Why shouldn't the U.S. fund the population controllers at the United Nations, as Huffington Post columnist Cristina Page proposes? (See "The Pro-Lie Movement Targets Hillary," 2 December 2008). The short answer is that the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) is implicated in some of the most coercive anti-people campaigns in the world today.
Started in 1969 following a massive lobbying effort by billionaire John D. Rockefeller III, the UNFPA claims to work to "reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect." In fact, the UNFPA, like its founder, believes that the way to reduce poverty is to reduce the numbers of the poor through sterilization, contraception, and abortion campaigns.
We know. We have conducted repeated investigations of UNFPA operations around the world. We have found that, despite its soothing rhetoric about improving "reproductive health," and "safe motherhood" ― the UNFPA spends a huge chunk of its budget on soporific propaganda -- the agency continues to be fixated on the numbers. We have documented its involvement in coercive population control policies in countries like China, Vietnam, Peru, and North Korea, as well as in refugee camps around the world.
Its intimate connection to China's brutal one-child policy merits special attention. For three long decades, the Chinese government has aborted and sterilized millions of women each year. For three long decades, the UNFPA has provided financial aid, ideological encouragement, and international sanction to these abuses through its offices in Beijing and around the Chinese countryside. This shameless pattern of complicity in some of the worst human rights abuses on the planet is the chief reason why the Bush administration, for seven years running, has refused to fund the UN agency.
We at PRI have hard evidence on the UNFPA's involvement in coercion ― videotapes, cassette tapes, written and spoken testimony from dozens of witnesses. Our information was verified by the U.S. State Department, and is accessible on our web site, as well as in our new video series: Exposure: Investigative Realism from PRI. Even Secretary of State Colin Powell, who in the past has been friendly towards the UNFPA, declared the UNFPA ineligible for U.S. funding because of its complicity in forced abortion and forced sterilization.
Now, none of this matters to the radical base of the population control movement, which remains determined to shovel as many U.S. tax dollars into the UNFPA maw as possible. Cristina Page went so far as to call us lunatics for daring to challenge the UNFPA's programs:
Just when UNFPA was succeeding in proving to the Chinese the one-child policy was not only inhumane but also ineffective, PRI swooped in with its claims of complicity. Bush, eager to lock lips with his fanatical base, ignored the advice of his own state department, as well as many allied nations, and opted to go with the swirly eyed lunacy of the six staffers of PRI. At their request, Bush quickly froze all U.S. funds to UNFPA, which represented 12 percent of its budget.
Like other population control hardliners, Ms. Page does not attempt to refute our evidence. Instead, she mindlessly recites the UNFPA's party line. Does anyone really that the UNFPA is "succeeding"―after three long decades―in bringing an end to a policy that the Chinese government proudly proclaims will persist until 2050? Her claim that Bush ignored the advice of his state department is likewise a fantasy. What Colin Powell, Bush's first Secretary of State, actually said was: "Stop the Funding."
Ms. Page has no real arguments to make against us, which is probably why she resorts to sandlot slurs. But we stand by our research and our findings. And we remain firmly convinced that the UN Population Fund serves no useful purpose, and should be abolished.
The population control programs of the past half-century, born in the dark fear of "the unchecked growth in human numbers," have been a quiet but profound disaster for the poor and marginalized half of humanity. Hundreds of millions of poor women (and men) have had their fundamental rights--i.e., to control their own reproductive systems and to determine the number and spacing of their children--grossly violated. An even larger number have had their overall wellbeing compromised as resources have been drained away from primary health care programs, with some succumbing to HIV/AIDS and other epidemics. While the cost of such programs in terms of human lives and suffering has been all too real, the promised benefits have proven largely illusory. Is the U.S. more secure, the global environment better protected, and the world wealthier today because of population control programs? Are the poor better off? The evidence suggests not.
The idea of controlling human fertility "for the good of the state and its people," as Beijing is fond of saying, is a 20th century anachronism. It deserves to be as thoroughly discredited as Marxist-Leninism, and for the same reason: It is at heart a philosophy of state coercion. In its more extreme manifestations in China and elsewhere, it has given rise to terror campaigns. But even in its mildest guises, it encourages a technocratic paternalism that effectively subjugates individual and familial fertility desires to the wishes of the state.
The U.S. should not only continue to avoid funding the U.N. Population Fund, it should withdraw entirely from the organization. As far as the UNFPA itself, this creation of Rockefeller and his cronies should be shut down. Whatever legitimate health functions it performs can be transferred to the World Health Organization, UNICEF, or other international organizations. Some small programs, like that instituted to address the problem of obstetric fistula, may be worth saving. Others are Potemkin facades erected to con critics and deceive women.
We―and the women of China, Vietnam, North Korea, etc.―are not fooled.
Related: Cristina Page Responds
Steven W. Mosher is the President of the Population Research Institute, and the author of Population Control: Real Costs and Illusory Benefits (Transaction, 2008)