#SaveTheChildren from UNICEF

The UN Agency Has Long Been Soft on Pedophilia

On its “What we do” webpage, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) explains its mission this way:

UNICEF works in over 190 countries and territories to save children’s lives, to defend their rights, and to help them fulfil their potential, from early childhood through adolescence.

What’s not to like about that? Every parent wants these things for their children, and what non-parent wouldn’t agree with them, too? Well, as they say, sometimes the devil is in the details. Last month the Center for Family & Human Rights (C-Fam) reported that UNICEF’s Executive Board has approved a Strategic Plan for 2022-2025 endorsing sexual autonomy for children.

So, what is sexual autonomy?

Autonomy literally means “self-rule.” The idea goes beyond the obvious fact that people have free will and can therefore choose how they will behave. Autonomy includes the right to act independently, the right to govern oneself. It’s about moral independence. And so, sexual autonomy means having the “right” to decide moral codes for sex. Conferred upon children, it means children get to choose their gender identity, sexual orientation, and sexual behavior, including when, with whom, and how they will engage in sex. The Biden administration has endorsed the plan.

In the wake of #MeToo, shrewd adults might ask whether this move serves the interests of children … or of adults? Who benefits by conferring sexual autonomy “rights” onto children? I see two overlapping groups of people. First, sexual anarchists benefit. Those for whom no sexual boundary is a good boundary will no doubt go for sexualizing children early and often. Second, pedophiles benefit. Consider the following:

  • In 1987, the New York Times reported that the director of UNICEF for Belgium and his associates had been running a child porn studio. The scandal led to fourteen arrests in Belgium, Switzerland, France, and Britain.
  • In 2018, Peter Newell, a children’s rights advocate with UNICEF, was convicted of three counts of indecent assault and two counts of sodomy. He was sentenced to six years in prison. Prior to working for UNICEF, he had reportedly raped a boy over the course of three years, beginning when the boy was thirteen, and pled guilty to the charges. Meanwhile, he is also one of two authors of UNICEF’s Implementation Handbook for the Convention on the Rights of the Child (2007). This means the UN handbook for instructing policymakers worldwide was coauthored by a convicted child rapist.
  • A former UN official, now associated with www.HearTheirCries.org said, “The United Nations is by far the biggest harborer of pedophiles in the world. They prey on children with alarming regularity during their many years of UN employment throughout the world.”

These examples of blatant sexual exploitation are taken from Kimberly Ells’s The Invincible Family: Why the Global Campaign to Crush Motherhood and Fatherhood Can’t Win (2020). But it’s only a sampling. There are more (see Blood over Busybodies from Salvo 56). UN agencies provide exceptionally “safe” hunting grounds for sexual predators, Ells says. Not only does the blue UN uniform confer on officials a façade of trustworthiness, but bureaucratic red tape effects layers of protection up to and including diplomatic immunity, thus insulating offenders from accountability.

It seems the best accountability is a watchful public. Earlier in 2021, UNICEF had endorsed a report saying that pornography was not only not harmful to children but could actually make them happy. Thankfully, after C-Fam publicized the matter, UNICEF removed the report from its website. This is not to say that all UNICEF functionaries are predatory, but who besides pornographers and predators would put out a report saying porn makes children happy?

Traditionally, social mores have held that children should be protected from premature sexualization. No doubt, that has had something to do with the fact that sex makes babies, and it takes adults to care for babies. But it has also been driven by the recognition that children can be vulnerable to the designs of lecherous adults. This is why we have statutory rape laws and laws against child molestation. These laws hold the adult responsible when sex acts take place between adults and minors, even if the acts are said to be consensual. This is in recognition of a kind of “power imbalance” between the adult and the minor, born of the understanding that children are malleable and defenseless.

Officially, the UN recognizes parents as the primary authorities over the lives of their children. The UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, Articles 5, 14, and 18 all say that the state must respect the rights and responsibilities of parents to guide their children. These provisions are all well and good because no diplomat, agency, or field operative will ever love a child the way a parent does. Clearly there are disconnects between UN stated intent and practices when it comes to children and sex, and these parent-prioritizing aspects of UN declarations need to be recalled and shored up.

Back to the UNICEF Strategic Plan, it’s long – very long – on lofty-ish language and short on boundaries, limitations, and accountability. It’s a combination that serves the interests of pedophiles and predators far too neatly.

 is Deputy Editor of Salvo and writes on apologetics and matters of faith.

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