The Stalking Horse Named CEDAW

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In ancient times, the men who hunted birds were called “fowlers.” One method they used was to hide behind their horses until they got close enough to capture their prey. That’s where we get our phrase, “stalking horse.” The horse out front is meant to deceive — behind it, lurks an unseen threat.

Today, there are yet fowlers among us.

This week, at the United Nations, a group of fowlers from 23 nations are meeting to assess various nations’ progress on women’s issues.

They are hiding behind a stalking horse named CEDAW, the Convention to End All Discrimination Against Women. While the treaty has been widely adopted in other nations where some of the provisions address human rights issues, there is nothing in the treaty to benefit women in the United States and the enforcement mechanisms are a threat to national sovereignty.

There are inherent dangers in the treaty’s details. Let me begin with a concise summary statement. In a nutshell, there are two major problems with CEDAW the content of the treaty and its implementation: CEDAW’s content is contemporary colonialism; it exports forces down the throats of signee nations its Neo-Marxist agenda. CEDAW’s implementation is through judicial imperialism; a committee of 23 UN-Appointed women determines whether a nation is in compliance with the treaty including whether the laws of the country align with the treaty. What the United Nations hasn’t been able to accomplish through democratic processes, they hope to force by judicial fiat.


With that brief overview, let’s look first, then, very, very briefly at the content of the treaty. Advocates assert that CEDAW is simply “an international bill of rights” that “sets out basic standards for women’s rights” with the clear implication that anyone opposed to the treaty is a misogynist. Further, they claim, ratification by the United States “would not impose a single new requirement in our laws.”

This claim is preposterous. The treaty is a leftist utopian wish list: comparable worth, paid maternity leave, a national network of child care, free maternity-related health care, gender-blind military service, and quota-determined political parity for women. These are all specific requirements in the treaty itself.

Here’s a way to remember why CEDAW must be opposed in terms of its content alone:

C Cultural Colonialism

E — Egregious Enforcement;

D — Dangerous Demands;

A — Abortion and the Homosexual Agenda and

W — Wants of the Elites vs. the Needs of the Needy

First, C: Cultural Colonialism

CEDAW is neo-Marxist contemporary colonialism. At the dawn of the 1900s, British explorer Cecil Rhodes proclaimed: “We must find new lands from which we can easily obtain new materials and at the same time exploit the cheap slave labor that is available. The colonies would also provide a dumping ground for the surplus goods produced in our factories.”

Substitute a political agenda for Rhodes’ economic one and you find the animating spirit of CEDAW. Today’s feminists find themselves with vast storehouses of surplus political goods and bankrupt ideologies that they want to dump on the Third World. As a bonus, the impoverished, oppressed women of underdeveloped countries represent cheap political capital that the radical feminists are hungry to enlist. Having failed to establish their leftist agenda here in the United States, feminists are looking for “new lands” and “new materials.”

Second, E: Egregious Enforcement

Let me give just one illustration of egregious enforcement. As a result of becoming a signatory State to the CEDAW treaty, Australia has already faced challenges to its laws related to family. For example, Australian national law restricts the use of in vitro fertilization technology to married couples. A single woman appealed to the federal court, cited CEDAW, and claimed gender discrimination. She won.

Third, D: Destructive Demands

There is no doubt that there is great suffering endured around the world, and some of it is a result of discrimination. However, the demands that CEDAW makes for addressing this problem, are destructive.

They criticized the country of Slovenia because “less than 30 percent of children under 3 years of age … were in formal day care.”

They criticized Danish men for not doing their share of the family’s housework.

Fourth, A: Abortion, Sexuality and the Homosexual Agenda

Many proponents of the treaty advocate prostitution as a career option for women, and the oversight committee has repeatedly told signatory nations that restricting abortion or prostitution is a violation of its provisions. Further, the committee gave the following directive to Sri Lanka: Be sure women can abort babies with “congenital abnormalities.” Human rights, then, for all women except those with any handicaps. So much for liberal ideals about equality.

And Lastly, W: Wants of Elites; Not Needs of the Needy

CEDAW’s arrogance in promoting a radical feminist agenda over addressing the legitimate concerns of needy women is appalling. Instead of working to provide for sanitation and medical needs, as well as the freedom that brings human dignity, CEDAW focuses on promoting abortion, children’s autonomy from their parents, homosexuality, wage and salary fixing, federally funded day care and leftist ideas about equality and sexual freedom. When women need clean water, CEDAW gives them comparable?worth policies.

Stealth Stalking Campaign

This CEDAW campaign is only the latest battle in a larger struggle. As the United Nations has advanced into this field of private family concerns, under the guise of human rights, they have consistently used a stalking horse strategy. When we go back and look at their statements over the years, you can see the stratagems of Evolution, Progression, and Encroachment:

In 1948, the UN approved the VERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTSdocument that states the obvious, that marriage is between a man and a woman who form a family with that family being the natural and fundamental group unit of society that is entitled to protection by society and the State. Further, the document affirms that motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance.

Fast forward to 1966 and you’ll notice some very significant changes in the next major UN document the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This document calls for “The widest possible protection and assistance” for the family and it again calls the family the “natural and fundamental group unit of society.” However an innocuous sounding, but important modifying clause was added “while it is responsible for the care and education of dependent children.” In other words, family is only important to society as it relates to the care of children. When we get to CEDAW we begin to better comprehend the progression because NOW the role of the family is even further modified and its significance re-defined remember the catch phrase “it takes a village to raise a child?”

Then, in 1981, CEDAW defined “maternity” as a social function and stated unequivocably that the “interest of the children is the primordial consideration.” Note the cumulative effect of one change added to another with these subtle shifts in language. First, family is the basic unit of society, then family is important only when children are dependent upon it; then children are the responsibility of the whole village; now there is a movement that children should be autonomous.

The content of CEDAW is bad for women and bad for the country. But there is more you can begin to see the other dimensions of the problem when you think about the interpretations that the liberal court judges will make in specific cases.

Judicial Imperialism

In a conference workshop, the American Bar Association panel of lawyers casually discussed how CEDAW would be used in court to challenge state and federal laws and policies that they deemed discriminatory.

What the liberals have not been able to market to the American public and achieve through democratically elected representatives, they seek to impose by means of an imperial judicial system.

And with the court-imposed laws, the stakes are high because the problems resulting from their mistakes and misdeeds are much more difficult to remedy. Judicial usurpation of power has gradually increased until now it is breathtaking in its audacity. Robert Bork calls this new regime our “Judicial Oligarchy.” George Will refers to the Justices as “our robed masters.”

The magnitude of the threat posed by erroneous rulings of the Supreme Court was clearly illustrated in both this century and the last. Most historians agree that the Court’s ruling in the Dred Scott case was a major factor in propelling us into Civil war in the Nineteenth Century. But the bloody casualties of that horrific war are dwarfed by comparison to the 30 million plus deaths stemming from the Court’s foolish and fraudulent Roe v. Wade ruling in the Twentieth Century.

Yet the blood spilled in the Nineteenth Century abolished slavery. Today, despite the millions of babies that have been aborted — an American Holocaust whose magnitude exceeds that of Hitler’s by 5 times-the task of eradicating the abomination of abortion still looms before us. Were Lincoln here today, he would doubtless warn us-based on his own bitter travail-of the cost we will pay for this travesty of justice.

If we fail to recognize the strategies of the forces of deception and death, we increase the duration and destruction of their attacks.

They have largely established judicial oligarchy domestically. Now they seek to expand their tyranny internationally through the force of international law. This can be done formally, and informally. Returning to the case of Australia provides an illustration of the informal approach. The goal of Australian feminists is a percentage of women in positions of political influence equal to their percentage in the population. Writing for the Australian Women Lawyers, Hilary Charlesworth described how CEDAW pursues social engineering:

The main method is to try to put pressure on Australia through encouraging the CEDAW Committee to ask Australia questions on this topic when Australia makes its next periodic report under CEDAW. This may sound a rather indirect form of enforcement of the international guarantee, but the usefulness of the technique should not be underestimated.

The CEDAW Assessment Tool

However, enforcement of the CEDAW mandates will not remain informal and “indirect.” The clear intent of activists is to utilize the full force of international law to establish the CEDAW provisions in domestic law. This charge encounters vehement denials from CEDAW supporters, but a recent discovery provides concrete, irrefutable proof:

The American Bar Association released a lengthy document, The CEDAW Assessment Tool (funded entirely by the United States Agency for International Development), to be used to score countries on their compliance with the treaty and to train judges and other legal professionals in CEDAW’s precedence over national law. The ABA also intends for NGOs to use this in lodging complaints and bringing lawsuits against countries’ laws with which they disagree, regardless of public opinion.

In the Assessment Tool, the ABA provides guidance on how national sovereignty is affected by the treaty. On page 80, assessors are instructed to ask, as it relates to Article 2 of the Convention: “Is CEDAW directly applied and given effect in courts as part of national law? What training programs exist to educate judges and other legal professionals about CEDAW’s precedence over national law?” Further, they are to query what “national machinery” has been established, and what portion of the national budget allocated, for implementing CEDAW.

The Optional Protocol

And in another move, CEDAW supporters are trying to expand the treaty’s reach even further by promoting the ratification of an “optional protocol:”

CEDAW’s Optional Protocol allows individuals and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), like the pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Law and Policy, to file complaints against countries and for the Committee to conduct investigations based on those complaints.

Conclusion: Mandate for Strategic Thinking

CEDAW’s danger is real. Conservative thinkers and analysts have marshaled the evidence against the treaty. The evidence, however, does not always win the day. We must build a winning coalition by convincing moderates that CEDAW is about judicial imperialism. We must explain that the key issue is the further intrusions into our lives by un-elected bureaucrats not accountable to the people through elections International United Nations bureaucrats. These are elitists with a radical vision incompatible with the values and wishes of the vast majority of citizens-they espouse a vision of society that they could never sell to the general public. Lacking the ability to prevail through elective processes, they have set about to impose their views through the “unholy alliance” of the Courts and the U.N. who are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to interject their power into the most intimate seams of the fabric of our personal lives.

Sadly, their high-blown rhetoric of human rights and freedom for women is a stalking horse, hiding their radical agenda, which they plan to impose on us all through judicial decree. Let us learn from our Australian friends they informed the U.N. that they would no longer cooperate with the U.N.’s various reporting systems, including reports to the CEDAW oversight Committee.

Let’s keep a sharp lookout this week while the oversight committee does it work at the UN. Let’s expose that “stalking horse” lest we get caught in the fowler’s snare.


Dr. Janice Crouse has been tracking the United Nations since 1994 — both as an Non-Government Organization representative and as an official United States delegate. She has written extensively on United Nations conferences and actions.

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