Ireland is currently before the UN Human Rights Committee in order to report on our compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). But the whole process is so deeply flawed, it cannot be taken seriously.
For instance, the committee members in practice often know little about the many countries they have to scrutinise in each session and are deeply influenced by the submissions of home-based NGOs which are almost invariably radically pro-choice and secular.
Several Irish NGOs have told the committee that our present abortion law made even more permissive and claim that Ireland must amend it to be compliant with the ICCPR. This is despite the fact that abortion gets no mention in the document or in any other UN treaty. The ICCPR instead recognises the right to life. Article 6 says: “Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.”
Undeterred by this, one member of the committee yesterday asked Ireland to remove the mandatory three-day waiting period after a woman requests an abortion, which is common in many other European countries, and also asked Ireland to allow for the aborting of disabled babies after the current 12-week limit.
The member was simply drawing on a submission from the Abortion Access Campaign West, which is a member of the State-funded National Women’s Council of Ireland. (Their submission can be found here.)
Another example of misapplying the ICCPR is the continued attack on the conscience rights of doctors and nurses. Article 18 of the covenant says: “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.”
In clear contradiction of this, several NGOs and committee members criticised what they call the “resistance to provision of [‘reproductive health’] services”, i.e. conscientious objection by pro-life health workers.
Pressed on the matter, a representative of the Irish Government announced that the HSE is now recruiting five additional consultant obstetricians on the condition that they perform abortions. (See here at 2 hours and 13 minutes)
It is a shocking paradox that a human right body asks a country to violate the right of conscience, in open contradiction with the spirit and the letter of the UN treaties.
Last year, the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ) published a report that highlighted how committee members are often recruited and funded by leftist and pro-choice organisations.
The members sometimes come from those self-same bodies.
The ECLJ document says: “The omnipresence of these NGOs and foundations has reached such a degree that some mandate holders continue, once elected, to behave like NGO activists, promoting personal political ideas, thus exceeding the terms of their mandates, in violation of the Code of Conduct. This activist mentality, this “NGOization” of mandates contributes, according to several experts interviewed, to the weakening of the authority and effectiveness of the UN system.”
UN committees often present partisan and misleading interpretations of the UN treaties that have no real basis in the treaties themselves and cannot be imposed on Ireland legally.
As explained in this document produced by the Iona Institute, the provisions of any international treaties ratified by Ireland, do not become a part of Irish law unless they are expressly incorporated by the Oireachtas.
So, the highly contentious interpretations of UN committees and monitoring bodies are legally groundless. Nonetheless, they will be used by local campaigners to promote their agendas on the false assumption that those recommendations come from some compelling human right authority.
The whole thing is little more than a charade.