First Take: UN Advocacy

| June 20, 2019

This is my first time blogging for the International Youth Coalition (IYC), which I’ve been asked to do each week in my work as an intern for the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam). The Coalition seems to boast a large number of writers, topics, and views on the mission to protect and promote human life and the family. I’ll do my best to make my own contribution, too, and I hope you find it somewhat valuable.

C-Fam does a significant bulk of its work specifically monitoring the United Nations (UN). Without a doubt, the highlight of my first week was getting to visit the UN as an official intern (not as one of those visiting tour groups) and seeing for myself what you only normally get to see in the news. One chamber after another was chock-full of diplomats and non-governmental organizations (NGO) representatives, getting ready to literally solve the world’s problems through civil discourse and multilateral efforts. And I was going to get to sit there, UN badge proudly slung around my neck, and watch it happen.

That idea wasn’t wrong or unrealistic—just probably a little too rosy a picture. Most of the work, it turns out, isn’t the presentation of a problem and a proceeding debate of some solution. Instead, delegates from varying national missions take turns reading prepared statements, their microphones invariably cut off when they speak for longer than their allotted time. Interpreters scramble to spin on-the-fly translations for those unable to understand the delegate’s chosen language of address. And the hours flow by as each statement talks past the one that preceded it, and pretty soon, it’s pretty clear nobody knows where there is agreement and disagreement.

It finally dawned on me that even where nations were meant to discuss issues—here’s a crazy idea: at the roundtable discussion–the only concern seems to be making statements for the record. Meanwhile, the main substance of the diplomatic work is done between missions after hours and behind closed doors before each nation comes out with its own statement for the gathering. And slowly, progress is (hopefully) made. So long as the diplomacy actually works, then of course, it doesn’t much matter what setting that occurs in. But as a part of C-Fam’s mission as an NGO, I find myself wondering: how on earth, when diplomats meet privately to discuss their positions, can we put ourselves in that room to make a real difference for the pro-family, pro-life cause?

The trick, I think, is to claim more and more real estate in the minds of these diplomats by meeting them at every turn with facts, figures, and voices in support of our cause. When hearing our voice becomes an increasing part of the life of a diplomat, we have good reason to believe that eventually, that diplomat will find themselves carrying in the back of their minds all the truth we have to share: truth about the critical role of the family; truth about the sanctity of life; and truth about the strength of our position in the vast numbers of people who support us around the world. This certainly isn’t to say that standing by these truths, especially on the international stage, will be easy. But armed with the truth and the support of millions of people, that task hopefully becomes a little more doable. Our voice is badly needed at the UN, where few would otherwise be inclined to support our cause.

As part of the IYC, I think this is how we can make a real difference: adding to the swell of voices calling for the protection of marriage, the family, life, and human dignity. I’ve found myself refreshed by some of the voices in these blogs, encouraging me to add my voice to this effort of critical importance. I’m proud to join—and I know I can’t really do much on my own, but as a real coalition, we can certainly make our voices heard.