– Release date: 19 November 2002
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is the world's largest multi-lateral source of population assistance. Last year it provided support for family planning and reproductive health projects in 140 developing countries.
There is a sustained campaign by anti-family planning groups to associate UNFPA's activities in China with the one-child policy and coercive abortion.
In a correspondence from "Galway for Life" to all members of the Oireachtas (24th September 2002), these allegations are repeated and a call is made on the Irish Government to cease funding UNFPA.
This correspondence refers to a 'US Congressional Investigation' and is accompanied by extracts from the US Congressional Report. There was not in fact a 'Congressional Investigation'. Rather there was a Congressional Forum in October 2001, which was a plenary type-event taking testimonies and statements from a wide range of people and groups with different views (a US Independent Assessment Team was sent to China in May 2002 (see below)).
The views expressed in the documentation from the Congressional Forum which accompanies the "Galway for Life" correspondence are partial and include none of the testimonies and reports attesting the value of UNFPA's work.
In addition, the "Galway for Life" correspondence is accompanied by a Report from the Population Research Institute. This body has an anti-UNFPA and anti-family planning perspective, and it is therefore unsurprising that they make such allegations in their report.
UNFPA's programmes in China
The UNFPA is working in 32 countries in China to move their policies away from coercive towards voluntary family planning that respects human rights and dignity and that is in line with international agreements.
The following characterise the UNFPA's programmes in China:
As a pre-condition to accepting the UNFPA's programme, each of the 32 countries currently participating in the programme, were required to abolish birth quotas and family planning acceptor targets.
Participation in the UNFPA's programme is voluntary.
The UNFPA's reproductive health programme in China was approved by the 36-member-state Executive Board.
The programme complies with the 1994 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development.
The UNFPA does not support or promote abortion anywhere in the world. In all of the 32 states where UNFPA is operating its programme, abortion rates have decreased.
Evidence of non-coercion
In May 2002, the US Administration sent an Independent Assessment team to China to investigate claims that the United Nations Population Fund was involved in the one-child policy. The Assessment Team comprised three independent people, selected by the White House and mandated by the US State Department.
Following their investigation the team concluded: In sum, based on what we heard, saw and read, we find no evidence that the UNFPA has knowingly supported or participated in the management of a programme of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilisation in the PRC (People's Republic of China). Indeed, UNFPA has registered its strong opposition to such practices.
Based on its findings, the Independent Assessment team recommended that the US Administration release the $34 million appropriated by Congress for the UNFPA.
However, in spite of the conclusions of the investigation, the US President decided to withhold this money.