- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 13, 2001

The definition of the words "child" and "victim" will be major themes underlying two upcoming conferences hosted by the United Nations. The United Nations Special Session on Children, to be held in New York in September, sounds like it is paved with good intentions. So does the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance to be held in Durban, South Africa in August. However, some pro-life NGOs aren't so sure, and they are gearing up now to ensure their voices are heard in the face of possible U.N. opposition. When the definition of what constitutes a "child" includes only the children who actually make it to birth, and homosexuals become a race with extra rights of their own, the meaning of "human rights" itself could be a victim.

"They would love to keep us out, but we're going to be there," Austin Ruse of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute told The Washington Times yesterday. He noted in a previous report in The Washington Times that at two different U.N. summits, pro-life groups felt sidelined. At one involving 800 NGOs, only six pro-life groups were allowed. At another with 7,000, only 30 were allowed. Freedom House, a New York-based human rights group which has often fought for the rights of Sudanese Christians and animists being bombed and enslaved, also had its accreditation challenged again by Sudan and Cuba. Mary Robinson, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, told The Washington Times that the accreditation was an administrative matter, but Freedom House says it had been accused of violating U.N. rules by allowing those with views opposing the Sudanese government to speak at one of their meetings where U.N. officials were present.

Gay McDougal, who is helping to coordinate NGO participation for the racism conference, thought the fears were unnecessary. "The efforts to date has been to get as many NGOs from as many countries as possible. There hasn't been an issue of blocking or stopping anyone," she said. But victims will not take part in the official part of the program, though they will participate in an unofficial panel. And of Freedom House, she was confidant. "I don't think that there's any question that they'll be able to attend and participate," the executive director of the International Human Rights Law Group said.

Whether they will be listened to is another question. Clinton appointees who have differing views on abortion from the Bush administration are still exerting much influence at U.N. meetings, the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute said. Ambassador Betty King, who was an appointee to the U.N. Economic and Social Council, Margaret Pollack, who heads the Office of Population in the U.S. State Department, and Peggy Kerry, who serves as an NGO liaison officer for the U.S. Mission, are examples of three women who have pushed for abortion rights and are now representing the Bush administration.

It is important that the United Nations does not discriminate against certain victims and children because they do not fall into politically correct categories. The Bush administration should aid this effort as soon as possible by appointing representatives to the United Nations that accurately reflect its views that all lives are worth defending.

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