NewsThu Sep 18, 2008 - 12:15 pm EST
Top UN Official Applauds Plummeting Births, Calls for Protection of Sodomy
By Susan Yoshihara, Ph.D.
NEW YORK, September 18, 2008 (C-FAM)- At United Nations headquarters last week, UN Population Fund (UNFPA) executive director Thoraya Obaid called for more funding for population programs, including reducing fertility, promoting “reproductive health services,” and “de-stigmatizing” sodomy.
Obaid began her remarks by commemorating the 40th anniversary of Paul Erlich’s book, The Population Bomb, which alarmed readers about the threat of “overpopulation” and justified the establishment of UNFPA. While she admitted the book’s prediction of “massive starvation on a large scale has not come to pass,” she nonetheless called for renewed commitment to boilerplate population control policies such as promoting smaller families, warning nations that world population had grown from 3.5 billion to 6.7 billion since 1968.
Obaid said there is a causal relationship between fertility decline and economic development, but this claim has been seriously challenged by the emerging evidence. A landmark study published earlier this year by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), for example, found that contrary to conventional wisdom, the “Asian Miracle,” in which economic development followed a drop in fertility, was the exception to the rule. It also showed why the world will become more violent and less secure in the next thirty years due in part to rapid changes in fertility rates.
The executive director called for more funding of “education and reproductive health” in line with UNFPA’s mandate from the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) outcome document “which,” Obaid told member states, “your governments have adopted.” Left unmentioned was the fact that ICPD explicitly safeguards each nation’s right to protect the unborn in their laws, and that it explicitly rules out abortion as a method of family planning.
The omission was especially notable since Obaid then said that “we need increased political will and teamwork to scale up quality reproductive health services,” a term interpreted by various UN agencies and human rights experts as including abortion. Specifically, she asserted that “we will not achieve MDG 5 [Millennium Development Goal for reducing maternal mortality] unless women have universal access to reproductive health.”
Nations have repeatedly rejected the inclusion of reproductive health in the MDGs, and Obaid notably dropped any reference to a new “target” for reproductive health, something that drew sharp rebukes from the US delegation in her last annual report.
Perhaps most controversial was Obaid’s claim, during her discussion of HIV prevention, that nations must “fight even harder against stigma and discrimination,” and included “men having sex with men," among marginalized groups needing special protection along with women and children. She then mentioned “forces that do not like our agenda,” claiming that “Threats are made against…UN family planning programs in particular.” She did not provide specifics, but said that “Our focus in 2008 has been to consolidate inter-faith networks for population and development,” and announced a UNFPA-sponsored Global Faith-Based Organization Forum in Istanbul next month to “enhance this strategic partnership.”
Obaid lauded the fact that UNFPA’s funding increased in 2008 by $50 million to a total of $470 million, and announced that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon decided to extend her term in office by an additional two years.