Effort to Oust Vatican from UN
THE Rome-based news agency Inter Press Service (IPS) reported that "an international coalition of more than 70 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) has launched a global campaign to oust the Vatican from the United Nations." Presently, the Vatican is a permanent observer, or nonmember state, in the UN organization. The Vatican has had that status since 1964.
Why does this group of NGOs, which by the end of April last year had increased to 100 organizations worldwide, object to the Vatican?s position in the UN? Because the Vatican, the NGOs argue, is a religious authority and not a political state. Frances Kissling, president of Catholics for a Free Choice, told IPS that the coalition does not oppose the Vatican?s right to express its view, but "what is in question is the right of this non-state to occupy a position with governments."
Anika Rahman, director of International Programmes at the Centre for Reproductive Law and Policy, agrees. IPS quoted her as saying that "if the UN treats the Holy See as a state with permanent observer privileges because of its religious authority, the world body is creating a precedent for similar claims by other religions." She added: "To ensure that the United Nations does not promote any particular religion, religious entities such as the Roman Catholic Church should not be permitted to participate in this forum as a non-member state."
But what about the argument that the Vatican is a state and is therefore entitled to its present status? "That is semantic double-talk," responded Ms. Kissling in an interview. "We say that this is in essence a 15th-century definition of statehood and that the Holy See is, in effect, the governing structure of the religion." She added that the terms "Vatican" and "the Holy See" are both "synonyms for the Roman Catholic Church."
Much of the resentment of the NGOs against the Vatican?s current position in the UN is caused by the Vatican?s view on population issues. For instance, the Vatican has used UN conferences such as the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, in Cairo, and the 1995 Women?s Conference, in Beijing, to express its strong views against family planning. "Since the UN takes most of its decisions by consensus," notes IPS, "dissenting voices such as those of the Vatican have derailed negotiations on issues relating to population, contraception, women?s rights and reproductive health care."
According to Ms. Kissling, "the appropriate role for the Vatican is that of a NGO?the same as all the other NGOs representing Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Bahais and other religious organisations."The coalition wants UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and ultimately the UN General Assembly to conduct an official review of the place the Vatican occupies within the world?s largest political body.
No mentioin of Jehovahs Witness's .......I guess they are other religious organizations.