Obaid Uses Disabilities Treaty Language as New Access Point for “Reproductive Health”

Posted on | July 2, 2010 by Samantha Singson |

At a panel presentation on human rights and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) yesterday, UNFPA’s executive director Thoraya Obaid made her standard pitch about how “”universal access to reproductive health”" is needed to achieve the MDGs. At the end of her remarks, however, Obaid diverged from prepared text to “”remind”" audience members that “”reproductive health”" is a “”right”" that was most recently enshrined in the Disabilities Treaty which includes the phrase “”sexual and reproductive health.”"

The language that Obaid casually referred to in her off-script remarks yesterday were at the center of controversy and heated negotiations when the disabilities treaty was being drafted. During the four years of negotiations, countries stressed that the disabilities treaty was a non-discrimination treaty (meaning that it would furnish persons with disabilities with the same rights as everyone else) and does not create any new rights.

Pro-life advocates that worked on the Disabilities Treaty remind that while Obaid takes the line that the Disabilities Treaty shows that there is a new “”right to reproductive health,”" official reports of the treaty negotiations, however, underscored that the inclusion of the phrase “”sexual and reproductive health”" was “”not intended to alter”" policies with regard to “”family planning or related matters.”" The treaty does not affect the pro-life laws of member states that signed or ratified it.

Furthermore, when the General Assembly formally adopted the treaty in 2006, 15 nations made statements stating that “”sexual and reproductive health”" as excluding abortion.



Turtle Bay and Beyond is a blog covering international law, policy and institutions. Our experts - at the UN, European Institutions, and elsewhere - explore an authentic understanding of international law, sovereignty, and the dignity of the human person. We expose those who would seek to impose a radical social vision that is contrary to these principles.


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