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At UN on Child & Human Rights, Culture Wars Flare After Kenya ICC Abstentions

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 27 -- It was the night before Thanksgiving and in the UN's Human Right Committee the culture wars flared up. On a resolution called "Rights of the Child," Trinidad and Tobago took a reservation from provisions on sexual and reproductive health and adolescents.

  The Holy See echoed this. Then Sudan said that it accepts the word "gender" only if it means "male or female." Sudan also objected to a reference to the International Criminal Court.

  And the ICC, sources told Inner City Press, specifically the Security Council's refusal to grant the request by the African Union to a one year deferral of the ICC's Kenya proceedings, fueled an African Group revolt.

  The issue became technical: the African Group called for a deferral of consideration of a "focal point" to the next session of the General Assembly; the United States and some others opposed "cherry picking" parts of the report of the Human Rights Council which did not explicitly ask for GA action.

  Sources on both of those sides told Inner City Press that the incoming, just elected Human Rights Council will be less "pro-West" than the current one, "resolutions that used to pass, won't," as one put it. And so the culture wars threaten to grow, inflamed by eight Security Council members' refusal to grant any part of the African Union's request.

 This position was criticized, diplomatically, by the outgoing president of the Security Council, Liu Jieyi, whose End of Presidency reception began even as the Third Committee fight picked up. Watch this site.

Update: the African Group and its supporters voted down the others' amendment, with 76 votes to the others' 74, 18 abstentions. Some said: it's a new era.


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