For many years those of us in the UN pro-life movement have
focused on the documents under negotiation and you might say we have missed the
forest for the trees. This is an American expression that means that we have
focused on details and missed the larger picture.
What I will describe in this talk is the larger picture,
which is that UN radicals in alliance with radical lawyers and judges and other
advocates around the world are attempting the greatest power grab the world has
even known. They seek to decide for all mankind the most intimate details of
peoples lives and they are determined to do this from their lofty and elite
perches at the UN in New York, at the European Union in Brussels and other
centers of international power.
In order to achieve this they must also remake the
international system. Where once international relations meant relations between
and among states, it now means international bodies interfering with the lives
of individuals. Where once sovereign states determined what was best for the
people within their borders, the transnational progressives seek to usurp this
power from the states and from the people.
What we face is a tsunamic change in social policy and in
the international system. The result of this is a monumental democratic
deficit. Ask yourself, who is your representative at the United Nations? The
fact that none of you can do so points up this huge democratic deficit because
it is these people who have taken it upon themselves to direct your intimate
This is the big picture and it strikes at all families all
over the world and it strikes at all countries, too, north and south, east and
west, rich and poor. We are all in this fight together.
The pro-life and pro-family coalition at the UN began our
work during the preparatory phase of the Cairo Conference on Population and
Development in 1994.
Our opponents began at that time to advance a right to
abortion in UN documents. At first they tried to get an explicit right to
abortion. They were defeated at Cairo and at subsequent UN conference by a
coalition of Christians and Muslims that was created by Pope John Paul II.
Because this great alliance defeated radical efforts to
make abortion a universal right, they began an extended effort at lying and
trickery. They created code words chief among them “reproductive health.” From
the time of Cairo to this very day, they have successfully placed “reproductive
health” or “reproductive rights” into countless UN documents.
The most important thing to know about this phrase is that
it has never been defined by governments to include a right to abortion.
Our sophistication on this question has grown significantly
since those days. Over the years we came to know their intentions in adding this
phrase to non-binding UN documents and this is what we call the “soft law
SOFT LAW STRATEGY
Soft law refers to efforts by international radicals to
advance an idea known as customary international law. Customary international
law is law that is not necessarily written down but that is understood over time
to bind states nonetheless. This is achieved through long-standing universal
state practice with the understanding of legal obligation. In order for
customary law to emerge two things must be present. First, there must be uniform
universal state practice. This means that all countries must practice this.
Second, this practice must have gone on for a long time. It cannot happen over
night or even over a few decades. Third, the states must practice it based on
their understanding that they have a legal obligation to do so. This is a very
high bar and explains why there are so few items considered as customary
international law. One of them is safe passage of diplomats. Another is piracy.
Proponents of abortion make the case that the if the phrase
“reproductive health” is repeated enough times in non-binding UN documents then
a customary international law has been achieved. Let me make clear that this is
false and our opponents know it is false.
Customary international law cannot be established from
non-binding documents and neither can it be established in only 15 years. It
takes decades and even centuries.
They have not been successful in any courts of law or parliament with their
arguments from customary international law.
Which brings us to what has become a more successful
strategy that we call the “hard law strategy.”
HARD LAW STRATEGY
The second thing we noticed over time is the aggressive
pro-abortion nature of the deliberations of various UN committees charged with
monitoring compliance with hard law human rights treaties. All hard law treaties
have such committees before which governments must appear periodically to report
on how they are implementing the treaty.
Twelve years ago we began monitoring the Committee charged
with monitoring the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination
Against Women. What we noticed was the committee was telling governments that
appeared before it that they had to change their laws on abortion.
It should be noted that, once more, this committee has no
authority to make governments do anything. It should also be noted that the
CEDAW treaty does not even mention abortion. It does not even mention the code
word that is used to mean abortion, “reproductive health.”
Still, over the years, we have counted that the committee
has asked more than 90 countries to change their laws on abortion.
How can they do this and what is their purpose?
The CEDAW committee is made up of 22 individuals who are
nominated and voted upon by states parties to the treaty. They do not represent
governments. Once they are elected they are beholden to no one but themselves.
These 22 come mostly from left wing groups who are also abortion advocates. What
we have here is the specter of sovereign states parties having to report to
individuals; most of them hard left advocates for abortion.
Besides berating governments, this group of individuals ---
private citizens --- has taken it upon themselves to rewrite the treaty under
Let’s linger on that a moment longer. This is a hard law
treaty. It is legally binding on states that ratify it. Sovereign states work
sometimes for years to negotiate such treaties. These states generally have to
take these treaties before their Parliaments to gain ratification. This is a
long and laborious and profoundly democratic process. In the end, the
hard-fought treaty binds the states legally. Yet here is a group of
ideologically driven private citizens who have taken it upon themselves to
rewrite hard law treaties and then try to enforce this reinterpretation on the
Here is specifically what the CEDAW committee has done. The
CEDAW Treaty is silent on abortion. It does not even mention it. It does not
even mention reproductive health. But, in something called General
Recommendation 24 the CEDAW committee of private citizens has read abortion into
the document and now routinely tells governments they must change their laws on
This strikes right at the heart of the democratic process.
The citizens of a sovereign state are generally content that their government
can represent their wishes and their best interests. This citizen allows their
government to negotiate treaties that are then binding on the state and
sometimes the citizen. This citizen at least has a chance to affect the policies
of his own government. But how does this citizen have any chance to affect the
processes of the CEDAW committee, a largely unknown group of private citizens
answerable to no one but themselves. This is what is a profound democratic
What of the affect of these rulings by the CEDAW Committee?
Does anyone listen? Do their rulings have any affect on the law? Yes, they do.
They certainly do.
In recent months the High Court of Colombia has overturned
their country's laws outlawing abortion and in the process cited what they
considered to be treaty obligations under CEDAW. Judges of the Mexican Supreme
Court have determined the same thing, that there are treaty obligations under
CEDAW to overturn laws against abortion.
The human rights group Amnesty International, which used to
believe otherwise, now has this same position, that CEDAW requires that
abortion be legalized.
This argument is now on the march across the globe and it
does not come just from the CEDAW treaty but also from the International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights where the “right to life”
clause is now interpreted by radical lawyers as including a right to abortion.
It is not just the cause of the unborn that is threatened
by these radical reinterpretations of hard law treaties. Radical homosexual
groups along with UN representatives now interpret international treaties as
including sexual orientation and gender identity as categories of
nondiscrimination just like sex, race, religion, national origin and the other
well-established categories. UN committees will soon begin directing states to
mandate homosexual marriage, homosexual adoption and the teaching of homosexual
propaganda to little children.
One must not think that these outrageous maneuvers affect
only countries in the developing world. It is happening in the developed world,
too. In fact, it has happened in the United States. A few years ago the US
Supreme Court made homosexual sodomy a constitutional right. In doing so, the
Supreme Court referred to new international norms and to rulings of the European
Court of Human Rights.
When the US Supreme court overturned the death penalty for
those whose crime was committed as a juvenile, the Court cited the Convention on
the rights of the Child, a treaty that the US has not even ratified.
Some members of the US Supreme Court have pledged to
continue this practice of referring to documents and treaties that the US has
not ratified yet they believe are new international norms.
This hard law strategy of the hard left in fact is and will
affect every country in the world.
What we are talking about is something called Global
Governance. Through the use of soft law, and hard law there is a lattice of new
norms that are being forced upon governments and upon people. These new norms
have never been officially decided or voted upon. They are reached through
treachery, lies, deceit and raw power. This is being perpetrated by a group that
quite confidently calls themselves transnational progressives. They do not
believe in the democratic process. They believe in their own superiority. They
believe they know better than democratically elected officials and they
certainly know better than mothers and fathers and other citizens around the
The big picture is that they are moving on many fronts.
They are moving on the UN front through the drafting of documents, hard and
soft, and then through the interpretation of these documents. They are moving
through the court systems around the world and imposing legal changes based on
these reinterpretations of hard law treaties and non-binding resolutions.
We are born with a part of the natural law but only a part.
The rest of the law is given to us by our sole teachers; Church, state, and
family. If any one of them goes wrong we may be harmed. If all of them go wrong
we will be utterly lost. Yet each of these three sacred sovereignties are under
assault by the transnational progressives who properly understand that each of
these institutions properly understood is a bulwark against the radical project
of remaking man and the international system.
And here are the stakes. They cannot get any higher.
God called us into this time and this place for a purpose
and it was not for a life of ease. He called us into this time and this place,
which is a time of great tumult. He called us into this time and place to defend
his creation from those who would sully it. There is no finer time to be alive
than right now for there has never been a time when good men and women were so
Go forth, my friends, go forth. Defend your countries.
Defend your Churches. Defend your families. Defeat the radicals in the courts;
defeat them in the Parliaments; defeat them in the universities; defeat them in
the international institutions. Go forth.