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PRI “Right to Life” Comment on the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)


On October 6, 2017, the Population Research Institute submitted the following policy paper to the United Nations Human Rights Committee. What follows is an excerpt, but you may download the full PDF here.

The Population Research Institute (PRI) is grateful for the opportunity to submit to the Human Rights Committee (hereinafter “Committee”) a comment on the revised draft of General Comment No. 36 on article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The right to life is the first and most fundamental of all human rights, a right inherent to the human person and the “prerequisite for the enjoyment of all other human rights.” As the Committee has correctly stated, the right to life is “the supreme right from which no derogation is permitted even in time of public emergency” and a right which “cannot properly be understood in a restrictive manner.”

The Population Research Institute is an educational non-profit, non-governmental organization that promotes human rights in the context of population issues and exposes the violation of human rights in population control programs. PRI President Steven W. Mosher is the first Western eyewitness of forced abortion practiced under the one-child policy as it was first made applicable to all provinces in the People’s Republic of China in 1980.

Article 6 of the ICCPR recognizes the inherent right to life for every human being. This necessarily includes the right to life for the unborn child and the human person in all stages of development and at the end of life. As such,

(a) building upon the wide consensus of nations with respect to the right to life as agreed to by states that have adopted the ICCPR;

(b) reiterating the obligations of states and international institutional bodies under the norms of international law;

(c) recognizing the universal interest in upholding and protecting the fundamental and inherent right to life for everyone;

we reiterate that there is no internationally recognized “right” to abortion or “right to die.” We remind the Committee that abortion, assisted suicide and euthanasia are not mentioned in the ICCPR nor are they implicit anywhere in the treaty nor in the customary norms of international law. Abortion, assisted suicide, and euthanasia are grave violations of the right to life and are incompatible with article 6 of the Covenant. As such, paragraphs 9 and 10 of the Draft General Comment No. 36 on article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights are incompatible with the ICCPR and should be revised per the recommendations laid out in Section VI of this written submission.

Every year, approximately 56 million unborn children are terminated through induced abortion worldwide. While not all researchers agree on this number, as abortion statistics are notoriously difficult to estimate, it is the estimate that the World Health Organization (WHO) has most recently cited. If true, it would signify that abortion is, by far, the leading cause of death worldwide, more than all top 10 leading causes of death combined. In fact, the number of unborn children terminated through abortion annually, under this estimate, nearly equals the yearly total number of deaths from all other causes combined.

Abortion is a grave threat to the fundamental right to life and any change in the Committee’s interpretation of ICCPR article 6 should take into account the scale of the loss of life of unborn children.

For references for the above and to read the full paper, please download the full PDF.

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