The statement also speaks of the inviolable right to life at every stage of development, noting that many members of the last two generations “consider themselves survivors by virtue of our being born at all.”
Its authors and signers affirm the naturalness and complementarity of the two sexes, and hold that a “proper understanding of sexuality and healthy relationships” is essential to society's common good.
Ament told CNA that the declaration received positive responses both at the popular level, and in the General Assembly where it was read aloud on July 25.
“Countries were applauding the statement being read,” he recalled.
Katherine Nikas, who worked with the coalition as part of the Alliance Defense Fund's Blackstone Legal Fellowship, said it was “incredible to see the amount of young people who are actually on our side – the young people who wanted a different voice, who stood up for family values.”
Nikas said she has found that many members of her generation are “tired of the pain and the heartache of just having abortions pushed at us and condoms thrown at us.”
But Ament expressed disappointment at the U.N. meeting's outcome document, saying the international body “still isn't taking seriously the mutual dialogue with people who don't value abortion and things like that.”
“Unfortunately, the U.N. documents – especially the one that's reaffirmed by the high-level meeting on youth – promote a disintegration of the family,” he said.
“They want parental consent rules, and things like that, to be abolished wherever they're found, and they want youth to have rights outside the context of their families – which is in contradiction to larger documents from the U.N., like the Convention on the Rights of the Child.”
And while the International Youth Coalition's statement received positive responses in the assembly, Ament said many of the group's associates faced administrative hurdles that may indicate hostility to their viewpoint.
“A lot of our fellows who came to participate had their confirmation letters revoked, because the U.N. said there wasn't enough space for them,” he said. “As we've looked in the General Assembly over the past few days, the non-governmental organization galleries are empty except for a few people. So there's plenty of space for our fellows, but they weren't allowed in.”
He believes the meeting's structure also tends to block the kind of discussions the U.N. claims to be facilitating.
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“If the U.N. really wants to have a mutual dialogue and understanding, then they need to set up discussion panels, instead of meetings that only have the country representatives speak and don't have any youth speak.”
The coalition's director said he still intends to “keep pushing forward” at the U.N. “The pro-life and pro-family movement hasn't paid enough attention to these international institutions,” he said. “We have lot of work to do.”
“The system at the U.N., at lower levels, tries to filter us out. But if we were able to actually get in there, I think we'd have a lot more support than they would like.”
Ament said some of the unexpected positive responses to the statement gave him hope for building a consensus.
“When we were doing the signature campaign, we had people – particularly in France – who really liked the statement. But they had one problem with it: they didn't like the mention of God in the preamble.”
Those were the people, he said, “that we really wanted to touch,” by speaking about “natural values that even someone who doesn't believe in the religious beliefs we believe in can see.”