The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child just issued a report chastising the Holy See for its failure to comply with the Convention on the Rights of the Child on various grounds. In a clear overreach of its mandate, the Committee lectures the Catholic Church on its teachings regarding homosexual behavior and abortion.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child, in force since September 1990, embodies the international community’s commitment to the protection of children. As noted in the Preamble of the Convention, “the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as afterbirth.” In an obvious departure from this language, the Committee seeks now to promote abortion in the name of the Convention, and urges the Holy See “to review its position on abortion…and to amend Canon 1398 relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services can be permitted.”
As a treaty monitoring body, the Committee is tasked with monitoring States’ compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and has no authority to make law. Since there is no basis in the Convention, or anywhere in international law, to articulate a right to abortion, the Committee’s efforts to persuade a sovereign State, let alone the provisions of a particular religion, to amend its position to accord with their own view represents an egregious example of Treaty Bodies overstepping the bounds of their mandate. This continues a long tradition of this committee and other treaty monitoring bodies overstepping their mandates and trying to create new law, which is why States must be circumspect about giving power to international bodies over social and other issues that should be decided on a national level.
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