Statement of the Holy See
66th session of the United Nations General Assembly
Before the Third Committee
on Item 65(a): The Girl Child
New York, 22 November 2011
My delegation thanks the co-facilitators for having taken into account during the course of the negotiations some of the proposals made by the Holy See.
We are grateful that many issues facing girls have been incorporated into this comprehensive Resolution including, inter alia, prenatal sex selection, female infanticide, female genital mutilation and forced marriage.
Of concern to my delegation, however, is that this Resolution can create a misleading impression that early pregnancy, per se, constitutes a health risk, a fact not supported by the report of the Secretary-General on the girl child (A/66/257) which limited its observations to complications arising during childbirth. In this regard, my delegation emphasizes that what is needed in such cases is prenatal and postnatal healthcare for the mother and her child, especially skilled birth attendants and appropriate emergency obstetric care, as enshrined in Article 24 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
My delegation welcomes in this text the inclusion of the role of parents in the upbringing and development of girls, even though the prior and primary responsibility of their parents is not explicitly cited. In matters concerning the upbringing and development of the child, particularly in the area of attitudes and life skills, the measure of the best interests of the child is guaranteed by parental priority, as enshrined in Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and reaffirmed in Article 18, 1, of the CRC. Without these guarantees, what stands between children and the coercive power of the State in those places where serious human rights violations could be inflicted against them?
The Holy See reaffirms its reservations with the Resolution, especially regarding its references to “sexual and reproductive health” since the Holy See does not consider abortion or abortion services to be a dimension of such terms and regarding the term “family planning” as the Holy See in no way endorses contraception or the use of condoms, either as a family planning measure or in HIV/AIDS prevention programmes.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.