Thursday, 28 April 2011

SPUC is determined to hand on political experience to young people

Last week I wrote about twelve courageous national delegations at the United Nations which rejected the use of abortion as an instrument of international policy.

For nearly 20 years, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children has been working at the United Nations in New York, Geneva and elsewhere, lobbying national delegations on behalf of the unborn and on behalf of parental rights as the primary educators of their children. SPUC's lobbyists, and our colleagues in other pro-life groups, have been calling for real help for women, children and men in developing countries - rather than the final solution of abortion promoted by Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton and the new British coalition Government.

SPUC is determined to hand on its political experience to young people. It's the young who are increasingly carrying the pro-life baton and who will go on to win the race to restore respect for human life and the family for future generations yet unborn.

Anne is a young student supporter of SPUC, who worked for the Society as an intern last summer. Anne joined SPUC's lobby at the UN's meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York earlier this year. She sent me the following report:
"Thank you for this wonderful opportunity of going to the UN. I've learnt so much and have met so many remarkable people. I really admire the good work SPUC is doing at the UN. (By the way a group of us from university went to the student conference last month which I believe has inspired more students to be pro active and pro-life.)

"During my internship for SPUC last summer I met Peter Smith, UN representative for SPUC and secretary of SPUC’s Evangelical division. Peter offered me a once in a lifetime opportunity to attend the 55th session on the Commission on the Status of Women, at the UN Headquarters in New York City [28th February- 4th March 2011]. I was thrilled at the prospect of accompanying Peter at the UN and began making travel arrangements without a moment’s delay.

"On my first day at the UN I had the privilege of meeting Jeanne Head, UN representative for National Right to Life, International Right to Life and winner of the prestigious Life Prizes Pro-life award. [Jeanne is pictured at the UN, above, with Pat Buckley, a SPUC lobbyist.] Before becoming the vice president for International Affairs for National Right to Life, Jeanne worked as an obstetric nurse. Jeanne really inspired and encouraged me; she has so much experience, rigour and enthusiasm and is so pro-active in her work. I enjoyed hearing of her triumphs at the UN and I found that even on my first day I was getting a real insight into the inner working of the UN.

"After meeting Jeanne, Peter and I attended a side event on the Yogyakarta Principles. The Yogyakarta Principles apply to sexual orientation and gender identity. Advocators of these principles want them to become part of international human rights law. Before attending this side event, I hadn’t heard of the Yogyakarta Principles. I found the implications of implementing these principles very interesting, especially once I had discovered that there are multiple kinds of gender identity and sexual orientation. The Yogyakarta Principles may even permit the abhorrent acts of bestiality, if this is considered a type of ‘sexual orientation’.

"On Tuesday I attended a negotiation on the working document for this session of the CSW: Access and participation of women and girls to education, science and technology, including for the promotion of women’s equal access to full employment and decent work. It was fascinating to hear delegates from all over the world comment upon, edit and suggest changes to the document that would become UN policy.

"The meticulous attention to detail - language, punctuation and phraseology - shows how thorough and important a document it is. Interestingly, it seemed that the more controversial the paragraph, the faster the chairman urged the discussion to go. By contrast, it seemed as though a disproportionately lengthy amount of time was spent on trivial paragraphs, where delegates would be excessively particular about the usage of commas and other marks of punctuation.

"After negotiations rounded off for lunch, there was a discussion on the prevention of maternal mortality and morbidity. This was of particular interest to me after having learnt about the UN prevention of maternal mortality during my internship for SPUC. The discussion was to primarily address MDG 5 and review the progress from last year. The pro-abortion agenda was quite explicit. The main preventative measure for reducing maternal mortality was to increase sexual reproductive health services [a term which they define as including access to abortion]. It was argued that early childbearing is a key factor of maternal mortality. As a result, they discussed ways to prevent early marriages; the encouragement and retention of girls in school being the main way to deter girls from entering into an early marriage. It was argued that girls who stay in school will make ‘better’ choices about when it is appropriate to marry and how to space their children ... Unfortunately, there didn’t seem to be much discussion about ensuring better pre and post natal care for mothers.

"On Wednesday I accompanied Peter when he went for lunch with Dr Seyed Vahid Karimi, first secretary and delegate for Iran. It was encouraging to meet a high profile figure who was pro-life and positive about the family. Having lunch with Peter and Dr. Karimi made me realise the importance of pro-life NGOs forming alliances with delegates. Being a pro-life presence at the UN encourages and supports pro-life delegates to continue to uphold the pro-life message in a very pressurised environment. Fr. Bene, the delegate from the Holy See was encouraged to see me and other young pro-lifers helping our NGOs and I think our enthusiasm lifted everyone’s spirits. I was glad to meet Fr. Bene and speak to him briefly. He was so committed to his duties as a delegate, attending all of the negotiations up until the small hours of the morning. Despite diligently attending the negotiations, he found the time to greet the Teen Eagles and me. The Teen Eagles were also helping pro-life NGOs and I very much enjoyed their company.

"On Thursday we met with the Ambassador of Namibia; Ambassador Emvula. This added to my ever increasing list of delegates and state figures that I’d met throughout the course of the week. That evening I was to meet the Ambassador of Iran at the Iranian reception.

"In the last two days of my time at the UN, I attended some excellent pro-life side events. We watched the premiere showing of the second Demographic Winter film, which was very insightful and thought provoking. I also attended a side event given by Sharon Slater; president of Family Watch International. This side event was a real eye opener, as the terminology used in UN documents was explained. Sharon highlighted the subtleties in UN language and the way that vague or ambiguous terms can and are used as umbrella terms; so that more can become permissible. I was shocked to learn about the kind of literature that is to be promoted and taught in schools in order for schools to have a “comprehensive sexuality education”. Some of the leaflets were published solely to promote sexual pleasure and rights. These leaflets were very graphic and encouraged sexual exploration, portraying it as some kind of right. Thankfully, Sharon exposes these issues by showing delegates what “comprehensive sexuality education” actually means and how leaflets such as “Healthy, Happy and Hot” are designed for young people, encouraging sexual exploration and activity.

"I am so thankful for having had the opportunity to attend the 55th session on the CSW at the UN. I feel as though my eyes have been opened and I have learnt a lot about how the UN works. I have had the privilege of meeting some very influential people and some truly inspiring pro-life activists who have dedicated their lives to the pro-life cause. I thank Peter Smith and SPUC for giving me this incredible experience and insight and I continue to admire their work."
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