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Explanation of position of the Holy See on the resolution “Women, the girl child and HIV and AIDS” (E.CN.6/2016/L.5)

Explanation of position of the Holy See on the resolution “Women, the girl child and HIV and AIDS” (E.CN.6/2016/L.5)


Mr. Chair


My delegation supports the main purpose of this resolution, which is to intensify our collective efforts to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic and to address the specific vulnerabilities of women and the girl child in this regard. While some of the additions to this resolution strengthen the text and address the real needs of women and girls through the promotion of prevention, treatment and eradication, many of the new proposals, especially those promoting risk-taking behavior and even abortion, undermine the resolutions purpose and work against its original intent.


In this regard, the Holy See, in conformity with its nature and particular mission, especially keeping in mind the work of the Catholic Church in the field confronting the HIV/AIDS epidemic, wishes to make the following reservations on some of the concepts used therein:


  1. Regarding the terms "sexual and reproductive health",  “sexual and reproductive health-care services”, and "reproductive rights", the Holy See considers these terms as applying to a holistic concept of health. These terms embrace, each in their own way, the person in the entirety of his or her personality, mind and body. They should also be understood to foster the achievement of personal maturity in sexuality and in the mutual love and decision-making that characterize the conjugal-relationship between a man and a woman in accordance with moral norms. The Holy See does not consider abortion, access to abortion, or access to abortifacients as a dimension of these terms.

  2. With reference to the terms "contraception", “commodities”, “condom use” and any other terms regarding family-planning services and regulation of fertility concepts in the document, the Holy See reaffirms its well-known position concerning those family-planning methods which the Catholic Church considers morally acceptable and, on the other hand, family-planning services which do not respect the liberty of the spouses, human dignity and the human rights of those concerned.

  3. In relation to paragraphs 1 and 2 of this Statement of Position, the Holy See 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 or human 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).

  4.  With reference to "gender", the Holy See understands the term to be grounded in the biological sexual identity and difference that is male or female. Regarding the concepts of “gender norms” and “gender stereotypes” the Holy See does not recognize the idea that gender is socially constructed, rather gender recognizes the objective identity of the human person as born male or female.

  5. With respect to "comprehensive education" or "information" on "sexuality", the Holy See reiterates the "primary responsibility" and the "prior rights" of parents, including their right to religious freedom, when it comes to the education and upbringing of their children, as enshrined, inter alia, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In that sense, the Holy See wishes to underline the centrality of the family, “the natural and fundamental group unit of society,” as well as the role and rights and duties of parents to educate their children.


Thank you Mr. Chair.