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  • The Latest Priorities of the U.N. Treaty Enforcers

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    U.N. organizations continue to promote abortion and all kinds of new definitions of “rights.” Here’s an update of what they have been pushing over the summer.

    Geneva hosted several of the U.N. treaty bodies for their latest sessions of monitoring states’ compliance with a variety of human rights treaties. The committee on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) held its 55th session in July, and it was followed by the 83rd session of the committee on the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in August. This month the committees created by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) will complete their review sessions.

    Meetings of these treaty bodies are illustrative of much of what is wrong with the U.N. human rights system: Unaccountable technocrats exercise policymaking authority to interpret and apply the language of a treaty. States are obligated to report to the treaty bodies and demonstrate their progress in compliance. More and more, the committees’ recommendations are considered binding upon the states—in spite of their deviation from the treaties’ negotiated language. In fact, the far-reaching rulings of these committees have contributed significantly to U.S. resistance to ratifying CEDAW, CRPD, and CRC.

    Calls for treaty body reform have so far yielded little real change, although the U.N. has begun a review of the process. While many member states favor reining in treaty bodies, a host of nongovernmental organizations have an interest in the status quo. For example, abortion advocates, frustrated in their efforts to create an international right to abortion through negotiated U.N. documents, have met with greater success in advancing sexual and reproductive “rights” through the recommendations of treaty bodies.

    The CEDAW committee urged the Afghanistan state party to “expand the grounds on which abortion is permitted.” It recommended that Cuba “encourage men to share parental responsibilities on an equal footing with women, including by availing themselves of the possibility of taking paternity leave.” It urged the United Kingdom to “consider using more prescriptive temporary special measures [i.e., quotas] to improve the representation of women in the public and private sectors, particularly on company boards.”

    The CERD committee has historically been far reaching and moralistic in its review of state parties, especially the United States. This session opened with a discussion about stopping the spread of so-called hate speech on the Internet.

    The CRPD committee expressed concern that women in El Salvador face “particular restrictions in the context of sexual and reproductive health” and noted its disapproval of the “persistence of a medical approach to disabilities” (as opposed to a more expansive “social” definition of disabilities) in Australia. The ongoings of the CRPD committee ought to be of particular concern to defenders of U.S. sovereignty who are currently fighting against U.S. ratification of CRPD.

    Champions of U.S. sovereignty and fundamental freedoms should stand firm in their opposition to ratifying these controversial treaties and simultaneously work for real reform of the U.N. treaty bodies and human rights apparatus.

    Posted in Capitol Hill, International [slideshow_deploy]

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