Let us look at the hands of the UN officers

Wlodzimierz Redzioch is interviewing Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi CS, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the EU and its agencies in Geneva.

In 1994, in Cairo, the United Nations International Conference on Population and Development was held. Some countries of the rich North treated it as an occasion to force the unethical politics of birth control on the Third World countries. The delegation of the Holy See for the Conference, with the support of several countries, prevented some regulations, including 'the right' to abortion on demand, from being introduced into the final document.
10 years after that disreputable meeting the time has come to evaluate its results. It has been evident that the theory, which held that population growth was an obstacle to development, and the recipe for eliminating poverty was to limit population growth, are absurd and harmful. Two weeks ago, in issue 49 of 'Niedziela' (dated 5 December 2004) we published an interview with Archbishop Renato Raffaele Martino, member of the delegation of the Holy See. He evaluated that meeting and its results from the perspective of a decade. At present, as we have already announced, we are publishing the conversation with the second member of the delegation, Fr Silvano M. Tomasi CS, who was then the secretary of the Pontifical Council of Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples Both interviews were conducted by Wlodzimierz Redzioch.

Wlodzimierz Redzioch: - What happened 10 years ago, at the UN Conference in Cairo?

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, C.S.: - The UN Conference, held in Cairo in September 1994, was an important event in the life of the international community because during the Conference there were debates about such important contemporary issues as development of poor countries, population issues and the role of women in society. During the discussions about the influence of the number of population on economic growth, moral issues were raised and two visions of the future were confronted. According to one vision the life of every human being is valuable and seen as a potential source of prosperity. In the second vision population growth is an obstacle to development and the condition to eliminate poverty would be to limit the number of people on our planet. This problem is still relevant today because the Programme of Action of the Conference is the basis of concrete actions for the cause of development.

- How can we evaluate the results of the Conference in Cairo from the perspective of a decade?

- The objectives of the Conference were very generous but the ways to attain them proved to be wrong. Above all, too much emphasis was placed on the dubious theory that overpopulation was to be the reason of poverty. Secondly, in Cairo there was an attempt to force a 'new' anthropology, which - in spite of the natural law - introduces a new concept of human being (the value and dignity of a human being recede into the background and what counts is his or her health and prosperity; a human being is characterised by extreme individualism, which means that he or she is self-contained and has no other points of reference apart from him/her). These visions determined the social and political projections, which have dramatic consequences. They also influence the attitude towards religion - if some religion does not share this anthropology it is opposed. In the world, where only the sense of one's own and egoistic good counts, the law of the stronger or the richer has been in effect.

- Does it mean that the Conference in Cairo was a negative fact in the history of mankind?

- In Cairo the concept of 'reproductive health' was introduced, which caused that today the UN agencies use it more and more in order to justify the need for abortion. Moreover, speaking about the woman's right to 'decide about her own body' is an attempt to recognise abortion as 'fundamental human right'. The result of this logic was the legalisation of children's euthanasia in Holland. In both cases the victim has no right to plead, the law of the stronger is in force. If the pursuit of personal good is not connected with responsibility for others violence appears.

- What are the results of the Programme of Action, which was worked out in Cairo?

- The documents worked out in Cairo speak about the struggle against poverty, but some politicians are only concerned themselves with birth control, which was to be the recipe for development. Therefore, these people demand that the so-called reproductive health, embracing 'safe' abortion, should be included in 'human rights'. Today people speak about 'reproductive rights', but in fact it is perversion of law because it leads to weakening moral responsibility and causes harm in social life.

- You worked in Africa for many years. Is overpopulation - as some people claim - the reason of economic underdevelopment of the Black Continent?

- It is not a rule that the underdeveloped African countries are densely populated. On the contrary, some of them have small population. We know that the most important stimulus to development is human creative skills but on the other hand the experience teaches that ageing societies are conservative, unable to renewal and they try to preserve the existing status quo. Therefore, I think that a decrease in population does not contribute to Africa's development but there are other factors, which will contribute: universal education, just distribution of goods (political authorities often make such distribution impossible) and introduction of African products into world markets.

- Finally, I would like to touch the problem concerning Poland. The UN Human Rights Committee issued a document, in which it recommended that Poland should change its abortion law. What do you think about this interference of UN officers in the matters of a still sovereign country?

- Thomas W. Jacobson, representative of the American organisation Focus on the Family, published a lengthy document concerning this issue, which can be summed up:
Firstly, the UN Charter states 'Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state'. Secondly, the Human Rights Committee can look into international economic, social, cultural, educational and public health issues, etc., can prepare reports as well as make recommendations on all such issues. Unfortunately, the text of the UN 'recommendations' for Poland is written in the form of commands.
Thirdly, the Human Rights Committee, falsely interpreting the International Pact on Citizens' and Political Rights, tries to force Poland to change its law in order to adjust it to the wrongly interpreted Pact. Fourth, the Committee tries to impose on Poland its own, ideologically motivated programme, using controversial terms: 'sexual orientation' and 'sexual minorities', which do not appear in the Pact nor are defined in the UN documents.
In a word, the UN Human Rights Committee has exceeded its authority in a scandalous and illegal way, trying to usurp the legal power over the society and elected government of the independent Polish nation. I totally agree with the analysis of Thomas W. Jacobson.

- I regret to say that many UN commissions and agencies are in the hands of 'lobbies', which - ignoring the will of nations, their cultures and system of values - try to impose on sovereign countries politics and 'rights' reflecting the ideology of these groups. Governments and nations should increase vigilance and reveal cases of violation of international treaties by the UN organs. Thank you for the conversation.

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl