Speech by the Honorable António Guterres

Dear Secretary-General:

As the United Nations (UN) focuses on celebrating its legacy over the past 75 years, including as a campaigner for women for more than a quarter of a century, I write about the US government’s call for “the [UN to] promote and fulfill an agenda that encourages meaningful contributions to women and their communities, and that has a positive and lasting impact on future generations. “I would also like to reiterate the disturbing trend that the UN supports and promotes abortion, especially under the guise of the term ‘sexual and reproductive health.’

Given the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is worrying that the UN’s Global Humanitarian Response Plan (GHRP) is not only a vehicle to promote a morally reprehensible pro-abortion agenda, but also that UN agencies and other aid agencies continue to promote the laws and policies of sovereign member states. A good example is a joint letter dated 22 May 2020 sent to the United States Ambassador to the United Nations Office of the United Nations and other international organizations in Geneva, the Honorable Andrew Bremberg, from the United Nations Office Commissioner for Human Rights; the working group on discrimination against women and girls; the Special Rapporteur on the right of all to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; and the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences. In this letter, the mandate holders condemn the laws and policies of individual U.S. states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas.

The correspondence of the UN mandate holders, which I have attached, is an insult to national sovereignty, as it criticizes the laws and policies of US states, while praising activist judicial rulings that increase access to abortion. During the letter, the mandate holders used the terms ‘abortion’, ‘reproductive health services’, ‘sexual and reproductive health services’ and ‘sexual and reproductive rights’. The message of the letter is loud and clear: the mandate holders believe there is an international ‘right to abortion’ and that sexual and reproductive health care is a means to this ‘right’. It is also clear that they see interference in the national decision-making of the Member States on this issue as part of their role, which sets a serious precedent of anti-sovereignty, pro-abortion activism.

The letter from the UN mandate holders also contradicts the letter I received from you on this subject, dated 1 June 2020, also attached. In response to my concern about the spread of the term “sexual and reproductive health” and its derivatives throughout the GHRP (especially because of their connection to an alleged international “human right to abortion”), you wrote that the UN and its partners the health care described in the GHRP “with full respect for national laws.” Furthermore, you claimed that the plan did not “promote abortion, let alone anyone, and that it was not intended.”

Unfortunately, the content of the letter, which is markedly undermined by the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, both of these claims. The positions set out by the mandate holders prove that my concern about the inclusion of such provisions in the GHRP was fully justified. It is disappointing that the UN continues to contradict itself publicly on this issue. The fundamental problem at stake is that the term “sexual and reproductive health” and its derivatives, despite allegations to the contrary, including yours, have become abbreviated to abortion within the UN and other multilateral forums. One could explain this trend as part of the aggressive promotion of a political agenda by some member states; however, the endorsement of the UN on this agenda shows the apparent lack of impartiality and objectivity of the organization.

In fact, Article 2 (7) of the UN Charter sets out the principle that ‘[n]all contained in the present Charter may authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which fall essentially within the jurisdiction of any State. “I thank you for repeating your commitment to this principle. However, elements within the UN system clearly refuse to adhere to the Charter, thereby undermining the spirit of its intent – as evidenced by the mandate holders’ pro-abortion letter and the ongoing spread of pro-abortion rhetoric within the UN.

The United States is committed to furthering the objectives and principles of the UN Charter, as evidenced by our historical financial and political support for the myriad activities of the organization and its auxiliary bodies. Nevertheless, as President Trump has made clear over the past four years, the UN should not behave like an activist organization by interfering in the internal political deliberations of its member states. President Trump declared that the “future belongs to patriots … to sovereign and independent nations that protect their citizens, respect their neighbors and honor the differences that make each country special and unique.” As such, we cannot stand by and watch the UN try to dictate a politicized agenda that seriously threatens the dignity of man and the human rights of the unborn, while at the same time trampling on the sovereignty of pro-life countries.

Mr Secretary-General, I call on you to undertake a course correction in favor of the UN – one that restores the UN’s respect for the principle contained in Article 2 (7) of its Charter – and I welcome the opportunity to discuss it matters to you. Finally, I reiterate that the United States is ready and willing to work with you in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, and we welcome your steadfast support of our lifelong efforts.

John Barsa
Media Note
Spokesman’s Office
30 October 2020


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