A Study of Religious NGOs at the United Nations
This study focuses on religiously motivated lobbying groups at the UN. This process engages powerful alliances across religious divides – Catholics and Mormons; Christians and Muslims; Russian Orthodox and American fundamentalists find common ground on traditional values at the UN.
The conservative religious lobbies comprise constellations of different organizations with various religious affiliations. However, conservative Christian actors constitute a particularly influential bloc wedded to a distinctly conservative social agenda and motivated by pre-modern ideas about family politics, gender issues and women’s health. Their influence does not reflect their number but is largely due to a striking ability to build alliances across religious boundaries as well as elicit the support of religious communities around the world.
This loose coalition of conservative, Christian and mainly US-based NGOs is unified by a critical and defensive stand against modern socio-political developments (secularisation, feminism, the sexual revolution), which they see as a serious threat, not only to religion, but to society, which depends for its stability on traditional moral values and a patriarchal social order, framed as “family values”, and conceived as absolute moral standards laid down in pre-modern sacred texts or authoritative religious teachings.
In addition to their engagement in UN committee work, the religious NGOs are effective at reaching out to member states on pro-family values and against a liberal SRHR-agenda at the UN General Assembly. Their long-term aim is to build a permanent pro-family bloc among conservative member states from Muslim and developing countries. To this end they pursue a strategy carved out by the Vatican. Having a special status as permanent observer state to the General Assembly, the Vatican has full access to the entire UN system, and plays a key role among religious actors.