Thursday 12 December 2013

Many of the things the UN does are a threat to human rights

Transcrição integral da entrevista a Austin Ruse, presidente da C-Fam, no inglês original. A notícia encontra-se aqui.

Full transcript of interview with C-Fam's Austin Ruse, in the original English. The news feature can be found here.

What exactly is C-FAM and what work do you do?
C-Fam is a non-governmental organization working almost exclusively at the United Nations. We were founded by the inspiration of John Paul II when he called regular people to go to the Cairo Conference in 1994. The C-Fam founders went to Cairo and then decided to open up a full-time office a few years later.

Our chief work is assisting UN diplomats in negotiating documents, making sure bad language does not get into them regarding life and family, and then telling the wider world what really goes on in the UN.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was a UN initiative. Do you believe it was a negative one?
I would say it was a good initiative. It was heavily influenced by Catholic thinking, it is a universal document that everyone can aspire to. So yes, I would say on balance that it was and remains a good document.

What is your opinion on the role of the UN at the moment, safeguard of human rights, or threat?
I would say that the UN is a net negative in the World today, and I think many of the things they are doing are a threat to genuine human rights. The reason I say that is because it seems to be a manufacturer of new human rights which really don’t exist. The right to homosexual marriage, for instance, the right to abortion. And as you push these new ideas of human rights which don’t exist, you undermine commonly held human rights that people agree to. Political self-determination, freedom of religion, so on and so forth. By advancing human rights that aren’t human rights, they hurt existing human rights. So the UN right now is a very serious problem.

Are there any others you’d like to point out, that people might not be so aware of?
A few years ago there was an effort by the French and German governments to write an international document allowing for cloning, for instance. This was a life issue which was actually defeated and the document issued actually calls for cloning to be banned around the world. But the main ones have to do with reproductive health and reproductive rights and this new phrase sexual orientation and gender identity, which includes a lot of different things, and not just homosexual marriage. So those are the two main ones, reproductive rights, which are used to promote abortion, and sexual orientation and gender identity, which is hotly debated nowadays.

Are the Muslim countries seen as allies in this regard?
Prior to the Cairo conference John Paul II made this call for people of faith to go to Cairo. At the same time he reached out to a number of governments. Largely catholic states, in addition to Muslim states, and he created an inter-governmental alliance which has tattered over the years but still remains, between these different faith groups.

What we have found is that on some issues the Muslims are very good allies. They are not exactly Catholic in their position on abortion, but they do find offence at the way these issues are advanced through international instruments. They believe it is inappropriate for the UN to advance these particular ideas.

So yes, we do work with Muslim states, it’s very effective. So effective that our opponents in the New York Times and the London Times call it the Unholy Alliance, between the Vatican and Muslim states. But it’s been very fruitful as a coalition and a learning experience for both us and the Muslims.

Does this work help Christians in Muslim countries? Or does it make it more difficult for you to put pressure on these countries regarding persecution of Christians?
Well the pro-life and pro-family groups in the UN tend to stay away from the religious freedom issue. Because it is very difficult to beat up on your allies one day and ask them for help the next.

Governmentally the Holy See can do that, and it does, and there are lots of organizations at the UN that push for the rights of Christians who are persecuted in Muslim States, so we tend to stay away from that.

However, we firmly believe that we do that sort of work by lovingly embracing these people on the life issues and showing them a good Christian face, of people who are willing to work with them, love them and become friends with them. We do give aid to our beleaguered brothers and sisters who are under attack by being good Christians to the Muslims we meet in New York.

When a Muslim diplomat shows up in New York for the first time he fully expects that he is going to meet nothing but pimps prostitutes and pornographers. Because that is one of the faces we show to the world. So when they meet Christians who pray, and pray for them, I think it changes their lives.

For those of us unfamiliar with the workings of the UN, how dangerous is it to get this language into a document which might not be binding?
There are documents, treaties and conventions, which are binding. The UN just issued a document in 2006 on persons with disabilities, and it was the first hard law treaty to include the phrase reproductive health. And the committee that oversees that treaty has already redefined reproductive health, in that treaty, to include abortion and has pressured governments to change their laws. When Spain, under Zapatero, changed the laws on abortion, in the law they cited that treaty as justification.

The non-binding documents have an effect as well, because when you put a phrase into a non-binding resolution 100 times, 1000 times, 10.000 times, it seems like reproductive health and reproductive rights are in these documents that many times, it contributes to the drumbeat that there is a new international norm. And the comments of these committees on reproductive health are used by governments. The CEDAW treaty on women’s rights doesn’t mention reproductive health, but the committee has read reproductive health and abortion into the document and governments have changed their laws based on those comments. So all of this contributes to what the left wants to see as a change in international norms, and therefore governments have an obligation to change their laws. So that’s why we do what we do, to counter those arguments, to explain why the arguments are false. A few years ago we issued the San José Articles, an expert document drawn up in San José, Costa Rica, which point by point knocks down the claims of the other side that there are international obligations on reproductive health and rights, and abortion. People can see that on and see the experts that signed the document.

Has Portugal been an ally or an adversary in these issues?
Portugal has always been silent. Which means that largely they are an adversary.

What happens at the UN is that the other side writes the document and we have to chip away at it. Those who remain silent are basically siding with the document. The only way to get bad language out of a document is for governments to speak up or to lend their voice to a coalition that is speaking up, and Portugal has always remained silent.

I don’t remember Portugal ever having spoken out at all, which means that they generally have been on the other side.

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