Press Releases

Biden Administration Repeals Global Gag Rule

NEW YORK — The Biden administration today rescinded the Global Gag Rule (also known as the “Mexico City Policy”'). It also ordered a review of the Trump administration’s “domestic gag rule,” which bars organizations participating in the Title X family planning program from providing abortion services.

First ordered by President Reagan in 1984, the Global Gag Rule blocks foreign organizations from receiving certain US funds if they provide abortion services, referrals, or information or if they advocate for changes to abortion laws in their country. Initially restricted to “family planning” funds, President Trump expanded the rule to apply to organizations receiving nearly any global health assistance funds.

Grant Shubin, legal director of the Global Justice Center, issued the following statement:

“We welcome the repeal of the disastrous Global Gag Rule. Now begins the critical work of communicating the new policy to the world. But let’s be clear — repealing Gag is the bare minimum. 

“The Biden administration should have also included in this executive order a provision allowing congressionally permitted exceptions for rape, life endangerment, and incest to the Helms Amendment, which is the legal foundation for Gag and has prohibited any U.S. foreign aid from going to abortion services since 1973. Reproductive rights activists should be worried that, like his predecessor, he will ultimately choose political expediency over survivors’ rights to access safe abortion services.

“We are also disappointed with the administration’s failure to consistently and explicitly use the word ‘abortion’ since taking office. The global and domestic rules directly target abortion services and by tiptoing around this fact, the Biden administration is stigmatizing abortion — a human right.

“The Biden administration can’t call itself a champion of women if it repeals Gag but leaves in place the patriarchal structure around it. The reproductive rights community has compiled a comprehensive agenda for sexual and reproductive health that details what is necessary. If we want to truly “build back better,” we must go beyond simply rolling back Trump’s policies and embrace a bold, feminist agenda for global health and human rights.”

United States Designates China’s Treatment of Uyghurs as Genocide

NEW YORK — The United States today declared China’s government is committing genocide and other international crimes against the Uyghurs, a largely Muslim ethnic minority living in western China. In the past, President-elect Joe Biden has also deemed the repression of Uyghurs genocide.

Grant Shubin, legal director of the Global Justice Center, issued the following statement:

“The United States is right to bring the brutal, years-long repression of the Uyghurs within the framework of genocide. What’s more, it correctly cited gendered crimes of biological destruction like forced sterilization and birth control. However, the human rights community should be alarmed at reports that this decision was motivated by policy goals instead of a legal obligation to prevent and punish genocide.

“Our legal and moral duty to combat genocide should inform our policy goals, not the other way around. The US should be applauded for taking action to prevent the destruction of the Uyghurs and we hope other nations join them. But we must see fighting genocide as a cause for humanity rather than a geopolitical wedge.

“We hope to see the US follow these strong words with decisive action. Where there is a risk of genocide, there is a duty to act. Moving forward, this designation should inform the entirety of US foreign policy and we hope to hear more from the incoming Biden administration on how it plans to follow through on this historic announcement.”

Myanmar Files Second Report to World Court on Compliance with Order to Protect Rohingya

NEW YORK — The government of Myanmar today filed its second report to the International Court of Justice on compliance with the court’s order to protect Rohingya from genocide. The report will not be made public at this time.

The court issued its “provisional measures” order in January. It required Myanmar to prevent genocidal acts, ensure military and police forces do not commit genocidal acts, preserve all evidence of genocidal acts, and report on compliance with these provisional measures. Reports to the court are due every six months after the first report in May.

Grant Shubin, legal director of the Global Justice Center, issued the following statement:

“We welcome Myanmar’s second report, but merely meeting the court’s technical deadlines is not enough. Since the provisional measures order was issued, Myanmar has done nothing to address the root causes of discrimination and impunity that give rise to the ongoing risk of genocide against the Rohingya.

“In fact, the government has ramped up discrimination with this month’s election that disenfranchised Rohingya voters and blocked Rohingya candidates from running for office. Meaningful compliance with the order requires comprehensive legal reform to dismantle systemic discrimination against the Rohingya and to strip the military of its supremacy and autonomy.”

UN Security Council Resolution on Gender Equality Fails After Major Countries Abstain

NEW YORK — A United Nations Security Council resolution on Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) failed to pass today after 10 countries abstained from the vote because the resolution failed to advance the agenda. The resolution effort was led by Russia, the Security Council president during the month of October.

The countries abstained after the resolution fell below agreed language on human rights, the role of civil society, and women’s participation in peace processes.

Adopted 20 years ago with Resolution 1325, WPS is an agenda that addresses the unique and disproportionate impact of conflict on women and girls.

Grant Shubin, legal director of the Global Justice Center, issued the following statement:

“Every country who withheld its vote for this unnecessary and dangerous resolution should be applauded. The Women, Peace and Security agenda is anchored in human rights and this resolution could have turned back the clock on 20 years of progress.

“Women in conflict-affected countries are suffering catastrophic impacts due to COVID-19. Any attack on this critical tool for advancing women’s health and rights is dangerous and we’re glad to see a diverse group of nations stand up for the agenda and its bold commitments to gender equality.”

Trump Administration Launches Declaration Attacking Human Right to Abortion Access

NEW YORK — US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo today signed a declaration opposing the human right to abortion access and elevating notions of the traditional family and motherhood. The “Geneva Consensus Declaration” was initiated by the US and was co-sponsored by Brazil, Egypt, Hungary, Indonesia, Uganda, and signed by 32 countries.

Akila Radhakrishnan, President of the Global Justice Center, issued the following statement:

“This declaration is nothing less than an assault on decades of progress for the health and rights of women around the world. Let's be clear: abortion is healthcare and a human right — no matter what the US or any of the other countries who signed this statement say.

“Despite what Secretaries Azar and Pompeo said, this administration has never ‘put women's health first.’ Rather, this administration has consistently both women's bodies, here at home and abroad, last. For evidence, look no further than its expanded ‘Global Gag Rule,’ which has devastated critical healthcare for women around the world

“Just because these regressive governments keep asserting that abortion is not a human right, doesn't make it true; the international human rights framework is clear on this issue. There is a reason why none of the US’ traditional allies, nor countries with strong records on human rights, joined this declaration — it flies in the face of decades of hard-fought victories for the rights of women.”