Population control activities of the UNFPA

This study is based on internal United Nations documents and audits, UNFPA publications, and the documents of UNFPA's donor nations and its partners among nongovernmental organizations, where available.
  • It corroborates charges that UNFPA has been complicit in coercive population control programs in the developing world
  • New information includes records of UNFPA financial mismanagement, as well as widespread UNFPA mismanagement of its programs in the field.
  • UNFPA has played a major role in designing some of the world's most coercive programs, as well as in teaching nations how to implement them.
  • According to UN audits, UNFPA could not account for 50% of the money it provided to nations and nongovernmental organizations during 1998-1999.
  • Audit reports uncover that 75 percent of the programs studied "failed to deliver all their planned outputs"
The following is an executive summary of an extensive White Paper focusing on the history and current activities of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the world's most important population-control agency. Many allegations have been leveled against this organization, allegations made by a number of donor nations and human rights groups. UNFPA has vigorously defended itself in the face of these charges.

This White Paper is an effort to weigh the credibility of the various allegations against UNFPA in the most thorough and fair-minded manor possible, to assess potential UNFPA culpability in the breaching of its own policies and regulations, as well as in potential human rights violations.

The study relies upon primary sources whenever they are available, including internal United Nations documents and audits, UNFPA publications, and the documents of UNFPA's donor nations and its partners among nongovernmental organizations.

The White Paper corroborates some of the most serious charges against UNFPA, including charges that UNFPA has been complicit in coercive population control programs in the developing world, and that UNFPA secretly supports and promotes abortion.

In the course of the investigation, other information has also been uncovered, information that may further undermine faith in this organization. This new information includes records of UNFPA financial mismanagement, as well as widespread UNFPA mismanagement of its programs in the field.

The report also uncovers new information regarding UNFPA's involvement in coercive population control programs. It has long been alleged that UNFPA funded coercive programs, and provided public support for such programs. But is now clear that UNFPA has been responsible for much more.

Through this investigation, we have learned that UNFPA has played a major role in designing some of the world's most coercive programs, as well as in teaching nations how to implement them.


Program Mismanagement.
In 1998-1999, UNFPA spent $91 million dollars, or 58% of its procurement
expenditures on the purchase of contraceptives.

In its own investigations, the UN Board of Auditors established two separate facts about this UNFPA procurement: first, UNFPA purchases these contraceptives even "where it is not always possible to find a sufficient number of suppliers who could deliver products in the quantity and quality required." And, second, the Board of Auditors found that UNFPA does not follow routine practices in order to ensure that these already-questionable products meet international standards.

The Auditors found that "UNFPA failed to: routinely monitor deliveries; follow up with suppliers who had not delivered; monitor the receipt of receipt and inspection reports. Furthermore, UNFPA did not systematically evaluate other aspects of the quality of service provided by suppliers, such as compliance with contract conditions, timeliness of delivery, accuracy and reliability of deliveries or number of complaints."

UNFPA recently shipped 10 million faulty condoms to Tanzania. This fact was only discovered after Tanzanian officials carried out their own tests on the condoms. It is impossible to know how many of the literally billions of condoms distributed by UNFPA over the years may also have been faulty. But it must be emphasized that such high levels of mismanagement, even irresponsibility, endanger the lives of people in the developing world.

Financial Mismanagement
According to UN audits, UNFPA could not account for 50% of the money it provided to nations and nongovernmental organizations during 1998-1999. An audit cites UNFPA's "weakness in project formulation" and concludes that "poor project design hampered the effective measurement of the impact of projects." Without such information, it is difficult for UNFPA to demonstrate the success of its projects or the added value which they have provided." And, where there is reliable information, it points to the failure of UNFPA programs, not their success.

Audit reports uncover that 75 percent of the programs studied "failed to deliver all their planned outputs," while 25 per cent, which accounts for $24.9 million, "fell significantly short." Audit reports also point to the frequent breaching of United Nations financial regulations, at both UNFPA headquarters and at numerous UNFPA country offices, and that this problem has grown worse over time. In 2000, less than half of the audited country offices were found to have satisfactory internal controls. Numerous cases of fraud were also reported.

There are a number of important conclusions to draw from this information. First, the UN, as a whole, is notorious for its financial mismanagement. If even UN auditors single out UNFPA for criticism, its financial problems must be dire, indeed. Second, all of these millions of dollars, dollars that cannot be accounted for, dollars invested in programs that cannot be evaluated, could be used for other, more effective development projects, like the provision of clean water, education, or immunizations. Third, UNFPA and its proponents often boast of the success of their programs, even citing figures such as the number of women saved by UNFPA projects. In light of UN audit documents, the accuracy of such pronouncement must be questioned.

UNFPA Involvement in China
It has long been alleged that UNFPA has provided funds for the coercive One-Child Policy in China, and that UNFPA has served as an informal public relations firm for the Chinese government. These charges are true, and have resulted in the US government withdrawing all financial support for UNFPA.

However, we have also learned that UNFPA's involvement in the One-Child Policy has been much more substantial than initially thought.

According to a report written by a research institute that collaborates with UNFPA, UNFPA provided China with an enormous grant - $50 million - when China was establishing the One-Child Policy in 1979. With the assistance of UNFPA, this grant was used by the Chinese State Family Planning Commission, the agency responsible for implementing the policy, in order to establish a demographic institute "with the main objective to collect data, conduct research and disseminate information on population and family planning."

In essence, UNFPA taught the Chinese government how to make the One-Child Policy work; with this demographic information, the State Family Planning Commission could tell where fertility needed to decline more quickly, what contraceptive and abortive quotas to set for different regions, and where women were regularly evading family planning regulations. With this data, the Chinese government was able to extend the implementation of the One-Child Policy across the vast expanse of China.

The report cited above, a report written by advocates of UNFPA, confirms this interpretation, stating that UNFPA's "very important role" in China "lies in pioneering, pilot and advocacy activities." What is more, in 1985, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) declared "the kind and quality of assistance provided by UNFPA contributed significantly to China's ability to manage and implement a population program in which coercion was pervasive."

UNFPA Involvement in Vietnam
As in China, Vietnam has established a coercive population program this time calling for forced abortions after women have had two children. Allegations of UNFPA financial support and public relations support for the Vietnamese program have been circulating for some time, and we have substantiated the accuracy of these charges. But we have also discovered that UNFPA involvement was much more instrumental than that.

In fact, it appears that UNFPA has provided the same sort of demographic expertise to Vietnam that it has provided to China. According to one U.N. document, "...Vietnam is undergoing the 'demographic transition' which is usually necessary for a sustainable reduction of poverty.

Although government policy bears the main responsibility for this achievement, UNFPA's assistance in preparing for and supporting the policy reform provided necessary capacity and support for implementing it." Perhaps this demographic and analytic support is the most valuable tool UNFPA can provide to nations seeking quick and substantial reductions in fertility, nations not hampered by a high regard for international human rights norms.

UNFPA Personnel
Through an extensive study of UNFPA personnel, we have learned that many of UNFPA's chief figures are ardent supporters of abortion as a fundamental human right. Former UNFPA Executive Director Nafis Sadik, perhaps the most important figure in UNFPA history, joined the board of directors of the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy (CRLP) shortly after retiring from UNFPA. CRLP advocates for the full legalization of abortion-on demand in every nation on earth

In 1999, the US Committee for UNFPA, a Washington-D.C. lobbying group, was formed, with the goal of protecting UNFPA from charges that it supported abortion and coercion in the developing world. However, the head of the US Committee was Robin Chandler Duke, the former president of the National Abortion Rights Action League, a group that successfully advocated for the legalization of abortion in the United States.

The current US Committee for UNFPA board of directors has twenty-four members, eleven of whom have been or continue to be associated with the worldwide abortion-provider International Planned Parenthood Federation. Ten of the board members have been or continue to be associated with other groups that advocate for abortion rights or directly perform abortions.

UNFPA and NGO Participation
The White Paper includes a thorough investigation of all of UNFPA's nongovernmental partners. We have found that many of UNFPA's NGO partners call for the reinterpretation of U.N. documents; many of its partners call for the circumvention, if not outright breaking, of national abortion laws; many of its partners advocate and perform an early abortion procedure called menstrual regulation, thereby breaking national abortion laws themselves; many of its partners operate abortion clinics, and perform abortions on a massive scale.

These are the groups that UNFPA funds, collaborates with, even celebrates. These are the groups upon which UNFPA bestows awards, the groups it calls its "major civil society partners." We have also learned that UNFPA places no public restrictions on how these groups spend UNFPA money; we must, therefore, conclude that UNFPA funds abortions.

Conclusions and Recommendations.
In light of this information, it is clear that a full governmental study of the activities of the United Nations Population Fund should be initiated. Donor countries should have the courage to withdraw their funding for UNFPA when they conclude that UNFPA supports coercion.

Donor nations should at least establish independent financial reviews of UNFPA operations, which seem to be in disarray. Donor countries should also consider establishing a new international medical agency to assist women, children and families as individual patients, rather than as demographic statistics, a medical agency not tainted by the philosophy of population control.

Finally, donor countries should consider transferring funds normally given to UNFPA to the United Nations Population Division, which provides accurate, non ideological statistical information on population.

UNFPA Continues Involvement in Peru Despite New Evidence of Coerced Sterilizations
January 8, 1999 Volume 2, Number 12
The Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defense of Women's Rights has substantiated allegations that the Peruvian government has engaged in a massive campaign of coercive sterilizations against Peruvian women. Last month, the Spanish newspaper El Pais obtained a draft of the committee's report, which quotes Peruvian officials confirming that medical personnel were pressured to meet sterilization quotas.

The women were reportedly coerced by a variety of threats and inducements, while others were not properly informed of the permanent nature of the sterilizations or of the possible complications. All such actions violate the Programme of Action of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), which prohibits quotas, coercion and programs conducted without participants' full and informed consent.

Peru's coercive sterilization campaign has allegedly been in effect since 1996, as part of a broader population-control program implemented in 1995. International agencies, including the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), have helped finance elements of that program.

Since evidence of coercive sterilizations began surfacing in 1996, Church authorities, opposition parliamentarians, human rights groups and even feminist NGOs have all condemned the Peruvian government's actions. Nevertheless, UNFPA support for Peruvian population control was reconfirmed in 1997 when the UN agency committed US$11 million to be spent in that country through the year 2001.

Peru's government has consistently refused to acknowledge the existence of the coercive sterilization program, but the women's rights committee report asserts that it remains in effect. The 1998 quota for sterilizations actually grew from 130,000 to 165,000 in 1997.

In early 1998, the Virginia-based Population Research Institute (PRI) presented documentation in Washington of permanent injuries and even deaths that had resulted from the coercive sterilizations.

David Morrison, director of communications for PRI, has said that international agencies share indirect responsibility for the abuses, even though there is no evidence that they have directly financed the sterilization campaign. "UNFPA and USAID have both been instrumental in building the infrastructure that allowed this to take place," Morrison commented. "If the UNFPA had any intention of honoring the provisions of the ICPD against coercion, they would pull out of Peru."

While the UNFPA has so far rebuffed requests that it withdraw from Peru, UN insiders note that other opportunities exist to protest against the coercive sterilization campaign. Concerned NGOs can file "shadow reports" documenting the abuses with UN human-rights monitoring committees.

Pro-life representatives may also raise the issue at the annual meetings of the Commission on the Status of Women and the Commission on Population and Development, both of which meet in New York in March, and of the Commission on Human Rights, which meets in Geneva from March 27 to April 30.

The Full report can be read here.
White Paper Series, Number Two
Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute
The International Organizations Research Group
By Douglas A. Sylva, Ph.D.
Copyright - Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute.
Permission granted for unlimited use. Credit requested.