Prominent Medical Journal Slams UNICEF for Putting Children’s ‘Rights’ Over Saving Their Lives



LONDON, December 10, 2004 ( - Richard Horton, editor of the British medical journal, The Lancet, is critical of the United Nations agency for children, UNICEF, in comments published in the journal’s current issue. Horton charges the UN agency has given priority to so-called children’s rights, over its primary mandate - to save the lives of children through improved health initiatives.  Many say UNICEF director Carol Bellamy, whose final term concludes this spring, is to blame. “It is widely, if regrettably, accepted that UNICEF has lost its way during Carol Bellamy’s long term of office,” Lancet editor Horton said. “While Bellamy has focused on girl’s education, early childhood development, immunisation, HIV/AIDS, and protecting children from violence, abuse, exploitation, and discrimination, she has failed to address the essential health needs of children.”  Horton points to the failure of UNICEF in coming anywhere near to meeting its Millennium Development Goal to reduce the mortality rate in children under five by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015. Horton says that UNICEF had been making headway towards its MDG goal while under the direction of former director James Grant, but that the improvements in child mortality, while Bellamy has been the head, have slowed, and in some cases like sub-Saharan Africa, actually worsened.  U.S. Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) has said that Bellamy is so pro-abortion that, while a Senator in New York’s state senate, she voted against a bill would have required doctors to give children who survived botched abortions the same kind of care ordinarily given to other newborns. When Bellamy was appointed director of UNICEF in 1995, Smith commented: “Carol Bellamy is a highly inappropriate choice to run an agency that is supposed to promote the health and welfare of children throughout the world.”“We have been concerned that UNICEF is under pressure to change its mission focus and become an advocate for the population control agenda,” Smith said, noting that Bellamy’s pro-abortion record seems to affirm suspicions that under Bellamy the organization would devote more of its efforts to population control and abortion.  The Lancet’s Horton continued that, “Given this escalating evidence base for child health, but all on a paradoxical background of failure to meet the MDG on child survival, UNICEF clearly has a pivotal role to lead the world’s efforts to make children a global priority. Under Bellamy’s leadership, UNICEF is presently in a poor position to do so. Her distinctive focus has been to advocate for the rights of children. This rights-based approach to the future of children fits well with the zeitgeist of international development policy. But a preoccupation with rights ignores the fact that children will have no opportunity for development at all unless they survive. The language of rights means little to a child stillborn, an infant dying in pain from pneumonia, or a child desiccated by famine. The most fundamental right of all is the right to survive. Child survival must sit at the core of UNICEF’s advocacy and country work. Currently, and shamefully, it does not.”  Read the Lancet coverage: Read the UNICEF report:   See’s extensive section on UNICEF   Tv

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