Committees Gone Wild:
- Post by: William L. Saunders Jr.
- January 28, 2010
How U.N. Bureaucrats Are Turning ‘Human Rights’ Against the Family Ever since President Woodrow Wilson lobbied for his League of Nations at the end of World War One, Americans have resisted international political causes or organizations. In recent years, that resistance has been directed against the United Nations and its international human rights conventions that claim, among other things, to defend women and children and certain social and economic rights. With good reason, the U.S. Senate has ratified only one of these U.N. treaties and—as this essay will demonstrate—should not ratify any more. Driving that opposition, in part, is conservative distrust of “human rights” language, as such language is used by the political left to obscure a social liberationist agenda that is entrenched in various U.N. agencies charged with interpreting those treaties. Yet many of the foundational human rights documents being used today to undermine the family actually provide a remarkable defense of the natural family, marriage between a man and a woman, and parental rights. Furthermore, the development of the concept of “human rights”—as well as its support among notable figures such as Mary Ann Glendon of Harvard Law School, the late Richard John Neuhaus, the founding editor of First Things, and the late Pope John Paul II—is proof that the idea is, if anything, conservative rather than liberal. The conservative character of human rights can be seen in the “granddaddy” of all human rights documents, the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As Professor Glendon recounts its genesis: Early in 1947, with the horrors of two world wars fresh in their memories, a remarkable group of men and women gathered, at the behest of the newly formed United Nations . . . to draft the first “international bill of rights.” So far as the Great Powers of the day were concerned, the main purpose of the United Nations was to establish and maintain colle