A controversial UN official ended his tenure this week in Geneva the same way it began, by promoting abortion. Paul Hunt, outgoing Special Rapporteur on the Highest Attainable Standard to Physical and Mental Health Paul Hunt presented his last report to the Human Rights Council (HRC), claiming that states have a legal obligation to provide "sexual and reproductive health services."
In his report, Hunt claims that a state has core obligations to provide for what he terms a "minimum basket of health-related services" which include "sexual and reproductive health services including information, family planning, prenatal and post-natal services."
Hunt's latest report also briefly details some of his activities as special rapporteur over the last year. He touts a workshop he co-organized with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on "mainstreaming sexual and reproductive health rights into the work of the United Nations human rights system" last November. The terms "sexual and reproductive health rights" and "sexual and reproductive health services" have never been accepted in any binding UN document. Such mainstreaming of radical notions is a longtime project of Hunt and his colleagues at such UN agencies as UNFPA and also the UN Children's Fund.
Last December at a meeting in Geneva a number of governments expressed strong reservations about Hunt's promotion of abortion, as well as his role as a legal adviser with the Centre for Reproductive Health, a high-profile pro-abortion group. At the same meeting, Hunt also came under fire for using his position to help draft and endorse "The Yogyakarta Principles," a document which seeks to redefine existing and long-established human rights to include special rights such as legal recognition for same-sex marriage and homosexual adoption.
At the December meeting Egypt, Pakistan, Algeria and the Holy See spoke out. One delegate admonished Hunt and reiterated that there is no international consensus on abortion and that the attempts to force acceptance of abortion on the majority were "unacceptable."
Throughout his tenure as special rapporteur, Hunt courted controversy for his promotion of abortion and "sexual rights." Hunt revealed his staunch pro-abortion stance in his 2004 report where he argued that states are obliged to help women procure abortions. According to the 2004 report, "public health systems should train and equip health service providers and take other measures to ensure that such abortions are not only safe but accessible." Overall, states must work to eliminate "unsafe" abortions, presumably by removing all legal restrictions on abortions.
Although Hunt will not remain on as special rapporteur, he will continue to be active in the international health debate. At last year's pro-abortion Women Deliver Conference in London Hunt launched The International Initiative on Maternal Mortality and Human Rights, which is being spearheaded by the Center for Reproductive Rights. Some observers note with alarm that abortion proponents have increasingly been using the guise of reducing maternal mortality to pressure states to legalize and widen access to abortion.
Paul Hunt's term will expire in June 2008. The HRC is currently reviewing nominations for his replacement.