The U.N.’s Bully Pulpit on CEDAW

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United Nations Headquarters, New York City – “There is nowhere in the world where women enjoy greater respect, dignity and freedom than in the United States.”

So said Dr. Janice Crouse, Senior Fellow of the Beverly LaHaye Institute and one of three U.S. delegates at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) Conference. Her remarks came after several countries made “slightly veiled” accusations against the United States for not ratifying CEDAW, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

Cloaked in anti-discrimination rhetoric, CEDAW supports universal abortion-on-demand, promotes federally funded day care, mandates sex education and gender mainstreaming, frowns upon men as heads of households, advocates legalization of prostitution and pushes for children’s autonomy from parental decision-making.

Many delegates to the CSW Conference are pushing for “universal ratification and implementation of CEDAW,” saying “some countries are trying to roll back the calendar on women’s issues.”

Last October, the White House said that while it agrees that invidious discrimination against women should be eradicated, the United States is concerned not only with the text of CEDAW but the record of the CEDAW Committee. Nevertheless, the Bureau of CSW is pushing not only for ratification but “effective implementation” of CEDAW this week, a tactical move some believe could backfire.

“CEDAW’s provisions add nothing to the freedoms women already enjoy in America,” said Dr. Crouse, “and its implementation at an international level by a U.N. committee would be an overwhelming hindrance to its ratification in the United States.”

CSW’s Bureau has submitted a draft of “agreed conclusions” which delegates will spend the next few days hashing out. The most problematic points of such “conclusions” urge, set or require:

“ratification and implementation” of CEDAW;elimination of legislation that discriminates against women by 2005;establishment, strengthening and facilitating support services for victims of violence;using criminal assets to benefit victims of violence;special protection for victims of trafficking under age 18;quotas for media and information technology participation by women;legal, regulatory and financial support for gender equality in media;quotas for the number of female students in media and information technology fields and capacity-building programs;funding for gender equality in media projects and productions as well as for participation in the information society;governments, organizations, U.N. agencies, international financial institutions, and civil society to refrain from invoking custom, tradition or practice in the name of religion or culture to avoid obligations to eliminate violence against women.

Nongovernmental organization (NGO) representatives from the West bristled at that last point.

“The bias at the Bureau of CSW against family, religion and culture – mediums for conveying virtue and values, foundations for creating stable societies, and ties that bind individuals for a sense of belonging and responsibility – reveals itself by singling out these institutions as ones in which violence occurs,” said Wendy Wright, representing Concerned Women for America. “Yet, it is when these institutions break down that individuals, especially women and children, are most likely to become victims of violence.”

She added, “And this draft doesn’t address culprits like women’s organizations that side with powerful men bearing political gifts, like former president Clinton, against women with evidence that the powerful man has sexually harassed and raped them.”

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