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Wednesday, October 20, 2004

US says women's rights are wrong

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U.S. won't sign U.N. statement on women's rights
Associated Press
Oct. 14, 2004

UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The United States has refused to join 85 other heads of state and governments 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 that the United States was committed to the plan of action adopted at a 1994 U.N. conference in Cairo 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."

The 1994 Cairo program, signed by 179 countries, including the United States, says women have the "right to make decisions concerning reproduction, free of discrimination, coercion and violence as expressed in human rights documents."

While the Bush administration refused to sign the followup statement, the United States under Clinton did endorse the platform adopted a year after Cairo at the U.N. conference in Beijing that specifically mentioned sexual rights.
The United States took a leading role in drafting the Beijing document, which states: "The human rights of women include their right to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality, including sexual and reproductive health, free of coercion, discrimination and violence."

Bush has blocked $34 million in congressionally approved annual assistance to the United Nations Population Fund, alleging the U.N. agency helped China manage programs that involved forced abortions. China calls the charge baseless.

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Associated Press