For the next eleven days our activism will be focused upon the United Nations Commission On The Status Of Women (UNCSW) and associated women’s Non-Governmental Organizations. Timed to cover the sixty-first session of the UNCSW that commences at UN headquarters, New York from 13 to 24 March 2017.
As our friends and subscribers to our Blog will know we’ve consistently exposed and challenged the UNCSW and women’s NGOs for their refusal to oppose and condemn forced sterilizations. In particular their silence on China’s coercive population control program. Anyone supporting human rights would be troubled that a UN body and NGOs, apparently dedicated to defending and promoting women’s rights, selects to ignore these harrowing violations. Yet that’s precisely what is happening.
Something is very wrong indeed especially when their collective silence and evasion on this issue is in opposition to the findings and concerns of other divisions of the United Nations! Unlike the UNCSW (and @UN_Women) the UN’s Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) is sufficiently concerned about the plight of women suffering under the harrowing realities of China’s population policies to take action. It also is not inhibited to express its concerns:
“In November 2015, the UN Committee against Torture conducted its fifth periodic review of China’s compliance with the Convention.18 In its concluding observations, the Committee stated its concerns about China’s coercive implementation of the population policy, such as coerced sterilization and forced abortion, and the lack of information on investigations into such allegations” (Source: CECC Report 2016).
We would like to thank the UN Committee Against Torture for its concern on this most disturbing of human rights violations and welcome their decision to investigate and challenge the Chinese authorities on this matter. A few months earlier they had requested China’s regime provide information on ‘‘the total number of investigations or prosecutions launched against officials and other persons” with respect to coercion within China’s population program. Responding during October 2015 China’s government failed to furnish the Committee with the relevant data sought by UNCAT. No surprise there then!
This clear refusal to comply with a official UN inquiry into reports of violations imposed by China’s population control program provides further evidence (not that much more be needed) that women in China remain subject to a range of draconian measures that contravene a number of human rights principles and breach the United Nations’ Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (adopted by the Fourth World Conference on Women on 15 September 1995, endorsed by UN General Assembly resolution 50/203 of 22 December 1995).
That document, to which China is a signatory, states that governments which participated in the Fourth World Conference on Women reaffirmed their commitment to: ‘‘Ensure the full implementation of the human rights of women and of the girl child as an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of all human rights and fundamental freedoms; . . .’’ (para. 9) and ‘‘are convinced that . . . [t]he explicit recognition and reaffirmation of the right of all women to control all aspects of their health, in particular their own fertility, is basic to their empowerment; . . .’’ (para. 17).
The UNCSW and its NGOs may be seen across social media and the internet as being deeply motivated to ensure that women are empowered in all sorts of areas, education, employment, social mobility and human rights. Indeed who would oppose such calls. The priority theme for 2017 is ‘economic empowerment’, no doubt limitless energy and arguments will be advanced to champion that cause. However their take on empowerment does not extend to a woman having a right not be forcibly sterilized, they do not advocate what any right-thinking person would consider as constituting a fundamental freedom. Even when their prestigious UN colleagues in the Committee Against Torture document their concerns on the subject and expose the Chinese authorities blatant refusal to cooperate, they remain mute!
Meanwhile the parallel NGO Forum, which runs as ‘Side Events’ over the same dates is hosting a series of meetings, presentations and discussions. These for the most part will mirror the theme of ‘economic empowerment’ but other issues feature, including: ‘intimate partner violence’, ‘violence against women in peacebuilding’, ‘preventing violence against women and girls in the digital age’, ‘femicide/gender related killing of women’, violence against women politicians’, and the global response to ‘eliminating female genital mutilation’. Now while these are worthy causes and to be supported the key point is that the very same community of women’s NGOs that will be actively engaged in such issues, has once again chosen not to give exposure to the forced sterilization of women. Yet those organizations are very aware of those atrocities, especially with regard to China, despite such knowledge they have once more cast a veil of indifference over the subject. This censorship and denial occurs each year at the UNCSW and NGO Forum, making a mockery of the claim that such bodies are committed champions of women’s human rights. If truth be known it is an agenda, or ideology which is being supported, not human rights as a universal principle, hence the politically correct themes and issue selectivity on display.