STRASBOURG, FRANCE – On September 25, 2015, the United Nations adopted the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda—a set of 17 Goals and 169 Targets—that will guide all international development initiatives for the next 15 years.
Although the Agenda officially has been adopted, and even commemorated with the visit of Pope Francis to the UN, the work of determining how the Goals and Targets will be implemented is far from done.
Last week, in Bangkok, Thailand, statistical experts from around the world gathered to create the “indicators” that will be used to judge countries’ progress in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.
The indicators are of crucial importance in so far as they could be used to pressure pro-life countries to liberalize their abortion laws in the name of “sustainable development”. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), along with other pro-abortion countries, attempted to prevent the open negotiation of any of the indicators related to abortion in Bangkok.
One specific indicator (suggested indicator #2 for Target 5.6) would measure the number of countries that offer “reproductive health services” (which includes abortion in UN parlance) to women and girls. Although many countries strongly object to this, it seemed as though they would barred from even expressing this position at the meeting.
Their delegation was able to open a dialogue on this issue
The Holy See, in attendance as an official observer to the expert group, delivered a series of strong interventions on the issue of avoiding open negotiation on controversial indicators. Their delegation was able to open a dialogue on this issue, which was warmly supported by a number of countries. Thanks to their intervention, the outcome was that the expert group was obliged to allow for a special consultation period during which countries can now express their official reservations on the problematic indicators and propose alternative language.
As a result of the Holy See’s efforts, pro-life countries are now in a position where they can put forth a new indicator to replace the problematic abortion indicator created by UNFPA.
The indicator process will move to UN Headquarters in New York for final adoption by March 2016. However, it was announced in Thailand that the indicators will be “living and breathing,” meaning that they will remain fluid and “adjustable” for the forseeable future.
For this reason, it will be imperative to remain vigilant so as to ensure that the 2030 Development Agenda can never be used to force countries to change their laws on abortion.