Feminists accused of pushing agenda at U.N.

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Feminists are trying to use the United Nations to impose a radical agenda — including legalized prostitution — around the world, a conservative leader said yesterday.

The U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) has become a weapon in the hands of “socialist feminists,” Wendy Wright told a women’s conference at the Heritage Foundation.

CEDAW is “the Equal Rights Amendment on steroids,” said Mrs. Wright, president of Concerned Women for America. “This is getting the U.N. involved in our homes, our families, our marriages.”

Though signed by President Carter in 1979, CEDAW has never been ratified by the Senate, but activists on the U.N. CEDAW committee are using the treaty to enforce an agenda of population control and homosexual rights on other nations, Mrs. Wright said.

The CEDAW committee has “told China they must decriminalize prostitution,” and “told Mexico to change their laws against abortion,” and even told the governments of Muslim nations that they must interpret the Koran according to CEDAW, Mrs. Wright said at the monthly luncheon of the Conservative Women’s Network, co-sponsored by Heritage and the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute.

Furthermore, she said, feminist groups have urged that the International Criminal Court be used “as a way to criminalize offenses against CEDAW.”

“Why did [feminists] get involved with the U.N.? It’s a natural fit,” Mrs. Wright said, describing the “top-down” power of the United Nations as a vehicle for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to press for the implementation of policies favored by feminists as “human rights.”

Feminists “cannot win on their issues democratically,” Mrs. Wright said. “At the U.N., they like to create rights. … They operate under the concept that government creates rights.”

A U.N. spokesman yesterday defended CEDAW as “a legal instrument that is upheld by a large number of member states at the United Nations” and “endorsed by governments running across the political and religious spectrum.”

“The issue of women’s rights is a part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which all nations adhere,” said Farhan Haq, spokesman in the New York office of the U.N. Secretary-General.

CEDAW calls for “full equality between men and women.” In the United States, feminist leaders have blamed Republican conservatives for the Senate’s refusal to ratify CEDAW. Former Sen. Jesse Helms, North Carolina Republican, was a strong opponent of the treaty and in 2002, Rep. Lynn Woolsey, California Democrat, charged that Mr. Helms had “held CEDAW hostage so that women across the globe continued to be victimized and brutalized.”

At the Heritage Foundation yesterday, Mrs. Wright praised John R. Bolton, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, who she said “has had a tremendous effect.” Calling him articulate and outspoken, she said the Senate should vote to confirm Mr. Bolton, whose recess appointment to the U.N. post is due to expire in January.

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