New York, NY -- The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has announced a plan that will severely restrict non-governmental (NGO) lobbyists at the upcoming ten-year review of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Pro-life lobbyists believe the clampdown is aimed specifically at them.
UNICEF has announced that only two representatives of an NGO may participate at any one time in the governmental meeting. Given the small number of approved pro-life NGOs this limit would severely restrict the number of pro-lifers who can lobby the delegates.
The relationship between UN agencies and pro-life lobbyists has always been uneasy. Many UN bureaucrats and pro-abortion NGOs view pro-life lobbyists as interlopers, at the UN only to stop the progress of women's rights. Attacks from "reproductive rights" supporters at the UN upon pro-life lobbyists have gone on for years.
These battles began years ago at the original Cairo Conference on Population and Development (1994) and flared up to near international-incident status a year later at the Beijing Women's Conference (1995) where pro-lifers were allowed to participate only after the direct intervention of members of US Congress.
Discrimination and dirty tricks have been used frequently against pro-lifers at UN meetings. It is reported that at the Beijing women's conference Timothy Wirth, former US Senator and then US Undersecretary for Global Affairs, told Chinese authorities that a pro-life journalist was a terrorist threat. The Chinese police detained the journalist for several hours.
In the winter of 1998 the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) sponsored a governmental meeting in The Hague to prepare for the five-year review of the Cairo Conference on Population and Development. More than 800 NGOs were allowed to participate, but only six pro-life groups were allowed in the conference. Organizers admitted that UNPFA had placed a quota on pro-life groups.
Pro-life lobbyists have also been roughed up by UN bureaucrats and by staff members of pro-abortion NGOs. Catholic journalist M.J. Anderson says at the Hague meeting she was grabbed by a paid staff member of "Catholics" for a Free Choice.
Jeanne Head, chief lobbyist for National Right to Life Committee charges that at Cairo+5 a UNFPA staff member pushed her from a photocopying machine.
Last spring at Beijing+5, a UN bureaucrat commandeered a private pro-life memo listing the names of all pro-lifers and their affiliations. She insisted the memo would be used only to assist in accreditations. She returned the memo only after the insistence of pro-life attorneys, but within hours the names on the memo were circulating in a flyer distributed all over UN headquarters.
The pressure seems to be increasing after the unexpected pro-life victories at Beijing+5 last spring. Even though outnumbered roughly 7,000 to 30 at the Special Session of the General Assembly, pro-lifers found enough governmental support to stop a wide range of agenda items that would have advanced abortion on demand.
Pro-lifers are confident that they can be effective even with reduced numbers.