Monday 17 May 2010

The UN must not be used to progress totalitarian attacks on parents, children and the unborn

UN Human Rights Council
Vernor Muñoz, the UN Human Rights Council's special rapporteur on the right to education, has requested - worldwide - submissions on the "human right to sexual education" which will be the focus of his annual report to the UN general assembly in 2010. Submissions must be received by this coming Friday, 21st May!

Mr Muñoz particularly wants to hear the opinion of students, teachers and parents.

Leading pro-life politicians around the world will be raising questions as to why there has been such an appalling dearth of information about this major UN initiative.

In the very short time available, if you have recently made a submission on compulsory sex education to a government body, perhaps you would adapt it as necessary and send it in to Mr Muñoz. (See contact details below.)

For many years in Britain, through school-based sex education and relationship programmes, the British government has been pursuing a policy of providing access to abortion and birth control drugs and devices for children under the age of sixteen without parental knowledge or consent. Earlier this year, the British government introduced legislation for compulsory sex and relationships education - from 5 years to 16 years - which was designed to extend such access to abortion for children to every secondary state school in the country. Thankfully the Government's efforts were defeated.

Mr Muñoz writes:
"It is strongly recommended that submissions are made in English or Spanish, due to our limited capacity for translation. However, contributions in any of the UN working language are welcome. Please send contributions to the report by e-mail here, or here.

"In order for the information received to be used for the report of the Special Rapporteur, submission of responses is encouraged as soon as possible and no later than 21 May 2010."
I have emphasised in the text below aspects of Vernor Muñoz's announcement which are particularly worrying for parents who are, according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the primary educators of their children. Mr Muñoz writes:
"The topics to be developed in the report are:

I. Legal framework.
II. Incorporation of Sexual Education in the official curriculum of compulsory education: Inclusion in the official curriculum. Incorporation through plans and projects. Ages in which it is provided. Joint Education of boys and girls Proportional time in relation to the total curriculum. Teacher´s profile.
* III. Incorporation of Sexual Education in teacher´s training: Levels in which teachers are trained regarding Sexual Education Curriculums available.
* IV. Gender Mainstreaming in Sexual Education Outline of contents Gender and Violence Against Women perspective. Non discrimination approach Diversity approach Masculinity.
* V. Obstacles in the implementation of Sexual Education: Barriers from the Governments, such as budget, training, etc. Practices and actors affecting negatively this task. Specific barriers in public policy.
* VI. Best practices.

We welcome and appreciate your cooperation. Vernor Muñoz, Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, Human Rights Council, United Nations, Phone: (506) 2203-5331, Fax: (506) 2203-5331, PO BOX: 1245-1007, Centro Colon, Costa Rica,  e-mail."
William L. Saunders Jnr, the distinguished US attorney and bioethicist, speaking at the Doha International Conference for the Family in Qatar, said:
"Article 16 [of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights] declares: 'The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.' Thus, article 16 recognizes the common sense fact, sometimes overlooked by governments and international organizations, that the family exists prior to the state, is the foundation of the state, and that the state is obligated to protect it.

"Article 16 goes further. It recognizes the right of a man and woman to marry and found a family. In other words, it recognizes that the family is founded ... upon marriage. We can all be thankful the Declaration recognized these fundamental truths."
Listen carefully to William Saunders's explanation of how the Universal Declaration of Human Rights upholds parents as the primary educators of their children. He said:
"Echoing the approach of article 16 [of the Declaration], article 26(3) recognizes that parents are the primary educators of their children. 'Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children' [the article states]. As article 16 recognized the priority to the state of the family founded upon marriage, article 26 recognizes the priority of the wishes of parents regarding the education of their own children over any designs of the state. Remember, per article 16, the State is obligated to protect the family. If the State presumes to usurp the rights of parents to choose the education of their own children, it damages the family, violates its own obligations, and undermines the foundation of a just society and State."
William Saunders underlined the historical significance of the Universal Declaration's insistence on parents as the primary educators of their children by citing Mary Ann Glendon, Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, former US ambassador to the Holy See, and President of the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences. In her authoritative book on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, A World Made New,  Mary Ann Glendon wrote:
"In the article on education [26]...[the drafting committee for the Declaration] made an important change, influenced directly by recollections of the National Socialist regime's efforts to turn Germany's renowned educational system into a mechanism for indoctrinating the young with the government's program.... [A]fter Beaufort of the Netherlands recalled the ways in which German schools had been used to undermine the role of parents, a third paragraph was added: 'Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.'"
William Saunders continued:
"In other words, one of the most important lessons drawn by the framers of the Declaration from the experience of the Second World War was that parental choice in education is a fundamental plank of international peace and security".
Pat Buckley and Peter Smith, SPUC's full-time lobbyists at the United Nations, in Geneva and in New York, are keeping me posted of developments and I will return to this topic soon.

Thankfully, some parents are rebelling against state-imposed sex and relationships education. If you know of any similar examples of parents standing up to defend their rights as the primary educators of their children, please send me details. Pat Buckley and Peter Smith would like to share such stories with UN delegates from many developing nations and Muslim nations who are determined to defend human life and family life in the international arena.

In the meantime, and in the very short time we have, the message needs to be sent to the United Nations that they must not seek to undermine parents as the primary educators of their children through an attack on fundamental human rights language embedded in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  A new totalitarianism is attacking parents, families, the innocence of young people and the lives of unborn children - just as surely as the Nazi regime attacked fundamental human rights in the first part of the last century.

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