HLI Statement Influences Outcome of the OAS Pan-American Congress on Children’s Rights

For immediate release: November 18, 2019

Contact: Deborah M. Piroch

Email: dpiroch@hli.org

(Medellín, Colombia/Front Royal, VA)

HLI Pro-Life Coalition Influences Outcome of XXII Organization of American States’ Pan-American Congress on Children’s Rights 

From October 23 to November 1, 2019, Human Life International once again affirmed the dignity of the human person both before and during the Pan-American Congress on Children’s Rights. This began at side events prior to the official assembly, but continued with renewed success during the official assembly of Organization of American States (OAS) in Cartagena, Colombia. HLI’s side events were held prior to the official session, the latter having run October 31-November 1. Supervised by HLI OAS Coordinator and human rights attorney, Marlene Gillette, together with Luis Martínez, the OAS Auxiliary Coordinator and attorney, and under the direction of HLI Regional Latin American Director, Mario Rojas, the side events alone impacted nearly 1,000 attendees. This was largely due to eleven presentations given by Luis Martínez.

Key to HLI’s success is always coordination with the country affiliate, in this case the Human Life Culture Foundation in Colombia. It in turn involved its collaborator, the Colombian Ethics and Bioethics Foundation (FUCEB). HLI’s coordinated effort resulted in a pro-life, pro-family coalition comprised of 23 Civil Service Organizations (CSOs), prepared to participate actively in the Congress.

26 members of the HLI-OAS Colombia coalition were present, the goal being to ensure that present childhood ministers, as well as other civil society leaders, experts and OAS officials, had the opportunity to hear an interpretation of the convention topic in line with dignity of the human person. HLI’s perspective is vastly different from that of the OAS, which often holds opinions undermining the human dignity of children and their rights.

While HLI went into the individual discussions strategically, we were initially blocked by the Inter-American Children’s Institute, together with the host, the Colombian Family Welfare Institute, which broke up our members amongst different tables to pre-assigned moderators who controlled topics under discussion. That in turn meant HLI could not determine or win essentially pre-determined debates. However, HLI’s coalition respectfully but officially protested, arguing there was a need after many hours of negotiation to present a final document compromised from documents generated by writing teams from the various workshop groups. In this way, the final recommendations came to be dominated by HLI. Indeed, in the end the spokesman elected to read the final document before childhood ministers representing 35 countries was María Lucía Guevara, part of our network.

Summary – The Final Document

Though neutral in language, the final statement affirmed a child’s right to live in a family, the importance of the family unit, the undisputed role of parents’ in their child’s upbringing and respect for the life of the child throughout. The written statement was delivered as a consensus and accompanied by intense lobbying members of the HLI Network.

The event showed the power of the pro-life movement. Furthermore, HLI featured prominently in media coverage, from Cartagena, Colombia’s most important newspaper, El Universal, two interviews by Radio María Colombia, an interview by Nora Riani, Director of the Versailles Clinic, the main birth clinic in Colombia, and worldwide on EWTN Global Catholic Network’s weekly Spanish radio show, titled in Spanish to mean, “Defending Life” and hosted by HLI-Miami Director, Adolfo Castañeda.


See also HLI’s Statement for the 49th OAS Assembly (2019).

About Deborah M. Piroch

Deborah M. Piroch graduated from Mount Holyoke College, the nation’s oldest women’s college, with a double major in German and English Literature. She studied abroad and earned her M.A. in English Literature from Indiana University. Fluent in German, she began her career in international journalism working for Radio Deutsche Welle in Cologne, Germany. Returning to the States after a three-year contract, she worked as arts reporter and producer on prime time shows for WQED-FM in Pittsburgh, then a top 20 market. After another three years, she was hired by EWTN Global Catholic Network as news director, anchor and writer for “Catholic World Today,” but soon transitioned into television. Highlights of her 15 years at EWTN include co-anchoring the U.S. March for Life with Marcus Grodi on more than one occasion, live translating the election of Pope Benedict XVI into German, interviewing two former U.S. Presidential candidates and producing Father Benedict Groeschel’s prime time program from its inception for six years. Named the Network’s first International Production Coordinator, she also proposed, budgeted and executed TV shoots in Scotland, England, Norway, Sweden and Germany. Most recently she served as Director of PR for Human Life International.

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