Interventions: Statements of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations
 
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Statement of the Holy See
on the Agreed Conclusions (E.CN.6/2013/…)  

57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women of the United Nations Economic and Social Council

New York, 15 March 2013

Madam Chair,

My delegation wishes to express its thanks to you and your bureau for the effort you have expended during this session of the Commission.

As we reaffirmed in our statement to the Plenary of this session, my delegation remains committed to eliminating the “violence perpetrated against women and girls ... through education, the support of women who are victims to violence; and more widely, to promote a culture of respect for every human being without distinction.” 

Madam Chair,

Although the Agreed Conclusions just adopted contain many useful contributions protecting women and girls, we regret the unfortunate exception of the fundamental rights: to life, liberty and security of person and to freedom of thought, conscience or religion.  This glaring omission is a disturbing, we think, even fatal flaw in an outcome document on violence against women and girls from an institution that was founded in response to the tragedy of untold millions whose right to life, liberty and security of person was mercilessly deprived including on account of their religious practice and belief. Hundreds of thousands in our own times continue to perish in many regions of the world; millions more are displaced and persecuted on account of their religion or belief. These women and girls, it seems, must look in vain to this institution for recognition, assistance and protection. Our response to their suffering is a deafening and uncomprehending silence.

Our document did not hesitate to recognize other important rights from the UDHR – property, movement, equal protection of the law, freedom of expression – but when asked whether women have the fundamental right to life and security of persons, we faltered. It remains a perplexing source of concern to my delegation that some delegations found such fundamental rights so controversial, so unacceptable, that we could not even reaffirm their source documents. While we were able to make progress in some of my delegation’s proposals based on universally recognized rights and freedoms, notably the right to education, the refusal of the final document to recognize the most fundamental right to live and to enjoy security of person renders the recognition of ancillary rights here severely undermined.

For the Holy See this concern is fundamentally linked to the need for a consistent ethic of life and therefore it wishes to place on record its understandings on the following matters in this document:

  • ·         with regard to references to “sexual and reproductive health”, “sexual and reproductive health-care services” and “reproductive rights,” and any other language which the Holy See has expressed its reservations, we reiterates its statement and reservations as set out clearly and more fully in the Report of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, and the Report of the 1995 Fourth World Conference and their respective follow-up Conferences. In particular, my delegation understands, in accordance with the ICPD 1.15, that no new rights were created, that recourse to abortion may never to be had for purposes of family planning (7.24), that abortion is a matter to be determined in accordance with national legislation (8.25).
  • ·         by “gender” my delegation understands to mean “male and female” only, according to the customary and general usage of the term.
  • ·         Regarding “emergency contraception and safe abortion”, the Holy See affirms that human life begins at the moment of conception and that life must be defended and protected. The Holy See can therefore never condone abortion or policies which favour abortion and reiterates that it does not consider abortion or abortion services to be a dimension of health care or health care services and that is no case can an abortion be safe.
  • ·    With regard to references to the family, we understand these references as enshrined in article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as the “rights of a man and a woman to marry and found a family”.

Madam Chair, because this resolution concerns itself not solely with adults but frequently also with girls, who are children, my delegation considers it important to reiterate that anything pertaining to the education of youth requires that the prior right of parents must be fully respected, as enshrined in international instruments (cf. UDHR, Art. 26,3; ICCPR, Art. 18,4; CRC, Art.5).

The Holy See remains deeply committed, through its vast related network of institutions around the globe, to advancing and protecting women from all forms of violence as well as through financial and human efforts worldwide to promoting recognition and respect for the dignity of all women and girls.

We ask that the text of this statement be included in the official records of this meeting.

 I thank you, Madam Chair.


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