U.N. Women's Rights Treaty Will Go to Full Senate; Measure Considered Once since Carter Signed It in 1980.(NATION)

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), July 31, 2002 | Go to article overview
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U.N. Women's Rights Treaty Will Go to Full Senate; Measure Considered Once since Carter Signed It in 1980.(NATION)


Byline: Sean Salai, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted yesterday to send a U.N. treaty on women's rights to the floor, marking the second time the full chamber will consider its ratification since President Carter signed the treaty in 1980.

"It is long past time for the Senate to act," said committee Chairman Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat, of the 12-7 party-line vote favoring the long-dormant Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

"The treaty provides a framework of basic rights for women, such as a right to equal opportunities in education, in employment and a right to equality before the law," Mr. Biden said.

Opponents of the treaty, ratified by 170 countries and supported by 167 U.S. special-interest groups, say it is redundant and that the United Nations' 23-member convention committee exploits the treaty's vague language to undermine democracy and promote abortions and prostitution.

"Among other things, that committee has directed China to legalize prostitution and has criticized Belarus for establishing Mother's Day," wrote Sen. Jesse Helms, the ranking Republican on the Senate committee, in a letter yesterday. "These findings are simply out of step with generally held values of democratic nations."

The convention was reported out of committee on a 13-5 vote in 1994 but held by the full Senate and sent back with reservations. It directs countries to eliminate sex discrimination, which it defines as anything impairing the "recognition, enjoyment, or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status" of their freedoms.

"This treaty represents a battering ram against free and democratic societies, and particularly against women with traditonal values," said Cecilia Royals of the National Institute of Womanhood, noting that Afghanistan signed it in 1980.

Denmark recently modified its constitution to conform to the convention committee reports. This year the committee also chastized Belgium for not meeting recommended quotas.

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