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No legal or political document is more slickly packaged yet more deceptively dangerous than the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
Let’s take care of something up front. No matter what its title, opposing CEDAW does not equal supporting discrimination against women. If that’s the best CEDAW’s supporters can come up with, they lose. A discussion this important requires something more grown-up than such knee-jerk nonsense.
President Jimmy Carter signed CEDAW and submitted it to the Senate for ratification in 1980. In September 1994, on the eve of the GOP takeover, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 13-5 to approve it. No doubt hoping to create a campaign issue this year, the committee held another hearing on June 13. Chairman Joseph Biden, D-Del., insisted that “the U.S. will not need to enact any new laws” if it ratified CEDAW. He and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., wrote the same day in the San Francisco Chronicle that ratification “would not impose a single new requirement in our laws.”
They are wrong. As a ratified treaty, CEDAW would, under Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, be the “supreme law of the land,” equal in status with the Constitution itself. Such a powerful weapon is necessary because CEDAW has a revolutionary purpose.
The purpose of CEDAW is to re-make the world in the radical feminist image. Whew, how’s that for a wild-eyed, right-wing, extremist statement? OK, then look at the treaty and judge for yourself.
Article 2 of CEDAW requires any nation ratifying it to eliminate “all discrimination against women” – not only by government, but also by “any person, organization, or enterprise.” If taken seriously, this would forbid private single-sex schools and social organizations. But the senators said CEDAW would not change anything in America.
It gets worse. Article 5 requires ratifying nations to “modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women” and “elimination of … all … practices which are based on … stereotyped roles for men and women.”
Article 2 requires ratifying nations to change their “national constitutions” and “legislation” as well as use their “national tribunals” to accomplish these revolutionary goals. Article 3 requires this effort to cover the “political, social, economic and cultural fields.” Article 10 requires “elimination of any stereotyped concept of the roles of men and women at all levels and in all forms of education” through the “revision of textbooks and school programmes and the adaptation of teaching methods.”
Who defines the “discrimination” that must be eliminated and by what criteria? Which “social and cultural patterns” must be modified, how much, and in what way? Who identifies the “practices which are based on … stereotyped roles”?
Article 1 of CEDAW defines “discrimination” as “any distinction … on the basis of sex” in “any … field.” Article 17 creates a Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women to interpret and apply the treaty. The United Nations Development Fund for Women says that the CEDAW committee determines a ratifying nation’s “obligations under the [treaty].” So just as the U.S. Constitution is whatever the Supreme Court says it is, CEDAW is whatever the CEDAW committee says it is.
Well, the CEDAW committee has told China to legalize prostitution and criticized Belarus for discriminatory practices such as Mothers’ Day. It told Slovenia that 30 percent of small children in institutional day care was not enough. Last year, the committee said the motherhood role should not take precedence over professional and individual development. The committee has frequently criticized nations for attitudes that portray men as breadwinners and women as mothers and homemakers. The committee attacked Ireland for what it considered excessive influence by the Catholic Church and told Libya that “the interpretation of the Koran had to be reviewed in the light of the provisions of [CEDAW].”
CEDAW was used to change the constitutions of nations including Colombia, Uganda, and Brazil. The Supreme Courts of Australia, Costa Rica and India have ruled that their national constitutions must be interpreted in light of CEDAW.
According to UNIFEM, CEDAW “has been used to define norms for constitutional guarantees … to interpret laws,” and to “mandate proactive … policies.” Its “potential is immense, and much more effort has to be taken to exploit it.” Thus, CEDAW overwhelms anything in its path – it is the “principal legal instrument addressing women’s rights and equality.” Women’s groups are invited to interact with the CEDAW committee to “integrate their perspectives into the interpretation of the Convention’s articles.”
If ratified, CEDAW will be the supreme law of the land. The CEDAW committee, utilizing the perspective of feminist groups, will decide whether American law and society is living up to its version of the Brave New World. And you can bet that the same far-left political forces whose perspective will inform the CEDAW committee’s indictment of America, stand ready to bludgeon every politician at every level into following the will of the CEDAW committee. Thus a gang of international bureaucrats will effectively have commandeered American law so it can re-make American society.
And you thought this was just about discrimination against women.