UN: A General Comment on the CESCR

united-nations-flagThe office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has informed the world that a group of “UN experts”, this time from the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), have issued an “authoritative new legal commentary” on the Right to Health. In this document, which takes the form of a so-called “General Comment on the Right to sexual and reproductive health“, the so-called “experts” make the habitual spurious claim that access to abortion is part of a “right to sexual and reproductive health”, and therefore a human right.

A “General Comment” is a type of document that a UN Treaty Monitoring Body may release to give guidance on the interpretation of the legal texts they are responsible for. They are not legally binding, but derive their credibility from the prestige enjoyed by the body issuing them.

The CESCR’s inane affirmations on abortion being a “right” provide us an occasion to issue from our side, with certainly no less prestige and far better legal foundation, the following General Comment on the CESCR:

1. CESCR is, within the UN System, responsible for the monitoring of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). The ICESCR contains neither the notion “sexual and reproductive health”, nor does it mention a right to abortion. The Committee is therefore overstepping the limits of its mandate.

2. The CESCR’s opinions and comments are not legally binding even when they refer to a subject matter that falls within the scope of the ICESCR. They are one opinion among many. Therefore they are not “authoritative”.

3. The 18 members of the Committee are no-names, widely unknown to the public, and with rather mediocre academic credentials. What sets them off against other lawyers is their determination to impose a radical political agenda with a Malthusian inspiration. They have neither a political mandate nor a sufficient renown as “experts” to impose their political agenda on anyone who does not happen to share it.

4. An abortion is the deliberate killing of an innocent and defenceless human being. It goes by itself that there is not, and never can be, a “right” to kill innocent and defenceless human beings. (This point is made at length, and with solid legal and factual arguments, in the San José Articles, whose authors are certainly no less qualified than the “UN experts”…) The CESCR’s General Comment on the matter is therefore obviously false, and will only result in further undermining the Committee’s feeble credibility.

It is important for the world-wide public to learn about human rights. Knowing about human rights means to be able to differentiate: the ICESCR may be authoritative, but the CESCR isn’t.