The Holy See at the United Nations: An Obstacle to Women’s Reproductive Health and Rights


This briefing paper calls into question the legitimacy of the Holy See’s status as a Non-Member State Permanent Observer and illustrates how this status is used to obstruct women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights.

The Roman Catholic Church is uniquely positioned to influence international policy-making. It speaks on issues of concern for its religious followers in numerous nations around the world. At the international level, the Roman Catholic Church uses its distinctive position at the United Nations to affect a wide range of global issues, including international economic development, women’s status, population, and family planning. Although the Roman Catholic Church pursues many admirable strategies towards poverty eradication and economic development, it undermines its own advocacy on these issues by taking positions that run counter to the equality and empowerment of women – one half of the world’s people.