Past Newsworthy Dads

UN Watchdog

Piero Tozzi left a prestigious New York law firm to become Executive Vice President and General Counsel of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-Fam), which monitors issues at the United Nations. A graduate of Fordham Law School, he lives on Long Island with his wife and their children, and serves as Advocate for the Knights of Columbus New Hyde Park Council #2852. Fathers for Good spoke to him soon after he received the Charles Carroll Award from the New York Catholic Lawyers Guild on February 5th.

Fathers for Good: What issues should Catholics be most concerned about at the United Nations these days?

Piero Tozzi

Tozzi: Consistent with the mission the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM) to defend life and family at the UN, let’s break your question into two parts – what is the biggest threat to life from the UN, and what is the biggest threat to family?

Regarding life, there is currently a push to expand abortion globally, under the guise of reducing maternal mortality in the developing world. It is really the old population control agenda in different garb, and it is being pushed by a variety of UN agencies, including the United Nations Population Fund (or UNFPA) and UNICEF.

We know that the surest way to reduce maternal mortality in the developing world is through common-sense measures like providing clean water, antibiotics and trained obstetricians. In addition to taking the life of an unborn child, surgical and chemical abortions under unsanitary conditions in the developing world lead to serious complications, endangering the life and health of the mother.

Countries that protect unborn life should be applauded, not scolded. Ireland has very restrictive abortion laws and one of the lowest rates of maternal mortality in the world. Several years ago Nicaragua strengthened its laws protecting the unborn, and it came under unprecedented pressure from UN agencies and certain pro-abortion donor countries like Sweden, which cut millions of aid dollars.

Yet the preliminary evidence indicates that since the change in law, Nicaragua has also reduced maternal death rates. Malaysia has also lowered maternal mortality while protecting life. So the choice pitting mothers against children is a false one; we can and should help both.

With regard to family, we see efforts to promote something called the “Yogyakarta Principles on sexual orientation and gender identity.” It is basically a call to implement the homosexual agenda on a global scale, including in public school classrooms, where parents would not be allowed to opt their children out of classes. I have written an article about it.

FFG: What can the average Catholic do about these issues?

Tozzi: The first thing to do is get informed. C-FAM’s website is a good source for what is happening at the UN from a perspective faithful to the Church’s magisterium. You can also sign up to receive our “Friday Fax” – really a Thursday e-mail – which contains two news articles weekly about the battle for life and family at the UN.  Another useful site is the Holy See’s mission to the UN. Once informed, contact Congress. For example, there are two UN treaties which the U.S. Senate has yet to ratify, and with good reason. Yet the new administration in Washington is pushing ratification.

The first is CEDAW, or the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Although CEDAW nowhere mentions abortion, the committee charged with overseeing its implementation constantly pressures countries to liberalize abortion laws.

The other treaty to be concerned about is the Convention on the Rights of the Child, or CRC. The good stuff in that treaty, such as a reference to prenatal life, it is outweighed by the bad. One anti-family provision basically says parents should not interfere with their children’s privacy or “correspondence.” This means that a child – defined as anyone under age 18 – has a “right” to correspond with anyone of any age anywhere.  With Internet predators and child trafficking, parents should know who their children are corresponding with – and not be deemed potential violators of a sloppily drafted treaty. I would urge my Senators to oppose ratification of both these treaties.

The Obama administration has also said it would resume UNFPA funding. President Bush cut off funds to this abortion-pushing UN agency after our State Department determined it was complicit in China’s draconian one-child policy.

The one-child policy has led to forced late-term abortions, as well as sex-selection abortion targeting unborn girls, leading to more boys than girls. Honest feminists call this “gender-cide:” Even if one is “pro-choice,” where is the choice in forced abortion? How does sex-selective abortion targeting females help advance women’s equality? Congress should not fund UNFPA!

FFG: Do you see any effect of Pope Benedict's talk at the UN last April? Is C-FAM pushing a particular theme from the talk?

Tozzi: The effect has been mixed. I had hoped to see a deeper, more lasting effect. There was some reflection this past December on universal values in connection with the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but you also saw an attempt to co-opt the anniversary by proponents of the Yogyakarta Principles.

C-FAM published a Briefing Paper following the Holy Father’s UN visit last April entitled “Faith in the UN: Pope Benedict’s Proposal.” It analyzes the Holy Father’s speech, and like all our publications, is available for free on our website. Basically, the Holy Father upheld the dignity of the human person, which is essential if the UN is to promote peace and justice. He warned, however, that the new version of “rights” being promoted at the UN often undermines human dignity, and thus would render the noble aims of the UN unachievable.

Day-in-and-day out you do see statements made by certain ambassadors that reflect a world view consistent with that of the Pope.  Ambassadors from Malta and Fiji have made a number of strong interventions in defense of life and family, and of course the Holy See also promotes the themes outlined by the pope.

In our work defending life and family, C-FAM constantly reiterates the theme of defending the dignity of the human person.

(Read an excerpt from Tozzi’s acceptance speech at the Carroll Awards.)