by Terrence McKeegan, J.D.
GENEVA, November 11 (C-FAM) - A UN panel last week lambasted U.S. human rights policy, as an enormous American delegation traveled to Geneva to endure the dressing down.
The 35 U.S. delegates bore the fury of a periodic review in which UN member states scrutinize a country's human rights record.
The process resulted in no fewer than 228 recommendations for U.S. policy, with many urging the country to ratify a host of controversial treaties and declarations. Others asked the United States to withdraw reservations to treaties the U.S. has ratified.
The U.S. delegation pledged that it remained “strongly committed” to ratifying the CEDAW women’s treaty and a disabilities treaty. The delegation pointed out, though, that ratification required two-thirds approval of the U.S. Senate.
In a policy paper submitted to the review panel, the pro-life group C-FAM argued the most serious human rights issue facing the United States stemmed from the systematic violation of the right to life of unborn children. But except for a mention of C-FAM's position in a summary for the review, the issue of abortion was virtually ignored by the final report of the working group.
In fact, a Norway push to loosen abortion restrictions amounted to the only reference to abortion in the final report. Norway called for removing blanket abortion restrictions on medical care given women and girls who are raped and impregnated amid armed conflict.
The U.S. administration’s emphasis on promoting homosexual “rights” on the international level drew considerable attention during the review.
Some European countries asked about homosexual “rights,” prompting the U.S. delegation to stress its “important initiatives to ensure more robust protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.” They include seeking the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act and the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” military policy.
The size of the U.S. delegation raised eyebrows among some observers, in light of recent press coverage of President Obama’s considerable entourage and expense during his ongoing tour of Asia.
The review, called the Universal Periodic Review, arose from the Obama administration’s highly publicized effort to join the UN Human Rights Council. The Bush administration chose not to participate in the council, citing widespread criticism of its work, which has been similar to the complaints that shuttered its predecessor, the Commission on Human Rights.
Heated debate in the United States has swirled around the question of ratifying many of the UN human rights treaties. The CEDAW women’s treaty has proven a favorite of liberals who support abortion rights but hasn't reached the Senate floor. Treaty critics warn its ratification would incorporate a radical feminist agenda, a view borne out by dozens of non-binding recommendations from the committee that oversees the treaty.
A recent analysis found that the CEDAW committee has pressured at least 80 countries to legalize or liberalize their abortion laws, despite the fact that the treaty is silent on abortion.
Under the Universal Period Review mechanism, UN Member States review the human rights record of each member of the Human Rights Council every four years.
This article reprinted with permission from www.c-fam.org