On January 28, President Joe Biden withdrew the United States from the block of signatory countries of the Geneva Consensus Declaration (GCD). 34 signatory countries remain. The document affirms that there is no “right to abortion” and that the health of women must be promoted by respecting human life from conception, strengthening the family and respecting the sovereignty of each nation.
The GCD, signed on October 22, 2020, is an unprecedented diplomatic instrument that allows the signatory countries to defend themselves against ideological impositions on the part of international organizations.
How did the initiative come about? What to expect with the exit of the US government? Is it possible to strengthen the block? At the request of the Political Network for Values, Jacqueline Halbig Von Schleppenbach responds from Washington to these questions. She is CEO of Sovereign Global Solutions and a member of our network’s body of experts; she closely accompanied the creation of the GCD and was a consultant to the block.
How was the GCD developed and from whom did the initiative originate?
Valerie Huber, Special Representative for the Office of Global Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services during the Trump administration assisted the United States in terms of strategy and negotiations in the multi-lateral fora, including the United Nations and the Organization of American States. The United Nations and these other multi lateral organizations are famous for bullying and manipulating developing countries into receiving aid that in turn violates their values. They often feel bullied into making changes that they do not agree with in their nation’s own domestic policy.
It occurred to Valerie that one way we could support countries that embrace the dignity of human life and protections for the family would be by the forming of a coalition that would allow such countries to form a bond and stand together against the coercive tactics used against them and to which they often succumb.
During the two years that preceded the formation of the GCD, Secretary Alex Azar and Secretary Mike Pompeo held meetings and social gatherings with country representatives in Washington so that leaders could become familiar with one another and with the U.S. position on the above-mentioned values. These events helped lay some of the groundwork. In 2020 the GCD was drafted and shared with numerous countries, of which there were 34 signers in addition to the United States.
Were you expecting to have such broad support? Are you expecting more governments to join?
We approached as many countries as we could and which we thought may be interested in joining. The GCD far exceeded the cosigners of previous agreements and statements, led also by the United States. The biggest prior to the GCD had 25 signers. One NGO issued a statement saying that they had been trying to accomplish this very goal of forming a coalition of like-minded countries to stand together for nearly 20 years. We are very pleased with the showing because it means that our values are shared and that other countries are interested in protecting their sovereignty from the manipulation by the United Nations. We are still hoping for more countries to sign on to the GCD. If we could achieve 35 in a short time, I am certain we could achieve even greater numbers.
The adhesion to the Consensus seems to show that the defense of life, the family and the respect for national sovereignty are values that cannot and should not be renounced even in a very heterogeneous society. It seems to point out that they are values that possess strong political appeal. Is this perception correct?
Yes, I believe that you are correct. Many countries have discussed and decided their own policy positions which reflect their internal values. While our values are constantly under attack, they are also really important. Sovereign nations have a right to decide their own laws and policies and should NEVER be coerced.
When President Trump spoke to the United Nations, he spoke as the leader of the United States and said “For nations who wish to rule themselves, exercise their God given sovereignty to do so. If you want democracy hold onto to your sovereignty. Wise leaders put the good of their own people and own country first. The future does not belong to globalists. The future belongs to sovereign and independent nations who protect their citizens and honor their neighbors and honor the differences among them.’”
So while there may be variance among the laws of the countries that belong to the GCD, it seems to me that they all strongly wish to make their own decisions and to rule their own people and I think that the citizens of these nations wish to put their allegiance to their own country first. The GCD reinforces and supports their decision to do just that.
Is the GCD really an effective instrument for local (national) political representatives to resist external ideological pressures? Are there any other instruments comparable to this one currently?
The GCD is the only instrument of it’s kind. It is unprecedented and historic. It brings together sovereign nations from all the regions of the world, including the South Pacific. If the communications and commitment among the GCD countries is kept strong it CAN be very effective. Its effectiveness will depend on the strength and will of the countries as well as their coordination. National legislators of those countries which are a part of the GCD should encourage and remind their executive leadership of their commitment to stand up together with the other countries and resist the significant bullying tactics of the United Nations which threatens their sovereignty.
How does the configuration of the group of countries leading the GCD now look with the end of Trump’s administration? What to expect?
The GCD has 35 countries at the moment. The Biden administration has announced already that they will remove the United States from the GCD on January 28th. Because every initiative, especially such an unprecedented and nascent coalition, needs to be able to follow a leader. I am very grateful that Brazil has agreed to take the lead, and stand in the place of the U.S. to coordinate the efforts of the GCD countries. So while I cannot speak for how they will do this, I do know that Brazil is very committed to the GCD and to continuing to work to grow the effort.
Many countries will need encouragement even though they have signed on to the declaration. They will always need to be reinforced in their commitments. We know that Kenya for example has received pressure by international pro-abortion groups to withdraw themselves from the GCD.
While the GCD must be signed onto by sovereign nations, a decision made by the Executive [ typically the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or and Ministry of Health], it is very important and most helpful when NGOs, and legislators also become a mouthpiece and an encouragement to speak about the GCD to your leaders.
Read the full Geneva Consensus Declaration here