By Stefano Gennarini, J.D.
(GENEVA – C-FAM) Delegations from European Countries and the United States suffered a setback last week when the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution affirming a positive link between traditional values and human rights. The European and U.S. delegations view traditional values as threats to women, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual persons.
This is the third resolution on traditional values to pass since 2009. Russia successfully pressed the resolution forward despite attempts by other UN member states to stifle their initiative.
The current resolution, tabled by Russia and co-authored by more than 60 states (not all members of the Council), affirms that traditional values common to all humanity have a positive role in the promotion and protection of human rights. It states that “a better understanding and appreciation of traditional values shared by all humanity and embodied in universal human rights instruments contribute to promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms worldwide.”
Echoing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it stresses “that human rights derive from the dignity and worth inherent in the human person” and recognizes the positive role of the family, community and educational institutions in promoting human rights, calling on states to “strengthen this role through appropriate positive measures.”
European countries and the United States voiced opposition to the concept of traditional values when a resolution under that title was first proposed by Russia in 2009. They also voted against a resolution requesting a report on the interconnectedness of traditional values and human rights from the Advisory Committee of the Council in March last year. When that measure passed, they took control of the Advisory Committee’s efforts to produce a report that was contrary to the intention of the resolution.
The European and U.S. delegations repeatedly complained that “traditional values” is a vague concept used to justify violence and discrimination against women and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) persons. But having failed to sway enough countries with that argument, they sought to halt the resolution by asking the Council to wait for the report from the Advisory Committee, the same one they originally opposed.
Russia tabled the resolution anyway, confident that it would have the necessary votes. The resolution was adopted with 25 in favor, 15 against, and 7 abstentions.
Upon its adoption, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement declaring “The Russian Federation, together with the opinion allies, will continue promoting the idea of [the] inseparable connection of human rights and traditional moral values in the Human Rights Council.”
Noting that “there were states that voted against the draft (in particular, the USA and European Union)” Russia lamented that “(the) negative position of these countries, their unwillingness to work at the text and fanciful arguments against the resolution draft cause regret.”
Last year President Obama ordered all federal agencies dealing with U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance to promote LGBT rights. Support for traditional values is deeply troublesome to LGBT groups, as the Gay Star News reports. They are worried it will be used to defend the natural family, and fear they will be unable to de-criminalize homosexuality worldwide.
Stefano Gennarini is Director of the Center for Legal Studies at the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM) located in both New York City and Washington, D.C. Gennarini’s article first appeared in the Friday Fax, an internet report published weekly by C-FAM.