The UN Committee on Human Rights is currently reviewing its definition of “right to life” in international law through its mission to interpret the provisions of the international Pact on civil and political rights. In September, the European Centre for Law and Justice voiced its concerns about this review, which is seen as a means of “imposing on all states the legalisation of abortion, assisted suicide and euthanasia under the aegis of right to life” (see At the UN, new partial definition of the “right to life”). Discussions resumed on 1 November and six of the eighteen expert Committee Members expressed their views, including five who were in favour of abortion. According to the ECLJ, “Olivier de Frouville from France and Sarah Cleveland from America proved to be the most ardent supporters of a broad right to abortion, emphasising the need to impose the decriminalisation of and low-cost access to abortion”, considering “going beyond the original wording”. German expert, Ms. Seibert-Fohr, is the only person to oppose this “pro-abortion offensive”, “pointing out that article 6 of the Pact is intended to guarantee right to life” and that the “Committee cannot claim to outline a universal interpretation of right to life by overriding that of the regional courts, especially the European Court of Human Rights”.
The debate has also focused on “committee activism“. The experts have declared that, in their opinion, the Pact is a “living document” thus releasing them from “the obligation to interpret this treaty strictly” and giving themselves “the power to expand their interpretation, i.e. beyond the letter”.
The experts reconvened on 2 November. The debate can be followed on-line.