Statement of the Holy See
on the Agreed Conclusions (E.CN.6/2013/…)
57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women of the United
Nations Economic and Social Council
New York, 15 March 2013
My delegation wishes to express its thanks to you and
your bureau for the effort you have expended during this session of the
As we reaffirmed in our statement to the Plenary of
this session, my delegation remains committed to eliminating the “violence
perpetrated against women and girls ... through education, the support of women
who are victims to violence; and more widely, to promote a culture of respect
for every human being without distinction.”
Although the Agreed Conclusions just
adopted contain many useful contributions protecting women and girls, we regret
exception of the fundamental rights: to life, liberty and security of person
and to freedom of thought, conscience or religion. This glaring omission is a disturbing, we
think, even fatal flaw in an outcome document on violence against women and
girls from an institution that was founded in response to the tragedy of untold
millions whose right to life, liberty and security of person was mercilessly
deprived including on account of their religious practice and belief. Hundreds
of thousands in our own times continue to perish in many regions of the world;
millions more are displaced and persecuted on account of their religion or
belief. These women and girls, it seems, must look in vain to this institution
for recognition, assistance and protection. Our response to their suffering is a
deafening and uncomprehending silence.
Our document did not hesitate to recognize other
important rights from the UDHR – property, movement, equal protection of the
law, freedom of expression – but when asked whether women have the fundamental right
to life and security of persons, we faltered. It remains a perplexing source of
concern to my delegation that some delegations found such fundamental rights so
controversial, so unacceptable, that we could not even reaffirm their source documents. While we were able to
make progress in some of my delegation’s proposals based on universally
recognized rights and freedoms, notably the right to education, the refusal of
the final document to recognize the most fundamental right to live and to enjoy
security of person renders the recognition of ancillary rights here severely
For the Holy See this concern is fundamentally linked
to the need for a consistent ethic of life and therefore it wishes to place on
record its understandings on the following matters in
regard to references to “sexual and reproductive health”, “sexual and
reproductive health-care services” and “reproductive rights,” and any other
language which the Holy See has expressed its reservations, we reiterates its
statement and reservations as set out clearly and more fully in the Report of
the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, and the Report
of the 1995 Fourth World Conference and their respective follow-up Conferences.
In particular, my delegation understands, in accordance with the ICPD 1.15,
that no new rights were created, that recourse to abortion may never to be had
for purposes of family planning (7.24), that abortion is a matter to be
determined in accordance with national legislation (8.25).
“gender” my delegation understands to mean “male and female” only, according to
the customary and general usage of the term.
“emergency contraception and safe abortion”, the Holy See affirms that human
life begins at the moment of conception and that life must be defended and
protected. The Holy See can therefore never condone abortion or policies which
favour abortion and reiterates that it does not consider abortion or abortion
services to be a dimension of health care or health care services and that is
no case can an abortion be safe.
- · With
regard to references to the family, we understand these references as enshrined
in article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as the “rights of a man and a woman to marry and found a family”.
Madam Chair, because this resolution concerns
itself not solely with adults but frequently also with girls, who are children,
my delegation considers it important to reiterate that anything pertaining
education of youth requires that the prior right of parents must be fully
respected, as enshrined in international instruments (cf. UDHR, Art. 26,3;
ICCPR, Art. 18,4; CRC, Art.5).
The Holy See remains deeply committed, through its vast
related network of institutions around the globe, to advancing and protecting
women from all forms of violence as well as through financial and human efforts
worldwide to promoting recognition and respect for the dignity of all women and
We ask that the text of this statement be included in
the official records of this meeting.
I thank you, Madam Chair.