Cutting Foreign Aid to Save Lives
Why more is not better when it comes to "development" aid

Steven Mosher
and by Maria José Campos
(c) 2013 Population Research Institute
Weekly Briefing
18 September 2013
Reproduced with Permission

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as UNICEF and CARE Australia are up in arms over the new Australian Prime Minister's plan to reduce foreign aid by $4.5 billion. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, they claim that such cuts will come at "expense of children's lives."1 Worse yet, they will compromise the commitments under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Now we're not really concerned about feeding the U.N. bureaucracy, so we'll leave that organization's vaguer MDG's - such things as the "reduction of global poverty" and achieving "social justice" - for another discussion. But can Tony Abbott, who by all accounts is a good family man, really be all that heartless? The concern of UNICEF and CARE Australia for children is touching until one realizes that (1) they feed at the foreign aid trough, and (2) one of their principal goals is to ensure that ever fewer children are born. We're talking here about population control.

The United Nations Children's Fund, known as UNICEF, is widely perceived as an agency dedicated to helping deprived and vulnerable children in developing countries. Yet, paradoxically, UNICEF also explicitly advocates the legalization of abortion and uses the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the MDG goals to promote it.

Carol Bellamy, the radical feminist who took over UNICEF in the nineties, skewed the organization's mission away from saving children's lives into the advocacy and practice of family planning. In The Progress of Nations (1995)2 UNICEF says that it is adopting "an integrated approach to family planning and population issues." In particular, UNICEF continues to advocate the well-informed timing and spacing of births, and to draw attention to the well-documented disadvantages for both mother and child of births that are `too close or too many' and to mothers who are 'too young or too old'.

Such activities led the Vatican, in 1997, to pull out of UNICEF. The Holy See specifically complained that UNICEF:

These problems have only gotten worse over the past decade and a half. UNICEF Australia now everywhere and always carries out what it calls "comprehensive integrated sexual and reproductive health education and services." It claims that this is necessary to reach MDG 4, which is the reduction by 2015 of under-5 mortality by two-thirds. But this otherwise laudable goal is being undercut by what is obviously a population control scheme.

Similarly, the 2013 UNICEF report Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed4 vows to work to prevent childhood illnesses like pneumonia, diarrhea and measles. So far, so good. But alarm bells should be sounding when these efforts are tied to "sustainable economic growth" and hysterical warnings that "increasingly desperate poverty have been allowed to set up the destructive synergisms of rapid population growth, increasing environmental pressures..."5

If anything, CARE Australia is even worse. It boasts that it has 50 years of experience working on sexual, reproductive and health issues. Moreover, it took the lead in calling upon the taxpayers of the world (including we Australians) to ante up even more money for population control at the July 2012 London Summit. We must do this, CARE says, because universal access to pills, IUDs and Depo-Provera is a "human right" and such drugs and devices "save women's lives." The reality is that women in the developing world die from the side effects of such powerful, steroid-based drugs every day. The way to reduce maternal mortality is to provide perinatal care, not to chemically or surgically sterilize as many women as possible, as CARE would have it.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI might have been speaking of CARE Australia when he wrote in his recent encyclical, Charity in Truth (Caritas in Veritate), that some "non-governmental organizations work actively to spread abortion, at times promoting the practice of sterilization in poor countries, in some cases not even informing the women concerned." (no. 28).

It is not just Catholics who find such programs objectionable. Many of the countries where UNICEF Australia and CARE are lobbying for the legalization of abortion, or promoting sterilization campaigns, are democracies, whose citizens have the right to make their own laws. They should be allowed to do so, without heavy-handed interference from Australian-funded groups.

CARE Australia can hardly deny that it is engaged in stealth population control. After all, it is the host Secretariat of the 'distinguished' Parliamentary Group on Population and Development. Its members see population control as a key means to eliminate poverty and achieve the end of economic development. "If only you would have fewer children," they arrogantly say to women in the developing world, "we will eliminate poverty."

Any economist will tell you, however, that you don't eliminate poverty by eliminating people. What the population controllers forget is that people are not just inert consumers, but ingenious problem-solvers and producers.

We hope that Abbott and the Coalition can see through the smokescreen of concern "for the children" and "concern for women" that UNICEF and CARE Australia are putting up. Because behind the smoke and mirrors is the reality that these "lords of poverty" live large in the countries they purport to help. They live in gated compounds, are waited on at table, and drive around in chauffeured vehicles. They are paid under generous government contracts that keep them well cushioned from the economic currents that are buffeting the rest of us around.

If taxpayer dollars are to be spent on foreign aid - and there will be plenty of money left in the coffers even after the Coalition cuts - it should be used to help people in poor countries become agents of their own development. It should be spent on primary health care services that treat malaria and diarrhea, and policies that encourage economic development and opportunities for women.

But there should be no money for NGOs like UNICEF and CARE Australia who see the poor as the enemy of the environment simply because they welcome children into the world.

*Maria José Campos is a Director of Family Life International (Australia).


1 Ireland, Judith, and Hall, Bianca. "Coalition Slashes Foreign Aid as Part of $9b Savings Measures." The Sydney Morning Herald. N.p., 5 Sept. 2013. Web. 18 Sept. 2013. [Back]

2 "UNICEF and Family Planning." The Progress of Nations. UNICEF, 1995. Web. 18 Sept. 2013.

Author's note: The Progress of Nations records the significant advances being made by many countries in health, nutrition, education, family planning, and progress for women. [Back]

3 Vatican City, Nov 4, 1996 (VIS) - part of complete text of a press release published by the Holy See Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations. [Back]

4 "UNICEF Australia Calls on New Government to Make Commitment on Child Mortality." UNICEF AU. Ed. Kate Moore. N.p., 13 Sept. 2013. Web. 18 Sept. 2013. [Back]

5 Ibid 2; Introduction: Social goals and Economic Reality. Statement by Richard Jolly, Deputy Executive Director, Programmes, UNICEF. [Back]