Article 1. As a matter of scientific fact a new human life begins at conception.

Article 2. Each human life is a continuum that begins at conception and advances in stages until death. Science gives different names to these stages, including zygote, blastocyst, embryo, fetus, infant, child, adolescent and adult. This does not change the scientific consensus that at all points of development each individual is a living member of the human species.

Article 3. From conception each unborn child is by nature a human being.

Article 4. All human beings, as members of the human family, are entitled to recognition of their inherent dignity and to protection of their inalienable human rights. This is recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and other international instruments.

Article 5. There exists no right to abortion under international law, either by way of treaty obligation or under customary international law. No United Nations treaty can accurately be cited as establishing or recognizing a right to abortion.

Article 6. The Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW Committee) and other treaty monitoring bodies have directed governments to change their laws on abortion. These bodies have explicitly or implicitly interpreted the treaties to which they are subject as including a right to abortion.

Treaty monitoring bodies have no authority, either under the treaties that created them or under general international law, to interpret these treaties in ways that create new state obligations or that alter the substance of the treaties.

Accordingly, any such body that interprets a treaty to include a right to abortion acts beyond its authority and contrary to its mandate. Such ultra vires acts do not create any legal obligations for states parties to the treaty, nor should states accept them as contributing to the formation of new customary international law.

Article 7. Assertions by international agencies or non-governmental actors that abortion is a human right are false and should be rejected.

There is no international legal obligation to provide access to abortion based on any ground, including butnot limited to health, privacy or sexual autonomy, or non-discrimination.

Article 8. Under basic principles of treaty interpretation in international law, consistent with the obligations of good faith and pacta sunt servanda, and in the exercise of their responsibility to defend the lives of their people, states may and should invoke treaty provisions guaranteeing the right to life as encompassing a state responsibility to protect the unborn child from abortion.

Article 9. Governments and members of society should ensure that national laws and policies protect the human right to life from conception. They should also reject and condemn pressure to adopt laws that legalize or depenalize abortion.

Treaty monitoring bodies, United Nations agencies and officers, regional and national courts, and others should desist from implicit or explicit assertions of a right to abortion based upon international law.

When such false assertions are made, or pressures exerted, member states should demand accountability from the United Nations system.

Providers of development aid should not promote or fund abortions. They should not make aid conditional on a recipient’s acceptance of abortion.

International maternal and child health care funding and programs should ensure a healthy outcome of pregnancy for both mother and child and should help mothers welcome new life in all circumstances.

We — human rights lawyers and advocates, scholars, elected officials, diplomats, and medical and international policy experts — hereby affirm these Articles.

San Jose, Costa Rica
March 25, 2011

* Institutions named for identifications purposes only.


Lord David Alton, House of Lords, Great Britain
Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight, Knights of Columbus
Guiseppe Benagiano, Professor of Gynecology, Perinatology and Childcare – Università “la Sapienza”,
Rome, former Secretary General – International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO)
Hon. Javier Borrego, former Judge, European Court of Human Rights
Christine Boutin, former Cabinet Minister – Government of France, current president Christian Democratic Party
Benjamin Bull, Chief Counsel, Alliance Defense Fund
Hon. Martha De Casco, Member of Parliament, Honduras
Jakob Cornides, human rights lawyer
Professor John Finnis, Oxford University, University of Notre Dame
Professor Robert George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University, former member
of the President’s Council on Bioethics
Professor John Haldane, Professor of Philosophy, University of St. Andrews
Patrick Kelly, Vice President for Public Policy, Knights of Columbus
Professor Elard Koch, Faculty of Medicine, University of Chile
Professor Santiago Legarre, Professor of Law, Pontificia Universidad Catolica Argentina
Leonard Leo, Former Delegate to the UN Human Rights Commission
Yuri Mantilla, Director, International Government Affairs, Focus on the Family
Cristobal Orrego, Professor of Jurisprudence, University of the Andes (Chile)
Gregor Puppinck, Executive Director, European Center for Law and Justice
Ambassador Grover Joseph Rees, former US Ambassador to East Timor, Special US Representative to
the UN on social issues
Austin Ruse, President, C-FAM
William Saunders, Human Right Lawyer, Senior Vice President, Americans United for Life, former
delegate to the UN General Assembly
Alan Sears, President, CEO and General Counsel, Alliance Defense Fund
Marie Smith, President, Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues
Professor Carter Snead, Member, International Bioethics Committee, UNESCO and former U.S.
Permanent Observer to the Council of Europe’s Steering Committee on Bioethics, University of Notre
Dame School of Law
Douglas Sylva, Delegate to the UN General Assembly
Hon. Francisco Tatad, former Majority Leader, Philippine Senate
Hon. Luca Volonte, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, President of the European People’s Party (PACE)
Lord Nicholas Windsor, Member of the Royal Family of the United Kingdom
Susan Yoshihara, Director, International Organizations Research Group
Anna Zaborska, Member of the European Parliament, former Chair, Women’s Committee of the European Parliament