October 14, 2004 in City

U.S. won’t sign rights statement

Edith M. Lederer Associated Press
 

UNITED NATIONS – The United States has refused to join 85 other heads of state and government in signing a statement that endorsed a 10-year-old U.N. plan to ensure every woman’s right to education, health care and choice about having children.

President Bush’s administration withheld its signature because the statement included a reference to “sexual rights.”

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kelly Ryan wrote to organizers of the statement that the United States was committed to the Cairo plan of 1994 and “to the empowerment of women and the need to promote women’s fullest enjoyment of universal human rights.”

“The United States is unable, however, to endorse the world leaders’ statement,” Ryan said, because it “includes the concept of ‘sexual rights,’ a term that has no agreed definition in the international community.”

Ryan did not elaborate on the Bush administration’s objections to the phrase “sexual rights,” but at past U.N. meetings U.S. representatives have spoken out against abortion, gay rights and what they see as the promotion of promiscuity by giving condoms to young people to prevent AIDS.

The statement of new global support for the Cairo plan was given Wednesday to Deputy Secretary-General Louise Frechette by media mogul Ted Turner, who has lent significant financial support to the world body through his United Nations Foundation.

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