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The governments of the United States, Brazil, Egypt, Hungary, Indonesia, and Uganda are co-sponsoring a virtual ceremonial signing of the Geneva Consensus Declaration on October 22nd to be hosted by the US Secretary of Health & Human Services, Alex Azar and Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo and co-hosted by Ministers of Health, Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Ambassadors, and Members of Congress or Parliament, as well as Senior representatives from co-sponsoring and co-signing nations.
This Declaration will further strengthen a coalition to achieve the following four pillars: (1) better health for women, (2) the preservation of human life, (3) strengthening of family as the foundational unit of society, and (4) protecting every nation's national sovereignty in global politics. For example, it is the sovereign right of every nation to make their own laws in regard to abortion, absent external pressure.
Finding solutions to health concerns should be a uniting priority for all Member States and this event charts a positive way forward for accelerating progress to achieving these four pillars. This virtual event, originally set to be the capstone of a global women’s health summit held in Geneva, Switzerland now postponed due to COVID-19, will be a celebration of partnership between all countries present.
The GCD will build upon a statement made in 2019 by Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, "There is no international right to abortion... I stated this fact at the United Nations this past September, and I'll repeat it here: there is no international human right to abortion. On the other hand, there is an international human right to life," he said. The Trump administration also has a "Protecting Life in Global Health Policy" initiative.
Azar read a joint statement between the US and 18 other countries before a high-level meeting on universal health coverage, stating that "ambiguous terms," which includes "sexual and reproductive health and rights," should be opposed in UN documents as they are often interpreted to push for abortion and undermine the fundamental family. Azar did what many of us present at the UN have only dreamed of seeing an administration do, call out the UN for using ambiguous terminology to cover up, mislead and/or sound appealing to the general public in order to push forward their harmful agendas.
The US administration under President Trump has been consistent in their efforts to protect life and the family with their voice for the vulnerable only becoming that much stronger at the UN where we have witnessed an uptick in pro-abortion advocacy coming from Member States and civil society seeking to exploit the COVID19 pandemic, but where the UN pushes, the US pushes back. Defending life and resetting the US' international priorities on a path where all life is safeguarded has become a trademark of this administration.
In March, John Barsa, acting Administrator of the USAID, sent UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres a letter calling out the Secretary for "cynically placing the provision of 'sexual and reproductive health services' on the same level of importance as food-insecurity, essential health care, malnutrition, shelter, and sanitation." In the letter, Barsa asked Guterres to remove references to "sexual and reproductive health" from the United Nation’s COVID-19 policies and to "drop the provision of abortion as an essential component of the UN's priorities to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic." Just like Azar, Barsa called out the term "sexual and reproductive health" as not only ambiguous but controversial.
The GCD is not only another initiative spearheaded by the U.S. to layer on protections for the vulnerable but it will also help shift some of the mainstream's talking points in the debate surrounding abortion which presently revolve around abortion not only being a "woman’s right" but that of a fundamental human right which, in the realm of reality, does not, and has never, existed.
Up to this point, 31 countries from various regions representing 1.6 billion people signed onto the Declaration on October 22 and it will remain open to additional signatures for those countries wishing to join.
Geneva Consensus Declaration’s unique factors
- There has never been a global coalition specifically tasked to tackle these specific issues.
- There has never been an American mission lead statement on these issues.
- No GCD has ever existed and its signatories commitments to work on the 4 pillars until they are fully successful is essential to its success.
- No event with 5 countries taking joint leadership around these four pillars has existed.
Geneva Consensus Declaration Signing objectives
- Emphasize that previously agreed declarations, resolutions, and the like, were attained as a result of long and serious negotiations – and that those results should not be abridged.
- Convene high-level representatives from like-minded countries to celebrate the growing partnership.
- Release the internationally-negotiated document – the Geneva Consensus Declaration – to serve as an accelerant for future partnerships around the 4 pillars.
The Geneva Consensus Declaration not only prioritizes the protection of our world’s most vulnerable but that of every nation’s sovereignty, two essential elements both the UN and other Member States should prioritize more often.