The Common Declaration of the Bishops of Africa and Madagascar is a statement issued by 45 Catholic bishops from 40 African countries in June 2015, in the lead up to the New York Summit for the adoption of a Post-2015 Global Development Agenda.
The declaration is addressed to African Heads of State, the Secretary General of the United Nations, the officials of pan-African institutions and of International Organizations, partners in global governance and development donors, and “the sons and daughters of [their] beloved African continent”. It attacks advocates of sexual and reproductive health and rights as “the agents of the civilization of death”, and suggests that they are part of a wealthy “transnational ‘reproductive rights’ lobby”, which is trying to control the growth of African populations.
“The billions of dollars allotted to the production and distribution of condoms and contraceptives and to the establishment of sex-education programs that do not respect universal moral norms are a scandal that cries to heaven for vengeance, a new slavery at the service of the idol “money.”
The declaration manipulates both anti-colonial and anti-capitalist discourses to argue against contraception and abortion:
“We, African Pastors, do not want Africans to be reduced to “servile partners.” This is a new type of slavery! We want the dignity of our people to be respected. No! Africa is not a great potential market for the pharmaceutical industry of contraceptives and condoms.”
“…we observe with profound pain that our pan-African institutions have been, since their creation, under the yoke of neo-colonizing lobbies. In 2003, these lobbies made the newly formed African Union adopt the Protocol to the African Charter on Human Rights and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, the first international treaty to shamefully recognize abortion as a right of women.”
Disregarding long histories of African women’s struggles for rights, and the ongoing efforts of African advocates for women’s rights, including sexual and reproductive rights, the statement claims that such ideas are only the agenda of “the West” and makes fallacious claims about a homogenous “African culture”.
“Selfish and perverse interests are imposing themselves on our continent with a speed that keeps on accelerating, with unabated aggressiveness, in an ever more organized and powerfully financed manner, introducing individualism and hedonism, both of which are so foreign to what we are and want to be, into our societies.”
“By what right do western NGOs, who only represent their own ideological interests, claim to legally bind African states to their world vision?”