We have addressed a letter to UN Women Agency addressing attempts to exclude pro-life/family organizations/advocates from UN processes. Specifically, we highlight the rejection of pro-life groups from attending the Nairobi Summit and from holding parallel events through NGO/CSW, a surrogate of UN Women and the CSW secretariat.
Pro-life/family organizations/advocates must not be pushed out of the UN debate by UN agencies or by civil society.
The letter copies the Secretary General, the CSW Bureau and the chair of NGO/CSW.
February 18, 2022
Ms. Sima Bahous
Executive Director of UN Women
220 East 42nd Street
New York, NY 10017
cc: H.E. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, H.E. Ms. Mathu Joyini, Ms. Pilar Eugenio, H.E., Ms. Antje Leendertse, Mr. Māris Burbergs, Ms. Hye Ryoung Song, Ms. Houry Geudelekian
Subject: Discrimination against pro-life and pro-family groups by NGO/CSW
Esteemed Ms. Bahous,
As organizations who work to promote the protection of life and the family, we appeal to you to ensure that organizations such as ours are not discriminated against in UN debates.
In recent years several of our organizations have been denied applications for parallel events by NGO/CSW. The only reason ever received as to why NGO/CSW rejected our applications was that our events did not “align with the values” of CSW/NGO. This is a troubling development and a break with the CSW/NGO tradition of openness to a wide ranging and sometimes eclectic diversity of views.
As you know NGO/CSW has been for over two decades a semi-official extension of the CSW secretariat to promote the Commission on the Status of Women among civil society groups and facilitate their participation in the work of the commission. For many years our organizations successfully hosted multiple events through the NGO/CSW, without any objections or questions about the content of our events.
Even though pro-life and pro-family organizations did not endorse the same policies as many organizations who lead NGO/CSW we always felt that a diversity of views was welcomed by the NGO/CSW and that our contributions to the work of the Commission on the Status of Women were worthwhile and valuable. We are sad to report that this no longer appears to be the case. Several of the organizations writing this letter have applied to host parallel events through NGO/CSW and have been rejected multiple times in recent years.
We are even more alarmed that organizations accredited with the United Nations openly called for organizations such as the ones writing this letter to be banned from the CSW debate altogether and to have our ECOSOC status revoked. This took place during a consultation with Mr. Māris Burbergs on how to further enhance the participation of civil society in the working methods of the Commission on the Status of Women.
These organizations are not interested in dialogue and debate. They want to cancel those with whom they disagree. They label organizations such as ours “anti-rights” simply because we stand against the destruction of life in the womb and for protection of the rights of the family. The irony of course is that many of the organizations calling for us to be cancelled and silenced are funded by powerful countries and wealthy philanthropic groups who are already over-represented in UN debates, whereas most organizations who promote pro-life and pro-family values are grass-roots organizations with millions of real constituents who have little visibility in UN debates.
As you know protection of life and family are not outlier values. They are core values for billions of people of good will all around the world. Thirty-four countries signed the Geneva Consensus Declaration on Promoting Women’s Health and Strengthening the Family in October of 2020 (UN Document No. A/75/626). Since then, two more countries have joined the declaration, Russia and Guatemala. These countries represent over 1.6 billion people around the world. Their voices also deserve to be reflected in UN debates and our organizations do their best to do just that.
Sadly, the UN Population Fund set a woeful example in 2019, when it excluded several of our organizations from the Nairobi Summit, even though we were qualified to attend and applied in a timely manner. We hope the UN Women will set a better precedent.
It is entirely unacceptable that a UN agency or its surrogates like NGO/CSW would attempt to cancel and silence an entire sector of civil society. We call on you to do everything within your power to ensure that UN Women and NGO/CSW keep CSW an open forum of respectful and frank debate on the issues dearest to all of us.