November 2, 2001
Volume 3/ Number 28
At a time when United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) funding from the U.S. and Great Britain is increasingly in doubt, chiefly because of its involvement in coercive abortion and coercive sterilization in China, the population control organization is attempting to change the subject. Instead of attempting to correct human rights abuses in its programs, the UNFPA is highlighting its environmental work—and once again targeting the poor.
Steven W. Mosher
UNFPA Hides Coercion Behind a Green Front
Moves are underway in both the U.S. Congress and the British Parliament to restrict, or eliminate entirely, the funding that these two countries provide to the U.N. Population Fund.(1) The impetus for these efforts comes from evidence gathered by PRI in China that the UNFPA participates in the support and management of a coercive family planning program in China that relies on non-voluntary abortion, sterilization, and IUD
This evidence was presented to members of the Committee on International Relations in the U.S. House of Representatives on October 17, 2001. To date, the UNFPA has given no response to the questions raised at that hearing. Instead, they are hiding their support of coercion behind a false front of environmentalism. On November 7, 2001, the UNFPA will launch a major public relations campaign to promote a new Malthusian tome called “Footprints and Milestones: State of the World’s Population 2001.”
The “footprints” referred to include every environmental scare story known to Homo Environmentalis. Carbon emissions, global warming, and resource depletion all have their tracks, we are told, but the biggest footprint (and the root cause of all the other footprints), is being left by “overpopulation,” especially “in poorer countries.”(3)
In order to deal with these multiple environmental crisis (all of which are in dispute, by the way), the UNFPA advocates reducing the number of babies born in poor countries. Or as the report delicately puts it, “Slower population growth in developing countries will contribute measurably towards relieving environmental stress.”(4)
Another troubling aspect of the report is its emphasis on “targets” for contraceptive use. Originally set at the UNFPA’s 1994 International Conference of Population and Development in Cairo, Egypt, to “help slow population growth and reduce the future size of world population
(ICPD),”(5) such targets constitute another reason why the organization should be denied U.S. funding. Under the Tiahrt Amendment, the pursuit of such targets in U.S.-funded family planning programs is illegal.
The report is an effort to massage the media into accepting expanded population control programs aimed at the world’s most vulnerable women, and to create a positive press at the next U.N. Conference on the Environment, Rio + 10, next year.
The report ducks the hard questions, questions like: Since the population of many developing nations is projected to decline in the years to come, why are aggressive population control programs still needed? Indeed, were they ever needed at all? We now know that many developing nations will become old before they become rich, if they ever become rich at all, thanks in part to the family planners at the UNFPA.
And what of the UNFPA’s decades-long love affair with China’s one-child policy? One “milestone” that passes without mention is how the new head of the UNFPA, Thoraya Obaid, abased herself during a recent visit to Beijing. Ms. Obaid reportedly told the People’s Daily that “China, having adopted practical measures in accordance with her current situation, has scored remarkable achievements in population control. This verbiage came straight from China’s State Family Planning Commission, which constantly exhorts its cadres to undertake “practical measures” (such as forced abortion and forced sterilization) to continue China’s “remarkable achievements” (forced reduction in the birth rate) in its effort to control China’s population.
Can we trust an organization that praises, in so many words, coercive population control programs and advocates numerical targets for contraception? More to the point, should we be funding it?
1. “Lord’s amendment to stop UK government funding for China’s coercive One-Child policy,” International Development Bill, UK House of Lords, October 25, 2001. 2. “Coercive Population Control in China: New Evidence of Forced Abortion and Sterilization,” Hearing of the Committee on International Relations, U.S. House of Representatives, October 17, 2001. 3. “Footprints and Milestones: The State of World Population 2001,” UNFPA, www.unfpa.org/swp/2001 , p. 2. 4. Ibid., 3.
5. Ibid., 3.