The influence of the United Nations, International and European Policies on the Family


The influence of the United Nations, International and European Policies on the Family: Effects on Developed Nations

By Austin Ruse, Ph.D.
Amsterdam, August 10, 2009



Austin Ruse holds degrees in Journalism and Political Science and an Honorary Doctorate. He is president of the New York-based
Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute and the Washington, D.C.-based Culture of Life Foundation.
Austin Ruse or his team have participated in every major UN social policy negotiation since 1997 including the multi-year negotiations that created the International Criminal Court.
He has briefed members of the U.S. House and Senate on U.N. matters, as well as briefing White House and National Security Council staff. Ruse has also briefed senior government officials, journalists, Church and non-governmental leaders from around the world. There is more information at Austin Ruse.
This speech was delivered at the World Congress of Families V, Amsterdam, Netherlands August 10 - 12 2009. It is reproduced here by the special consent of its author.


For many years those of us in the UN pro-life and pro-family movement have focused on the documents under negotiation and you might say we have missed the forest for the trees. This is an American expression that means that we have focused on details and missed the larger picture.


It is true that we have been successful in stopping abortion from becoming an international human right and we have largely stopped the homosexual movement. As large as these issues are, there are still larger issues at the UN that we have almost missed.


What I will describe in this talk is the larger picture, which is that UN radicals in alliance with radical lawyers and judges and other advocates around the world are attempting the greatest power grab the world has even known. They seek to decide for all mankind the most intimate details of peoples lives and they are determined to do this from their lofty and elite perches at the UN in New York, at the European Union in Brussels and other centers of international power.


In order to achieve this they must also remake the international system. Where once international relations meant relations between and among states, it now means international bodies interfering with the lives of individuals. Where once sovereign states determined what was best for the people within their borders, the trans-national progressives seek to usurp this power from the states and from the people.


What we face is a tsunamic change in social policy and in the international system.  The result of this is a monumental democratic deficit. Ask yourself, who is your representative at the United Nations? The fact that none of you can do so points up this huge democratic deficit because it is these people who have taken it upon themselves to direct your intimate lives.


This is the big picture and it strikes at all families all over the world and it strikes at all countries, too, north and south, east and west, rich and poor. We are all in this fight together.


The pro-life and pro-family coalition at the UN began our work during the preparatory phase of the Cairo Conference on Population and Development in 1994.


Our opponents began at that time to advance a right to abortion in UN documents. At first they tried to get an explicit right to abortion. They were defeated at Cairo and at subsequent UN conference by a coalition of Christians and Muslims that was created by Pope John Paul II.


Because this great alliance defeated radical efforts to make abortion a universal right, they began an extended effort to advance their agenda through lying and trickery. They created code words such as “reproductive health.” From the time of Cairo to this very day, they have successfully place “reproductive health” or “reproductive rights” into countless UN documents.


The most important thing to know about this phrase is that it has never been defined by governments to include a right to abortion.


Our sophistication on this question has grown significantly since those days. Over the years we came to know their intentions in adding this phrase to non-binding UN documents and this is what we call the “soft law strategy.”




Soft law refers to efforts by international radicals to advance an idea known as customary international law. Customary international law is law that is not necessarily written down but that is understood over time to bind states nonetheless. This is achieved through long-standing universal state practice with the understanding of legal obligation. In order for customary law to emerge three things must be present. First, there must be uniform universal state practice. This means that all countries must practice this.  Second, this practice must have gone on for a long time. It cannot happen over night over even over a few decades. Third, the states must practice it based on their understanding that they have a legal obligation to do so. This is a very high bar and explains why there are so few items considered as customary international law. One of them is safe passage of diplomats. Another is piracy.


Proponents of abortion make the case that the if the phrase “reproductive health” is repeated enough times in non-binding UN documents then a customary international law has been achieved.  Let me make clear that this is false and our opponents know it is false.


Customary international law cannot be established from non-binding documents and neither can it be established in only 15 years. It takes decades and even centuries.

They have not been successful in any courts of law or parliament with their arguments from customary international law.


Which brings us to what has become a more successful strategy that we call the “hard law strategy.”




The second thing we noticed over time is the aggressive pro-abortion nature of the deliberations of various UN committees charged with monitoring compliance with hard law human rights treaties. All hard law treaties have committees before which government must appear periodically to report on how they are implementing the treaty.


Twelve years ago we began monitoring the Committee charged with monitoring the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. What we noticed was the committee was telling governments that they had to change their laws on abortion.


It should be noted that this committee has no authority to make governments do anything. It should also be noted that the CEDAW treaty does not even mention abortion. It does not even mention that code word that is used to mean abortion, “reproductive health.”


Still, over the years, we have counted that the committee has directed more than 90 countries to change their laws on abortion.


How can they do this and what is their purpose?


The CEDAW committee is made up of 22 individuals who are nominated and voted upon by states parties to the treaty. They do not represent governments. Once they are elected they are beholden to no one but themselves.  These 22 come mostly from left wing groups who are also abortion advocates. What we have here is the specter of sovereign states parties having to report to individuals; most of them hard left advocates for abortion.


Besides berating governments, this group of individuals --- private citizens --- has taken it upon themselves to rewrite the treaty under review.


Let’s linger on that a moment longer. CEDAW is a hard law treaty. It is legally binding on states that ratify it. Sovereign states work sometimes for years to negotiate such treaties. These states generally have to take these treaties before their Parliaments to gain ratification. This is a long and laborious and largely democratic process. In the end, the hard-fought treaty binds the states legally. Yet with this committee there is a group of ideologically driven private citizens who have taken it upon themselves to rewrite hard law treaties and then try to enforce this reinterpretation on the sovereign states that negotiated the treaty in the first place.


Here is specifically what the CEDAW committee has done. The CEDAW Treaty is silent on abortion. It does not even mention it. It does not even mention reproductive health. But, in something called General Recommendation 24 the CEDAW committee of private citizens has read abortion into the document and now routinely tells governments they must change their laws on abortion.


This strikes right at the heart of the democratic process. The citizens of a sovereign state are generally content that their government can and do represent their wishes and their best interests. This citizen allows his government to negotiate treaties that are then binding on the state and sometimes the citizen. This citizen at least has a chance to affect the policies of his own government. But how does this citizen have any chance to affect the processes of the CEDAW committee, a largely unknown group of private citizens answerable to no one but themselves. This is a profound democratic deficit.


What of the affect of these rulings by the CEDAW Committee? Does anyone listen? Do their rulings have any affect on the law? Yes, they do. They certainly do.


In recent months the High Court of Colombia has overturned their counties laws outlawing abortion and in the process cited what they considered to be treaty obligations under CEDAW. Judges of the Mexican Supreme Court have determined the same thing, that there are treaty obligations under CEDAW to overturn laws against abortion.


The human rights group Amnesty International, which used to believe otherwise, now holds this same position, that CEDAW requires that abortion be legalized.


All of this is a lie.


This argument is now on the march across the globe and it does not come just from the CEDAW treaty but also from the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights where the “right to life” clause is now interpreted by radical lawyers as including a right to abortion.


It is not just the cause of the unborn that is threatened by these radical reinterpretations of hard law treaties. Radical homosexual groups along with UN representatives now interpret international treaties as including sexual orientation and gender identity as categories of nondiscrimination just like sex, race, religion, national origin and the other well-established categories. UN committees will soon begin directing states to mandate homosexual marriage, homosexual adoption and the teaching of homosexual propaganda to little children. 



One must not think that these outrageous maneuvers affect only countries in the developing world. It is happening in the developed world, too. In fact, it has happened in the United States. A few years ago the US Supreme Court made homosexual sodomy a constitutional right. In doing so, the Supreme Court referred to so-called new international norms and to rulings of the European Court of Human Rights.


When the US Supreme court overturned the death penalty for those whose crime was committed as a juvenile, the Court cited the Convention on the rights of the Child, a treaty that the US has not even ratified.


Some members of the US Supreme Court have pledged to continue this practice of referring to documents and treaties that the US has not ratified yet they believe are new international norms.


This hard law strategy of the hard left in fact is and will affect every country in the world.






What we are talking about is something called Global Governance. Through the use of soft law, and hard law there is a lattice of new norms that are being forced upon governments and upon people. These new norms have never been officially decided or voted upon. They are reached through treachery, lies, deceit and raw power. This is being perpetrated by a group that quite confidently call themselves transnational progressives. They do not believe in the democratic process. They believe in their own superiority. They believe they know better than democratically elected officials and they certainly know better than mothers and fathers and other citizens around the world.


The big picture is that they are moving on many fronts. They are moving on the UN front through the drafting of documents, hard and soft, and then through the interpretation of these documents. They are moving through the court systems around the world and imposing legal changes based on these reinterpretations of hard law treaties and non-binding resolutions.


Why doest this matter?


This war is being waged against three sacred sovereignties; the sovereignty of the nation, the sovereignty of the Church, and the sovereignty of the family. We will stand before the judgment seat of God alone, as individuals, but on this earth he provides for us certain institutions whose nearly sole purpose is to teach us His law. These mediating institutions called the nation, the Church, and the family are really our sole teachers. If any one of them goes wrong, we may be lost. If each of them goes wrong, we will be utterly lost. But each of them stands in the way of the radical feminist notion of the complete autonomy of the self. Therefore the feminists insist that each of these institutions must change, they must become different than how God made them, and in this change, they will be destroyed.


These are the stakes. They cannot get any higher.


God called us into this time and this place for a purpose and it was not for a life of ease. He called us into this time and this place, which is a time of great tumult. He called us into this time and place to defend his creation from those who would sully it. There is no finer time to be alive than right now for there has never been a time when good men and women were so needed.


Go forth, my friends, go forth. Defend your countries. Defend your Churches. Defend your families. We will meet the radicals in the courts; we will meet them in the Parliaments; we will meet them in the universities; we will meet them in the public square; we will meet them in the international institutions. We will never give up. We will never give in. We will never surrender. Never. Never. Never. Go forth.


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