UN Experts Submit Pro-Abortion Brief
At first glance, one may feel very impressed by an amicus brief submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court in the Dobbs case by eight experts of the United Nations. These experts – also called U. N. Special Rapporteurs and mandate-holders – are using their authority to try and convince the Supreme Court of the existence of a “right to abortion” based on human rights. Such a brief may look impressive, but only for those who are not aware of international law and of the fact that some U. N. experts are in fact radical activists, opaquely paid by leftist foundations, as we will see.
For the sake of justice, it is necessary to “unmask” the main authors of this brief – hiding behind the prestige of their mandates – and to expose the weakness of their argument.
The signatories of the brief are eight out of the 90 current mandate-holders of the “Special Procedures” established by the Human Rights Council of the United Nations. Their function is to examine, monitor, advise, and report on the respect of human rights. Each of them is supposed to be the worldwide expert on a specific issue. To establish their credibility, the experts present in the introduction of their brief the criteria for the selection of experts, and their duties in the accomplishment of their function, as set forth by the U.N.:
As mandate-holders, amici are independent human rights experts selected for their “(a) expertise; (b) experience in the field of the mandate; (c) independence; (d) impartiality; (e) personal integrity; and (f) objectivity.” Special Rapporteurs “undertake to uphold independence, efficiency, competence and integrity through probity, impartiality, honesty and good faith” and “do not receive financial remuneration.”
Such high standards look convincing; but it is worth confronting it to the reality of the two main signatories of the brief: Dr. Tlaleng Mofokeng and Mrs. Melissa Upreti.
The lead amicus is Dr. Tlaleng Mofokeng, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the right to health since 2020. As a medical doctor, she has herself killed babies through abortions for years, which she presents as “a radical act of self-love.” Mofokeng sits on the board of at least eight organizations promoting abortion in Africa; she has been funded by radical Left billionaire George Soros’ Open Society, awarded by the Gates Foundation, and congratulated by the International Planned Parenthood Federation. She is, or has been in recent years, among others, Co-Director of Global Doctors for Choice in South Africa, member of the Board of Directors of the Safe Abortion Action Fund, founder and director of Nalane for Reproductive Justice, Vice Chair of the Sexual and Reproductive Justice Coalition of South Africa (SRJCZA), etc. In 2016, she was awarded as a “Young Family Planning Champion.”
After her appointment as Special Rapporteur, Dr. Mofokeng said she wanted to fight against “legal and political restrictions” on abortion, saying they undermine the right to health, human dignity, and that they are “discriminatory” because they would “disproportionately affect the persons who can become pregnant.” Simply said, she is an abortion practitioner and a professional activist, not an “impartial” and “objective” expert in this matter.
The second most important signatory of the brief is another radical pro-abortion activist: Melissa Upreti. She is currently the Chair of the U.N. Working Group on discrimination against women and girls. She previously worked for the Center for Reproductive Rights in NYC, the world’s leading pro-abortion legal advocacy group. In 2017, she was appointed to the U.N. Working Group and, almost simultaneously, was recruited by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL), an organization actively promoting abortion. As Senior Director in charge of Global Advocacy, Upreti’s position at the CWGL aims at influencing the U.N., including her Working Group, and she’s proven very effective in this regard. The CWGL became a “hub” of pro-abortion lobbying and influence within the U.N., especially with the Working Group on discrimination against women and girls and other mandate-holders. For example, George Soros’ Open Society Foundations paid $100,000 to the CWGL in 2017 with the explicit purpose of “influencing” a U.N. Special Rapporteur. Therefore, Mrs. Upreti is primarily an abortion lobbyist paid by an organization influencing U.N. Special Rapporteurs, and she dares to pretend before the U.S. Supreme Court that she is independent and impartial on this very matter of abortion.
Unsurprisingly, the latest official report of her U.N. Working Group is steeped in radical activism. It equates “unplanned pregnancies” with actual violence against women and goes as far as to compare doctors’ conscientious objections to abortion with an act of “gender-based violence” and “torture” inflicted on women. The report also pretends that limiting abortion would be a gender-based discrimination as only women can be pregnant. Four other members of this working group are also signatories of the brief: Mrs. Dorothy Estrada-Tanck, Mrs. Elizabeth Broderick, Mrs. Ivana Radačić, and Mrs. Meskerem Geset Techane.
This unmasking information was all published in the recent ECLJ report on “The Financing of UN Experts.” This report was never proven wrong. It exposed how some U.N. experts – especially pro-abortion experts – are opaquely funded during their mandate, sometimes even recruited, and influenced by private foundations such as the Open Society Foundations and the Ford Foundation. Between 2015 and 2019, some experts reported having received $11 million outside of any U.N. control. A few other experts, such as Melissa Upreti, even failed to declare the financial and material support they received. Mrs. Upreti is employed by the CWGL, which is funded by the Ford Foundation, the Oak Foundation, the Open Society Institute Women’s Program and the Fund for a Just Society, just to name a few. She should have declared it as an in-kind support.
Dr. Mofokeng, as a new mandate-holder, disclosed in 2020 her sources of financing (“no external support received”), but her declaration was made upon her taking the mandate and does not include any support she could have received since. According to the “Code of Conduct for Special Procedures,” mandate-holders shall “not accept any honour, decoration, favour, gift or remuneration from any Government or non-governmental source for activities carried out in pursuit of his/her mandate.” Another signatory of the brief, E. Tendayi Achiume, received $250,000 in 2019 from the Ford Foundation for activities carried out in pursuit of his mandate.
The content of the U.N. experts’ amicus brief
The “U.N. experts’” brief tries to demonstrate that every State has an international obligation to legalize abortion broadly, based on human rights, but it refers only to non-binding documents. It even refers mainly to the own reports of Mrs. Mofokeng and Mrs. Upreti’s Working Group, as well as to a few other U.N. experts involved in this issue of “dark financing.”
The brief fails to find any reference to a binding document – such as a U.N. treaty - containing a “right to abortion.” This is not surprising as there is no such right in international law, but a right to life, despite all the efforts of some activists, such as Mrs. Upreti, to create such a fake right.
The ECLJ filed an amicus brief demonstrating the absence of any “right to abortion” even within the caselaw of the European Court of Human Rights. Our brief noted what may surprise many: European law is far more protective of life and restrictive of abortion than Roe and its subsequent Supreme Court precedents have allowed.
In order to support the claim of an international duty on the U.S. to legalize abortion, the “U.N. experts’” brief relies on incomplete and out-of-context quotes, ambiguous notions, and cites documents mentioning sexual and reproductive needs and rights as if they necessarily referred to abortion, which they do not. These “U.N. activists” hope that the Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court will “buy” that their non-binding references trump the U.S. Constitution.Here are the main documents mentioned in the brief, in addition to the reports of Mrs. Mofokeng and Upreti’s Working Group.
The brief mentions report A/HRC/31/57 of Mr. Juan Mendez, former Special Rapporteur on torture, that pretends that limitations to abortion is a kind of torture on the mother. As it has been established by the ECLJ, this report was partly funded and promoted by the Ford and the Open Society foundations, which supported the mandate-holder with $90,000 and $200,000 respectively. Juan Mendez has worked for Human Rights Watch and the Ford Foundation (Scholar in Residence), among others. One of the signatories of the brief is the successor of Juan Mendez.
The brief also cites report A/HRC/32/32 of Mr. Dainius Pūras, former Special Rapporteur on the right to health, who received $624,417 from the Open Society during his mandate. Contrary to what the brief tends to purport, this report doesn’t affirm a duty to legalize abortion, but “encourages” States to depanelize it, as well as drugs.
The brief also refers to report A/HRC/38/33/Add.1 of Mr. Philip Alston, former Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights. Mr. Alston received $600,000 from the Open Society between 2018 and 2019 for his mandate, but only disclosed $5,000 to the U.N. in 2018. He pretends that limiting abortion would be a kind of racism, as women belonging to minorities resort more to abortion than others.
The brief also cites a report by Nils Muižnieks, former Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, entitled Women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights in Europe (2017). This document is presented as “official,” whereas it was prepared by the Europe Program at the Center for Reproductive Rights (as acknowledged page 4). The Center for Reproductive Rights, already mentioned above, is the lead pro-abortion advocacy group that Mrs. Upreti previously worked for. It is financed, inter alia, by the Open Society, MacArthur, and Ford Foundations. Nils Muižnieks, himself, was also director of programs of the Open Society of Latvia until 2012. In 2009, he explained that the Open Society wishes to create a new man - homo sorosensus [in reference to Soros] – a man of opened society.
The brief also made references to the CEDAW and the Human Rights Committee (HRC), especially its recent revision of General Comment No. 36 on the right to life, which recent revision was primarily aimed at pushing for abortion’s “right.” Most of the discussions and time were dedicated to this issue, the majority of the HRC trying to push as far as possible, considering that States should allow abortion in case of rape, incest, or where the baby is not viable, as well as where the pregnancy endangers the life and health of the mother. Although this text is already broad, the brief even tried to introduce the false idea that this text requires States to allow abortion even more broadly (see page 5, the insertion of the word “including” within the original quote).
More broadly, it should be recalled that the findings and the comments of the U.N. Treaty bodies are not binding, as well as the other experts’ reports cited in the brief; they are aimed at “advising” and “monitoring,” not imposing or creating new norms. Their authority derives from the U.N. treaties and depends on their fidelity to them. This is why, for example, the General Comment on the right to life is so contested, as it pretends to affirm a right to abortion based on the opposite right to life. Such affirmation is clearly in contradiction with the treaties, except in case of “abortion” for the sake of the life of the mother.
Such pressure by U.N. bodies to try and impose the worldwide legalization of abortion has been recently addressed by a large group of States, who felt it necessary to recall, in the “Geneva Consensus Declaration on Promoting Women's Health and Strengthening the Family,” that there is no international duty to do so; in fact, there is an opposite duty to protect families and babies.
More generally, this experts’ brief to the Supreme Court is further evidence of the need to reform the Human Rights Council’s Special Procedures system in order to avoid appointing activists disguised as independent experts, opaquely paid by some groups, and who abuse their mandates, especially to promote a right to kill.
More references can be found in the ECLJ Report, The Financing of UN Experts (2021).