Diplomat Charges UN Committees with Misuse of UN Documents
According to an Algerian ambassador, the UN has devised a way to implement an extreme social agenda at odds with what UN Member States have ratified in international treaties. In a paper delivered last week to the World Family Policy Forum, in Provo, Utah, Amina Mesdoua examined the role of UN compliance committees, committees established with the seemingly limited mandate to monitor states’ implementation of treaties. Instead of simply monitoring states’ actions, Mesdoua charges that these committees engage in radical reinterpretations of the treaties, and then demand that states accept these new interpretations, or risk falling out of compliance with the treaties.
Mesdoua believes that the Committee on the Rights of the Child has been especially active in promoting a new interpretation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Committee claims, for example, that the Convention places virtually no age limits on rights. Children of all ages have the right to obtain reproductive and sexual information and services, without parental consent. Children of all ages have the right to obtain legal and medical counseling, without parental consent. Children of all ages have the right to lodge judicial complaints at the national and international level, the right to choose a religion, the right to freedom of association, all without the consent of parents.
The Committee bases its interpretation on the fact that the Convention fails to provide specific ages for the acquisition of these rights. Barring such specificity, the Committee believes, children of every age should enjoy these rights. But Mesdoua argues that this lack of specificity was only intended to allow different countries to establish different age requirements and was never intended by the drafters to undermine all age requirements.
According to Mesdoua, this obvious misreading of the original document is an attempt to further a new conception of family, one not found in the Convention. The Committee is striving for the worldwide “democratization of the family, where the parental responsibilities and guidance will be replaced by dialogue, negotiation and participation of children in all family matters.” Of course, it is doubtful if many of the 191 countries that ratified the Convention knew they were endorsing such an idea.
According to Mesdoua, the Committee employs this argument about specificity inconsistently. For instance, even though the Convention does not explicitly mention the proper age for marriage, the Committee claims that its “general principles” call for raising the age for girls to match that for boys. Thus, the only thing that children of all ages seem incapable of is marriage. “If we analyzed these different comments, they are pleading to raise the age of marriage, but, paradoxically, they want to give all adolescents free access to reproductive health services and family planning,” said Mesdoua.
In light of such Committee actions, UN delegates fear it is impossible for countries to know what they are endorsing when they ratify international treaties. What is more, essential power may no longer rest with those who write treaties, but with those who get to interpret them.
Copyright – C-FAM (Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute).
2001 Meridian Magazine. All Rights Reserved.