October 20 2009
IWF in the News: U.N. Bureaucracy Co-opts Anti-terrorism Report to Redefine Gender, Critics Argue
New York City, N.Y., Oct 20, 2009 / 02:19 am (CNA).- A recently submitted report on human rights in counter-terrorism efforts uses language defining gender as "a social and shifting construct" that is not static but changeable. Critics charge that the United Nations bureaucracy has made the report "highly ideological" and has distracted from its true purpose of protecting women.
Focusing upon gender-based issues, the report "Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms While Countering Terrorism" was authored by U.N. Special Rapporteur Martin Scheinin.
In his report summary, Scheinin wrote that many of the report's measures concern the human rights of women. However, he added, "gender is not synonymous with women, and, instead, encompasses the social constructions that underlie how women's and men's roles, functions and responsibilities, including in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity, are understood."
"Gender is not static; it is changeable over time and across contexts," he stated.
Understanding "gender" as "a social and shifting construct rather than as a biological and fixed category," in the rapporteur's view, would help identify the "complex and inter-related gender-based human rights violations caused by counterterrorism measures." Scheinin wrote that such understanding would also help "design strategies for countering terrorism that are truly non-discriminatory and inclusive of all actors."
Austin Ruse, President of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), told CNSNews.com that the document was "highly ideological" and that acceptance of Scheinin's definition will trigger U.N. debate. His "radical" definition of gender will gain more impetus because of its inclusion in a report authored by a special rapporteur and accepted by the General Assembly.
"Even though the radicals have tried to get this statement agreed to, that gender is a social construct, the General Assembly has decided not once, not twice, but three times that gender is based in nature," Ruse added.
The C-FAM president said he doubted the report had a chance of being accepted by the General Assembly, noting a "growing opposition" to it. Though acknowledging uncertainty about the issue, he told CNSNews.com he fully expected a "massive negative reaction" to the report.
Julie Gunlock, a senior fellow at the Independent Women's Forum, charged that the report veered from its intended subject of women and diluted its importance.
The changes "managed to turn this into something that looks more like some politically correct corporate human resources manual," she told CNSNews.com.
In a Monday e-mail Ruse told CNA that the report points to an "ongoing tension" between U.N. Member States and the United Nations bureaucracy.
"What happens is that the Member States make a decision, then the hard left bureaucracy does exactly what it wants even if it is the opposite of what Member States decide. While the Member states have decided this issue on behalf of tradition, this pipsqueak bureaucrat injected his own ideology and his own sexual proclivities into this report."
Ruse said that the writer is a "homosexual activist" who helped author "other nasty reports."