Global Health Experts React to the State Department’s So-Called “Geneva Consensus”

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, October 22, 2020

CONTACT: Madison Donzis | [email protected] 

Global Health Experts React to the State Department’s So-Called “Geneva Consensus”

WASHINGTON, DC -- Earlier today, the United States signed a non-negotiated anti-abortion declaration with a group of about 30 largely illiberal or authoritarian governments, after the failure of an effort to expand the conservative coalition. 

According to The Guardian, the so-called, “‘Geneva Consensus Declaration” calls on states to promote women’s rights and health – but without access to abortion – and is part of a campaign by the Trump administration, led by secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, to reorient US foreign policy in a more socially conservative direction, even at the expense of alienating traditional western allies.”

In reaction to the announcement, Serra Sippel, President of CHANGE (the Center for Health and Gender Equity) issued the following statement:

“The so-called 'Geneva Consensus’ is little more than a smoke screen for the United States to undermine the real global consensus that cares for and protects the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of all people. That the U.S. could only muster 30 signatories from the 193-Member States of the UN shows how out of step they are with the rest of the world. 

“Let’s be clear- denying the right to an abortion does not reflect any global consensus. 

“We know that the vast majority of people around the world and in the United States oppose the Trump administration’s cruel and callous approach to human rights and SRHR through policies like the Global Gag Rule. 

“The so-called Geneva Consensus is merely a vehicle for the United States to undermine national sovereignty and bully other nations into following its anti-choice, anti-human rights and anti-evidence agenda. 

“We strongly condemn this document and urge the Department of State and Department of Health and Human Services to reflect the ideals of the American people- not the fringe, conservative, Christian ideologies in power.”

Earlier this month, CHANGE released its annual report grading U.S. government agencies (The White House, Congress, USAID, State Department, HHS and DoD) on how their global health policies, investments, and programs have impacted three domains across SRHR: family planning, maternal and child health, and HIV and AIDS treatment, prevention, and care. 

The SRHR Index evaluates each actor’s 2019 performance on gender-responsiveness, responsiveness to need, basis in evidence, and consistency with internationally recognized human rights principles. 


This year, the U.S. government’s overall SRHR grade fell from a C in 2018 to a C- in 2019, with the White House falling to a D, and HHS falling to D-. Since CHANGE began releasing annual grades starting with 2016, the U.S. government’s overall SRHR was at its highest in 2016 (B), and has decreased consistently since Trump took office thus far (2017-2019) with its lowest grade of a C- in 2019. The White House’s grades dropped further in 2019 because of the Trump administration’s refusal to include health and, specifically, sexual and reproductive health, in the policies it issued in 2019 that were women-focused, including the U.S. Global Health Security Strategy and the U.S. Strategy on Women, Peace, and Security. The White House’s grade also dramatically fell due to the administration’s disregard for and defunding of key multilateral institutions like UNICEF, UNIFEM and UNFPA. 

The 2019 Index grades also evaluated a number of statements made by Secretary of HHS, Alex Azar, that, similar to the Geneva Consensus document, vehemently opposed human rights-based terms such as “sexual and reproductive health and rights” or “sexual rights” and rejected the international human right to abortion. 

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