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Article 1.  As a matter of scientific fact a new human life begins at conception.


Article 2.  Each human life is a continuum that begins at conception and advances in stages until death. Science gives different names to these stages, including zygote, blastocyst, embryo, fetus, infant, child, adolescent and adult. This does not change the scientific consensus that at all points of development each individual is a living member of the human species.


Article 3.  From conception each unborn child is by nature a human being.


Article 4.  All human beings, as members of the human family, are entitled to recognition of their inherent dignity and to protection of their inalienable human rights.  This is recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and other international instruments.


Article 5.  There exists no right to abortion under international law, either by way of treaty obligation or under customary international law.  No United Nations treaty can accurately be cited as establishing or recognizing a right to abortion.


Article 6.  The Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW Committee) and other treaty monitoring bodies have directed governments to change their laws on abortion.  These bodies have explicitly or implicitly interpreted the treaties to which they are subject as including a right to abortion.

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Treaty monitoring bodies have no authority, either under the treaties that created them or under general international law, to interpret these treaties in ways that create new state obligations or that alter the substance of the treaties.


Accordingly, any such body that interprets a treaty to include a right to abortion acts beyond its authority and contrary to its mandate. Such ultra vires acts do not create any legal obligations for states parties to the treaty, nor should states accept them as contributing to the formation of new customary international law.


Article 7.  Assertions by international agencies or non-governmental actors that abortion is a human right are false and should be rejected.


There is no international legal obligation to provide access to abortion based on any ground, including but not limited to health, privacy or sexual autonomy, or non-discrimination.


Article 8.  Under basic principles of treaty interpretation in international law, consistent with the obligations of good faith and pacta sunt servanda, and in the exercise of their responsibility to defend the lives of their people, states may and should invoke treaty provisions guaranteeing the right to life as encompassing a state responsibility to protect the unborn child from abortion.


Article 9.  Governments and members of society should ensure that national laws and policies protect the human right to life from conception. They should also reject and condemn pressure to adopt laws that legalize or depenalize abortion.


Treaty monitoring bodies, United Nations agencies and officers, regional and national courts, and others should desist from implicit or explicit assertions of a right to abortion based upon international law.


When such false assertions are made, or pressures exerted, member states should demand accountability from the United Nations system.

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Providers of development aid should not promote or fund abortions.  They should not make aid conditional on a recipient’s acceptance of abortion.


International maternal and child health care funding and programs should ensure a healthy outcome of pregnancy for both mother and child and should help mothers welcome new life in all circumstances.



We — human rights lawyers and advocates, scholars, elected officials, diplomats, and medical and international policy experts — hereby affirm these Articles.


San Jose, Costa Rica

March 25, 2011



* Institutions named for identifications purposes only.




Lord David Alton, House of Lords, Great Britain


Dr. Gerardo Amarilla De Nicola, National Representative for Rivera, Eastern Republic of Uruguay


Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight, Knights of Columbus


Giuseppe Benagiano, Professor of Gynecology, Perinatology and Childcare – Università “la Sapienza”, Rome, former Secretary General – International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO)


Professor William Binchy, Professor of Law, Trinity College Dublin, member of the Irish Human Rights Commission


Hon. Javier Borrego, former Judge, European Court of Human Rights

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Christine Boutin, former Cabinet Minister – Government of France, current president Christian Democratic Party


Benjamin Bull, Chief Counsel, Alliance Defense Fund


Hon. Martha De Casco, Member of Parliament, Honduras


Hon. Tom Coburn M.D., Member, United States Senate


Jakob Cornides, human rights lawyer


Jan Figel’, Government Minister (for Transport) of the Slovak Republic, Deputy Prime Minister, President of the Christian Democratic Party (KDH), former EU Commissioner for Education and Culture


Professor John Finnis, Oxford University, University of Notre Dame


Professor Robert George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University, former member of the President’s Council on Bioethics


Professor John Haldane, Professor of Philosophy, University of St. Andrews


Christian Hillgruber, Professor for Constitutional and Public Law at the Friedrich-Wilhelm University, Germany.


Patrick Kelly, Vice President for Public Policy, Knights of Columbus


Professor Elard Koch, Faculty of Medicine, University of Chile


Professor Santiago Legarre, Professor of Law, Pontificia Universidad Catolica Argentina


Leonard Leo, Former Delegate to the UN Human Rights Commission


Yuri Mantilla, Director, International Government Affairs, Focus on the Family


Hon. Elizabeth Montfort, former Member of the European Parliament


Senator Rónán Mullen, Member of the Irish Senate


Cristobal Orrego, Professor of Jurisprudence, University of the Andes (Chile)


Alojz Peterle, Member of the European Parliament, Slovenia, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister of Slovenia


Bernd Posselt, Member of the European Parliament, Germany


Gregor Puppinck, Executive Director, European Center for Law and Justice


Ambassador Grover Joseph Rees, former US Ambassador to East Timor, Special US Representative to the UN on social issues


Austin Ruse, President, C-FAM


William Saunders, Human Right Lawyer, Senior Vice President, Americans United for Life, former delegate to the UN General Assembly


Alan Sears, President, CEO and General Counsel, Alliance Defense Fund


Marie Smith, President, Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues


Professor Carter Snead, Member, International Bioethics Committee, UNESCO and former U.S. Permanent Observer to the Council of Europe’s Steering Committee on Bioethics, University of Notre Dame School of Law


Prof. Dr. Manfred Spieker, Professor for Christian Social Sciences, University of Osnabrück, Germany


Douglas Sylva, Delegate to the UN General Assembly


Hon. Francisco Tatad, former Majority Leader, Philippine Senate


Ambassador Alberto Vollmer, former Ambassador of Venezuela to the Holy See


Christine de Marcellus Vollmer, President of the Latin American Alliance for the Family


Hon. Luca Volonte, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, President of the European People’s Party (PACE)


Lord Nicholas Windsor, Member of the Royal Family of the United Kingdom


Susan Yoshihara, Director, International Organizations Research Group


Anna Zaborska, Member of the European Parliament, former Chair, Women’s Committee of the European Parliament

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