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US Catcalled at UN Meeting-Abortion Stance

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US Draws Jeers for Abortion Comments at UN

Mar 4, 8:34 PM (ET)

By Deborah Zabarenko

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Jeers and catcalls greeted the top U.S. delegate to a global women's conference on Friday as she stressed Washington's opposition to abortion and support for sexual abstinence and fidelity.

After withdrawing an unpopular anti-abortion amendment from a key U.N. document, the United States joined in approving the declaration that reaffirmed a 150-page platform agreed 10 years ago at a landmark U.N. women's conference in Beijing.

The final approval prompted cheers, applause and a standing ovation by some participants.

However, top U.S. delegate Ellen Sauerbrey drew boos from the audience, which included some of the 6,000 activists who came from around the world, when she commented on Washington's interpretation of the document.

"We have stated clearly and on many occasions ... that we do not recognize abortion as a method of family planning, nor do we support abortion in our reproductive health assistance," Sauerbrey said.

The loudest catcalls, unusual at the world body, came when she articulated ."

How dare we ask for people to use condoms to prevent HIV-AIDS! :blink:

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More fallout with UN


UNITED NATIONS - A U.N. report on peacekeeper sex abuse released Thursday describes the U.N. military arm as deeply flawed and recommends withholding salaries of the guilty and requiring nations to pursue legal action against perpetrators.


Those recommendations and several others come after repeated allegations that peacekeepers exploited the very people they were sent to protect. The report described a troubled system where peacekeepers have often “failed to grasp the dangers confronting them, seduced by day-to-day conditions that can be viewed as benign.”

It said abuses had been reported in missions ranging from Bosnia and Kosovo to Cambodia, East Timor, West Africa and Congo. While allegations of abuse have dogged peacekeeping missions since their inception 50 years ago, the issue was thrust into the spotlight after the United Nations found earlier this year that peacekeepers in Congo had sex with Congolese women and girls, usually in exchange for food or small sums of money.

“You cannot understate the value of peacekeeping and what it can bring to a society, so for that reason I think we must restore it,” Prince Zeid al Hussein, Jordan’s U.N. ambassador and the author of the report, told The Associated Press before its release.

Proposing changes

Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed Zeid, who once served as a peacekeeper in Bosnia, to study the Congo abuses and propose changes to keep them from happening again.

One of his key tasks was finding ways to hold peacekeepers more accountable in a system where the United Nations has few legal means to take action and those accused of wrongdoing are often sent home and never punished.

The task is especially troublesome because the United Nations does not want to risk offending nations who provide scarce peacekeeping troops.

In the last several months, Zeid has discussed his proposals with nations that contribute the most troops — such as Pakistan, Morocco, Brazil and Bangladesh — and those that fund missions, like the United States.

“My feeling is that most of the principal troop contributing countries will agree to this formula,” he said.

  Click for related story

Security Council votes to send troops to Sudan

U.N. peacekeeping missions comprise soldiers, civilians and civilian police who are held to different standards of conduct. Investigators appointed to probe crimes often do not feel qualified to handle the cases.

And sometimes troops and civilians fail to understand the complexities of the countries where they deploy. That must be counteracted, the report said.

“There are at least some people in peacekeeping who perceive it as almost a form of camping,” Zeid said. “You can forget how wounded and traumatized the people you’re working with are. You can make assumptions that you’re entering into a normal consensual relationship if you’re a civilian staff member and often those assumptions may be misguided.”

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