NEW YORK, October 8 (C-Fam) UNICEF’s Executive Board has approved a strategic plan that endorses sexual autonomy for children and school-based access to abortion and contraception.
The new strategic plan, which will guide the agency through 2025, added “sexual and reproductive health and rights” and “sexual orientation and gender identity” to the agency’s mandate for the first time. The Biden administration endorsed the new plan.
UNICEF already promoted the ability of adolescents to make autonomous decisions about their sexuality and the presence of sexuality education and sexual health services for children in schools. But this was the first time these had appeared in UNICEF’s internal strategic documents with the approval of UN member states, as the Friday Fax reported in August.
Thirty-six nations that sit on the UNICEF Executive Board endorsed the new plan with the disclaimer that it was not negotiated by UN Member States and that it “includes some terms that have not been intergovernmentally endorsed in the United Nations system.” The decision does not identify the terms in the strategic plan covered by the disclaimer.
The plan further protects Member States by directing the agency to implement the strategic plan “in accordance with the principles of national ownership of programme countries, taking into account their national priorities and needs, recognizing their different contexts and particular characteristics, guided by international human rights treaties and humanitarian principles for humanitarian assistance.”
“Sexual and reproductive health and rights” is a term of art coined by countries and groups to promote abortion, LGBT rights, and sexual autonomy for children. The General Assembly rejected the controversial term when it was first proposed in the negotiations of the Sustainable Development Goals in 2013 and has rejected it repeatedly in UN negotiations each year since. A large number of UN member states also continue to object to “sexual orientation and gender identity” in UN documents.
The official twitter account of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations praised UNICEF and other UN agencies who also added “sexual and reproductive health and rights” to their mandate recently.
“We commend UNDP, UNFPA, UNOPS, UNICEF, and UN Women on the successful advancement of the 2022-2025 Strategic Plans and for recognizing the importance of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights to accelerating progress toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals,” the tweet reads.
Until this year, the controversial term had only been endorsed in the mandate of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). “Sexual orientation and gender identity” had not been included in any previous strategic plans of UN agencies.
Iran expressed “deep concern” with the inclusion of the terms “sexual orientation and gender identity, sexual rights, comprehensive sexuality education, programming gender in a transformative way” in the plan.
“Iran and a number of delegations have, on numerous occasions, expressed our opposition on the inclusion of such terms in UN documents,” they said.
The Russian Federation also made statement distancing itself from the controversial terminology in the new UNICEF plan.