Wed | Apr 14, 2021

Elyssa Koren | Int’l efforts seek to redefine Jamaican laws and values

Published:Friday | March 26, 2021 | 12:08 AM
Elyssa Koren
Elyssa Koren
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The United Nations (UN) bureaucracy has its sights set on the Caribbean, and that is not a good thing. Allow me to elaborate. As an international human rights lawyer with a decade experience working at the UN, I have had a front row seat to observe the efforts of the institution to dismantle laws and policies reflective of traditional values in countries across the world. Jamaica, at this very moment, is at the epicentre of these efforts.

Why Jamaica? Your country is one rich in national tradition – one that upholds family, faith, and freedom. At the same time, you face the very serious struggles of a developing nation. This presents the perfect recipe for international incursions – a country in need of development assistance, but with a firm commitment to a tradition that is painted as “backwards” or “retrogressive” by international bureaucrats.

It is well understood that should Jamaica capitulate to UN pressures, the rest of the region is bound to follow in a rapid domino effect, triggering the collapse of long-standing cultural norms. It is against this backdrop that UNFPA, UN Women, and others have zeroed in on Jamaica for the implementation of their extremist agenda. Put simply, they get a very big bang for their buck if they take Jamaica.

Queue the large sums of money that are flooding your island. For the period 2017-2021, UNFPA’s regular budget for the English- and Dutch- speaking Caribbean is US$16.8 million, with a stated goal of ensuring all countries allow adolescents access to abortion, in defiance of national laws. Funds designated for urgent needs surrounding exceedingly high HIV/AIDS prevalence and the pervasive problem of violence against women and girls provide an entry point for the UN bureaucracy to infiltrate. Hiding behind these essential services are thinly veiled attempts to fundamentally recraft the entire social fabric of your country.

TAKING OVER EDUCATION

A primary means by which they seek to achieve this is by taking over the education of your children in the name of “comprehensive sexuality education” (CSE). The emphasis on children provides a straightforward path for the fundamental reconstitution of Jamaican society. This is why various agencies of the UN have partnered with the European Union to commence the Spotlight Initiative. Aimed at combating gender-based violence, the initiative’s positive mandate belies a much more sinister reality. Announced in February, Spotlight will serve as the vehicle by which the UN brings CSE to Jamaica, and across CARICOM at large.

Lest you dismiss these concerns as alarmist, verify them for yourself – watch this film and read the most recent Guidance. At UN Headquarters, I directly observe the push by powerful countries to force governments of the developing world to adopt radical education programmes that essentially disconnect children from the authority of their parents. The insistence is on teaching children that they can determine their own gender, procure their own “sexual and reproductive health services” (meaning abortion), and make their own choices regarding high-risk activities, all without the consent of their parents.

With Spotlight investing a cool US$8 million, funded by the EU, over the next three years in Jamaica, it is undeniable that Jamaica and other Caribbean states will be under immense pressure to accept the strings that come attached to the UN’s plan. Knowing that CSE comes embedded in this plan, we can anticipate what these strings will be: both in school and after-school programmes for children, starting at the youngest of primary school ages, on topics that would scandalise and outrage any Jamaican concerned with the sound upbringing of their children. The plan is to move forward regardless of what UNFPA Caribbean notes as “resistance from teachers to teaching CSE” (due to obvious objections), steamrollering opposition.

RAMP UP ENGAGEMENT

As Jamaica faces national questions on abortion and other issues of immense social concern, it is not surprising that international forces have decided to ramp up their engagement. Under international law, governments are under no obligation to permit abortion. However, as I wrote in Newsweek, the spread of the global abortion agenda is an entrenched component of the UN’s development efforts. The use of COVID-19 relief funds to pressure countries to liberalise abortion laws is but one example.

A flurry of job postings and workshops in the Caribbean hosted by UNFPA and others reveals the seriousness with which they are approaching this endeavour. Do not allow the clout and apparent legitimacy of the UN to obscure what is happening here. These radical agendas take the focus away from the legitimate needs Jamaicans so urgently deserve to see met. CSE is not going to solve the problem of gender-based violence, and without authentic solutions to these issues, they will persist.

UN Women’s description of the Spotlight Initiative states that it will promote CSE “in line with international standards” to promote norms “in relation to women and girls’ sexuality and reproduction”. This is a manifest distortion of international law, which in no way recognises an obligation to implement CSE. Further, as enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, of which Jamaica is a state party, parents have the primary responsibility for the upbringing and development of children. Contrary to the deceptive messaging of UN Women, CSE implementation would in fact position Jamaica in violation of its international obligations to keep parents at the front and centre of their children’s education.

Back at the UN, your government has represented Jamaica with pride, staying true to its authentic international obligations and resisting relentless pressure to compromise the values Jamaicans hold dear. Africa, Latin America, and other parts of the developing world are under similar assaults. If Jamaica stays true, it is no exaggeration to say that the entire world stands to benefit. I urge you to say no to international efforts that seek to redefine the very core of the Caribbean ethos. Resist any and all attempts to dictate from the outside your stance on issues that should be decided by Jamaicans for Jamaica.

- Elyssa Koren is the director of United Nations advocacy in New York City for ADF International. Elyssa can be found on Twitter: @Elyssa_ADFIntl.