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UN-Defined Ethics

by Dr. Stephen Baskerville
June 21, 2011

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Many Christians dismiss the United Nations as a distant international entity hardly worth their attention. Among their ranks, it is almost a cliché that the UN is engaged in a relentless effort to dismantle the family and attack Judeo-Christian values. Less well-recognized is just how precisely the UN does this and how encompassing the implications of this are -- not only for Christians, but for millions of others.

It is no exaggeration to say that the UN, through its pervasive international policies and initiatives, works to keep underdeveloped countries in permanent poverty, mercilessly bullied by the wealthy, politically leftist countries that are conspiring to dismantle the traditional values on which their societies are built. A visit to UN headquarters also reveals how the UN mocks parliamentary procedures and turns the policymaking process into a free-for-all dominated by petty leftists, tyrants, and liberal bureaucrats.

Conservative criticisms of the UN’s role in high politics are well known. The UN’s ineffectiveness in fulfilling its mandate to maintain world peace, coupled with its tendency to favor anti-Americanism, aggressors, and even terrorists has left its political operations largely discredited.

More hidden is the UN’s extensive social and increasingly sexual agenda. Added to its longstanding attempts to promote abortion -- undertaken without any mandate from member countries -- the UN has now launched campaigns to undermine parental authority and promote sex (both heterosexual and homosexual) among children. It is pushing programs on “sexuality education” that are little less than pornography for children and adolescents and that convey a strange blend of sexual indulgence with political indoctrination.

Throughout the year, the UN holds “meetings” sponsored by bodies like the Commission on the Status of Women, the Commission on Population and Development, and Commission for Social Development. These meetings involve mostly the same people gathering to pass repeated and never-ending “resolutions.” While these might seem to be mostly talk, the aim is to enunciate principles and create buzzwords (“sexual rights,” “reproductive health”) that can then be incorporated into treaties and other international instruments, as well as imported into the domestic legislation and court decisions of member nations. All this bypasses the democratic processes of open government and ethical policymaking recognized by free governments throughout the world.

Perhaps most striking even to those well-informed about the issues is the peculiar chaos of the proceedings. UN negotiating sessions are a free-for-all where documents are amended and modified without limit. Few clear rules or orderly procedures limit or regularize debates or ensure that different voices are heard fairly. Votes and other formal procedures are almost unheard of. When time runs out (as it invariably does), the chairman of a negotiating session can seize control and decide the wording of a resolution largely by fiat.

This reflects larger irregularities that appall the most cynical veterans of the parliamentary processes of Capitol Hill or Westminster. The UN has few firm rules to distinguish members of official delegations from those who represent ideological interests or “non-governmental” organizations. This allows powerful pressure groups to exert influence as if they were governments and upstage the official representatives of less powerful countries. No sharp distinction separates those who make policy (politicians) from those who implement it (civil servants), so nothing prevents bureaucrats from being pressured, bribed, threatened, or otherwise politicized. In fact, UN bureaucrats actively lobby at public expense for measures that give themselves more power and money. The UN thus operates largely as a patronage machine, with jobs and perks passed out for political (or other) favors.

As Marcia Barlow of United Families International outlines, this chaos favors those who can control the proceedings because they have the largest numbers and the biggest budgets, those who can wear down their opposition through endless meetings and paperwork, and those most willing to bully their opponents with despotic methods.

What may be most startling in all this, and most underappreciated by Christian and conservative critics, is how the issues being pushed -- sexual license and decadence -- are inseparable from the political methods used to promote them and the consequent corruption of policymaking ethics. Sexual and political virtue are intertwined, along with their deterioration. This is precisely what Plato predicted, and it is what the Bible teaches us, perhaps most explicitly in the writings of the prophets.

A small contingent of Christian groups works valiantly at the UN, reminiscent of the army of Gideon or the Spartans at Thermopylae, holding out against overwhelming numbers: Family Watch International, National Right to Life, Concerned Women for America, C-Fam, and a few others are engaged mostly in “damage limitation.” Occasionally they are assisted by college students. Patrick Henry College recently sent a small group to join them for the meeting of the Commission on Population and Development, hoping to identify issues and strategies in which they might collaborate in the defense of families and parental rights.

So while a strong argument could be made that Christians should avoid active participation in a global enterprise that, many agree, works irresistibly and malevolently against the virtues we share, we should not refuse to engage with it. Citizens of the United States have a God-given opportunity to influence the UN that others throughout the world can only envy. Peter Smith of Britain’s Society for the Protection of Unborn Children points out how difficult it is for most people in the world to come to New York to affect decisions that will profoundly alter their lives and their countries for generations. This is especially true of poor countries that are fighting to preserve their traditional values such as family and religious faith. “What goes on in that negotiating room,” he says, “will be forced on the rest of the world whether they want it or not.”

Stephen Baskerville is associate professor of government at Patrick Henry College and author of Taken Into Custody: The War Against Fathers, Marriage, and the Family (Cumberland House, 2007).  He is working on a book on sexual politics. Read full bio.

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