN Women conducting similar lobbying efforts on abortion elsewhere in the world?
7. I have cc’d Ms. Elizabeth Cafferty who works for UN Women in Washington D.C. and Mr. David Vennett, who works for Secretary Guterrez as a liaison with the White House. C-Fam staff met with them both to discuss the positions UN Women takes on abortion internationally in light of our frequent interactions with U.S. appropriators. Ms. Cafferty was adamant UN Women does not promote abortion under the rubric of sexual and reproductive health. She said UN Women only promoted the availability of items such as light bulbs in maternity wards on that score. We also know she made representations of this kind to U.S. congressmen and their staff. Should Ms. Cafferty change her narrative about UN Women and inform U.S. congressmen that UN Women in fact promotes abortion and lobbies governments at all levels to change their abortion laws?
8. Given the United States’ congressional and executive restrictions on funding for groups that promote  or perform abortions, are you not concerned that UN Women may, like UNFPA lose U.S. support?
Here is what the agencies responded. The secretariat did not respond.

Mr. Gennarini

As part of our mandates, at the request of the Federal Government of Mexico, the three agencies work in close collaboration with the legislative, judiciary and executive branches of the United States of Mexico, with full respect for national ownership and leadership.

In line with the international standards on human rights, UN Women, UNFPA and OHCHR are committed to support efforts to improve and realize women´s right to health.

The three agencies do not promote abortion as a method of family planning. The joint press release welcomes a decision by the federal judiciary in Mexico, based on international human rights obligations contracted by the State, as well as national legislation and relevant resolutions of Mexico´s Supreme Court of Justice.

UN Women, UNFPA and OHCHR support women’s and girls’ rights according to their respective mandates and in line with recommendations of CEDAW to which Mexico is a State party, and other human rights mechanisms.

Best regards.