“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.
“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.”
He valued these readers' response to the principles of natural law, despite their ambivalence to make a public statement of faith.
(Story continues below)
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“That was something we really appreciated, even though some of them said they wouldn't sign it because of the mention of God.”
“I think that really says … that it's not just our side saying something that we believe. It's something that's fundamental.”