Geneva Consensus: Standing for Women and Girls

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Just one year ago, representatives from over thirty nations signed the Geneva Consensus Declaration; those representatives came together in Washington, D.C., to celebrate the first anniversary of the Declaration. Together they recommitted to standing together and counteracting the impositions of governments and international organizations against developing countries.

The purpose of the declaration was to bring countries together and join efforts to secure the highest attainable health standard for women and girls, to reaffirm the role of the family as the foundations of society, and to serve as a source of care and support. It also reasserted the nonexistence of the so-called ‘right’ to abortion within international law and reaffirmed the right of every nation to exercise their own national sovereignty.

At one time, the United States was one of the signatories of the Declaration. In reality, the U.S. once led this incredible effort. One of the Biden Administration’s first actions was to swiftly withdraw from this Declaration. Why? Simply because abortion was not glorified or a part of it. Nevertheless, the number of countries that have joined the declaration has grown to thirty-five because other countries see the need to come together and fight the attempts of the Biden Administration and international organizations to export their radical and liberal agenda across the world.

The Geneva Consensus Declaration is not a binding agreement itself, but the principles contained in it are. The principles stem from the international human rights treaties that have been signed and ratified by the nations. Ratification means the treaty has gone through a process in which the nation’s legislative body has agreed there are no contradictions between the treaty and their nation’s laws. This internal process guarantees respect for the principle of self-determination enshrined in the United Nations (UN) charter.

UN bodies, within the last few decades, have taken a sharp turn away from their founding principles and often misinterpret the provisions contained in treaties previously agreed upon by the countries. Signatories of the Geneva Consensus Declaration released the Declaration to bring clarity to the misintepretations of human rights law, namely the lie that there is an international “right” to abortion.

A perfect example of this grievance is general comment No. 36 in Article 6 on the right to life of The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) made by the Human Rights Committee (HRC), the UN body that monitors the implementation of the ICCPR. Article 6.1 of the ICCPR states that “every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.” Despite the clarity of this provision, the HRC’s interpretation is that “states parties should not introduce new barriers and should remove existing barriers [11] that deny effective access by women and girls to safe and legal abortion.” That is to say, this committee, whose authority is limited to implementing that to which countries have agreed, intends to change the law created by countries and replace it with their own agenda.

In the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021, the U.S. Congress committed the same trespass by stating in its finding that “cofre human rights treaties, ratified by the U.S., protect access to abortion.”In 2018, the UN Human Rights Committee declared that the right to life, enshrined in Article 6 of the ICCPR (above), “at a minimum requires governments to provide safe, legal, and effective access to abortion …”

Similarly, developed countries use international forums like the ones listed above to impose abortion on developing nations by pushing for inclusion of new terms that include abortion, terms such as “sexual and reproductive health and rights.” For instance, during a UN Human Rights Council 43 session last year, the U.K. stated its regret because El Salvador had rejected its recommendation to “review laws criminalizing the use of abortion, ensure access to sexual and reproductive health services and support for all women and girls.”

No committee nor country has been granted authority to create a new obligation upon which countries have not agreed; in doing so, they are eroding each country’s sovereignty. This is another part of what the Geneva Consensus Declaration is – defending the right of the people to choose the laws that will rule their country; without it, democracy is in vain.

In the international community, there is no consensus on abortion, but there is a consensus on the importance of protecting each individual’s right to life. There is a consensus on protecting womens’ and girls’ rights. There is a consensus on national sovereignty and why it should be respected.

Concerned Women for America cares for all of these issues: life, women’s rights, national sovereignty, and particularly, the unborn. We are proud the U.S. once led such an extraordinary effort to protect all of the above. CWA will keep supporting, nationally and internationally, every effort that will promote and protect the dignity of all human life, born and unborn.