Opinion

KOREN: The UN Is Holding An $8 Million Abortion Summit In Africa

(TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Elyssa Koren ADF International

Abortion activists, having failed to obtain their foremost goal of an “international human right” to abortion, are looking to push past consensus at the United Nations by creating a new set of “commitments” that will compel countries to liberalize abortion laws.

Under the auspices of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the U.N. agency dedicated to abortion promotion, and two host countries, Denmark and Kenya, participants will gather in Nairobi for the unveiling of these commitments from Nov. 12-14.

The Nairobi Summit marks 25 years from when the U.N. convened in Cairo to hold the preeminent discussion on all matters relating to population and “reproductive rights.” The Cairo document became the all-encompassing playbook for the progressive agenda at the U.N. and beyond.

And yet, conservatives, having acquired much positive language and many caveats, have maintained that the Cairo outcome document does not further the creation of a human right to abortion — far from it. Hence, in true U.N. fashion, Cairo worked for everyone and no one at the same time.

The big difference this time around is that this is not a real U.N. conference. Whereas Cairo brought together official government representatives at the highest level from every country, Nairobi is focused exclusively on those that support the progressive agenda — both donors and recipients of aid in the areas of “sexual and reproductive health and rights.”

Knowing that the majority of U.N. member states not only continue to endorse Cairo, but also are not willing to go beyond it, progressives have crafted a faux U.N. summit. It will simulate a real U.N. conference, and give the illusion of producing a real outcome, but fails to include the full membership of U.N. states as a legitimate conference requires.

Even the title, the Nairobi Summit on ICPD 25 (the 25th anniversary of Cairo), gives the impression that this is the authentic follow-up to Cairo, rather than an ad-hoc meeting representing a single point of view. Nairobi is not the officially endorsed 25th year anniversary of Cairo, it is simply a meeting about Cairo from a progressive perspective.

There will be no negotiated outcome document at the summit, instead attending countries and other participants will be presented with a pre-set draft of commitments, and encouraged to pledge action and financial support. Supporters have already bestowed 8 million dollars for the holding of the summit. The governments of Norway, Finland, Sweden and Ireland most recently gave $2.2 million.

The holdup for progressives stems from the reality that most governments recognize that Cairo remains the best attempt at an ever-so-tenuous agreement on issues of inherent controversy like abortion. Acutely aware of the hazards of moving beyond this agreement, member states have consistently advocated for keeping this document unchanged and maintain its primacy in development conversations.

Cairo makes clear that abortion is not to be used as a method of family planning, and paints abortion in a negative light. It states unambiguously that abortion laws are to be decided at the domestic level — defending national sovereignty from U.N. imposition. Moreover, it addresses a multitude of other topics ranging from health at large, to nutrition, economics and more, which Nairobi fails to capture entirely.

Each year the U.N. revisits Cairo in an April meeting of member states. Governments have grown increasingly resistant to attempts to deviate from the consensus of 25 years ago. Efforts to introduce radical language have been completely blocked, and three out of the last four meetings have resulted in no outcome document due to pressure from countries to hold true to Cairo. Progressives need a way out if they are to utilize Cairo to further their agenda, and Nairobi presents the perfect solution.

Nairobi is strategically designed to encourage a recommitment to Cairo, which is needed for legitimacy at the U.N., and at the same time to galvanize pledges for radical new commitments that go far beyond anything envisioned 25 years ago. Because Cairo is so clear on abortion, an authentic recommitment to the text would require reasserting principle 8.25, which states that, “measures or changes related to abortion within the health system can only be determined at the national or local level according to the national legislative process.” But, clearly, that flies in the face of all that abortion activists desire.

The Nairobi commitments tout highly contentious calls to “achieve universal access to sexual and reproductive health as a part of universal health coverage.” With regard to youth, they call for “access for adolescents and youth to comprehensive and age-appropriate information, education and adolescent-friendly comprehensive, quality and timely services to be able to make informed choices about their sexuality and reproductive lives” — all of which carry clear implications for the promotion of abortion, the erosion of parental rights, and an overall push for laws and norms that violate integral beliefs regarding sexuality and the family.

In recruiting participants, it has been made clear that the summit is for those interested in the pursuit of this agenda only. In fact, numerous conservative civil society organizations have either been rejected or failed to hear back from conference organizers when registering. Even worse, conservative governments have voiced concerns over difficulty obtaining information about the summit.

A U.N. conference necessitates the full participation of all its members, and no agency of the U.N. has the prerogative to supplant member states in attempting to forge unfounded international commitments. Governments must take a stand against the substance of the Nairobi Summit, but in doing so must also continue to emphasize its fundamental organizational illegitimacy.

Elyssa Koren is director of U.N. advocacy for ADF International (@ADFIntl), a legal group defending religious freedom.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.