Tags: Conservative | Group | 'Thrilled' | U.S. | Performance | U.N. | Child

Conservative Group 'Thrilled' by U.S. Performance at U.N. Child Conference

Monday, 13 May 2002 12:00 AM

At the urging of the U.S., the phrase "reproductive health services," which conservatives consider a euphemism for abortion, was eliminated from the U.N. document. However, the report also recognizes the significance of previous U.N. documents and conferences where "reproductive health services" were endorsed.

"The Bush administration does not support those other documents," said Crouse, in explaining why the additional reference is irrelevant.

Before the summit, Austin Ruse of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute had hailed the U.S. delegation for opposing a reference in the document recognizing "various forms of family," a phrase that could imply homosexual marriages. But the phrase was kept in the document, and U.S. efforts to define a family as "based on marriage between a man and a woman" were ultimately dropped.

Nevertheless, Crouse, a member of the U.S. delegation to the session, said the "various forms of family" phrase did not necessarily imply acceptance of homosexual marriages. She believes it refers to extended families where grandparents or other relatives care for children.

As negotiations over the document, titled "A World Fit for Children," dragged on through the final day of the conference, the "consensus" of phrases subject to different interpretations was finally reached.

When negotiations over the document were transferred to the German U.N. Mission, the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute accused the Germans of trying to "block" pro-life and pro-family non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from "their normal involvement in the U.N. process."

The Special Session on Children featured more than 60 heads of state and government, 200 parliamentarians from 77 countries, 350 children and young people, and 2,000 NGO representatives.

In arguing for the pro-life position, the United States was aligned with the Vatican and Muslim countries such as Sudan, Iran and Pakistan. "This is the world we live in," said Crouse. "We can't agree with everybody who is on our side."

Clear-cut U.S. victories occurred when the document dropped criticism of using the death penalty against juveniles, added a reference to sexual abstinence, and dropped recognition of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) as an international standard.

The CRC was strongly endorsed by 300 delegates at a "Children's Forum" held in conjunction with the event. They issued a "message to world leaders" urging "a real and effective commitment to the principle of children's rights and applying the Convention on the Rights of the Child to all children."

The message further recommended that children be "actively involved in decision-making at all levels and in planning, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating all matters affecting the rights of the child."

The treaty bans spanking, urges education along U.N. principles, and affirms a right to play.

"I am enormously proud and pleased at what has been accomplished this week," said Carol Bellamy, executive director of UNICEF. "If leaders keep the promises they have made, we can bring about enormous positive change in the world in less than a generation."

Bellamy was placed on the defensive during the conference when the Washington Times reported that

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, who represented the Bush administration at the event, spoke about the need for sexual abstinence among young people. The speech "received tepid applause, in contrast to the significantly greater applause for the previous speaker, who had lambasted Israel and strongly defended Palestine," said Crouse.

Representatives of Arab and other nations used the occasion to denounce Israel or the U.S. Dr. Abdelouahed Belkeziz, secretary-general of the Organization of the Islamic Coanference, lamented "the tragic situation of the Palestinian child at this dreadful time of the repeated, unceasing Israeli attacks in the Palestinian territories."

Dr. Fahad Al-Shagra, the minister of education of Iraq, gave a speech accusing the U.S. of "the crime of the century" in the war on Iraq that he said "surpassed in its horrific consequences what happened in Nagasaki and Hiroshima."

Vilma Espin Guillois, head of the Cuban delegation, denounced the "new world characterized by the U.S. hegemonic superpower, whose great economic strength is not used to improve the quality of life of its citizens in need, but to manufacture sophisticated and horrible devices that kill people."

The Vatican, a permanent observer at the U.N. and a major voice against abortion at the conference, discovered that it now faces increased scrutiny by the world body over the sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy.

A group called Coalition of Concerned Catholics tried to use the session to get an apology from the Vatican.

Catholics for a Free Choice (CFFC), a liberal group, said it would meet with the Committee on the Rights of the Child, a U.N. body that monitors compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), to hold the Vatican accountable for violating the treaty. A CFFC report accuses the Vatican, which ratified the CRC in 1990, of violating several provisions on the welfare of children.

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At the urging of the U.S., the phrase reproductive health services, which conservatives consider a euphemism for abortion, was eliminated from the U.N. document. However, the report also recognizes the significance of previous U.N. documents and conferences where ...
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2002-00-13
Monday, 13 May 2002 12:00 AM
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