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The Truth About UNICEF

UNICEF is, undoubtedly, the most well known and, probably, the most popular UN agency among Americans. The organization received $282 million from the United States alone in 2002. What is not well known, however, is UNICEF’s evolution from a life affirming, child saving and Nobel peace prize-winning foundation to a contraceptive-distributing, abortion-performing and sterilization-providing partner of some of the world’s most notorious “family planning” organizations.

UNICEF, which originally stood for United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, was established by the United Nations in 1947 during the aftermath of World War II. Funded by voluntary contributions from governments and the public, its original purpose was to provide emergency food, water, shelter and medical care to children throughout the world. This task they accomplished well, receiving international acclaim and respect. In 1950, the UN asked UNICEF to extend its work beyond emergency relief and to focus on the long-range needs of children. In 1953 the organization’s name was changed to the United Nations Children’s Fund while the original acronym remained.

Until the mid 1960’s UNICEF fulfilled its mission and performed a great service to many of the neediest children in the world.  However, as the world and the UN began to change, more unscrupulous programs replaced these worthy works and the original mission was lost to population control euphemisms and “reproductive health issues”. A recent series of articles in the British medical journal, The Lancet, on the growing number of preventable childhood deaths worldwide provide a clear indication that UNICEF needs to redirect its “emphasis [on] its traditional mission of child survival”. (1)

The 1960’s brought an increased life expectancy to inhabitants of third world countries. Improved medical technologies and the development of vaccines either eliminated, cured or controlled a number of diseases. Improved methods of communications and means of more rapid transportation lowered death tolls in areas struck by natural disaster. At the same time, there was a resurgence of the Malthusian theory that the world was suffering from overpopulation and was headed for doom – there was not enough food to go around. This same decade entertained the development of new methods of fertility control – the “birth control pill”, the IUD and sterilization. Theories of overpopulation and the development of birth control methods combined to fuel debate on population control. Population growth was being viewed as one reason why poor people stayed poor and deprived children remained deprived. Measures for preventing or interrupting pregnancy were seen as part of “maternal and child health services”. (2)

There was major controversy in the UN – so much so that the organization’s structure was threatened. The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF were reluctant to join in the debate. WHO was unsure about the health effects of the pill and UNICEF did not want to act before WHO. Controversy within UNICEF itself threatened to split the Executive Board in the spring of 1966. It was proposed that UNICEF funds would be spent on providing women with access to family planning in those countries where the government requested it but that UNICEF would not offer any advice nor provide supplies or equipment to make them. Opponents argued “it would be wrong for UNICEF to depart from its original mandate of saving children in order to engage in activities to prevent them from being born”. (3) The proposal was withdrawn and the issue tabled for a year.

In June of 1967, the UNICEF-WHO Joint Committee on Health Policy revived the debate using a revised argument. The committee submitted a report to the board suggesting that family planning programs supported by UNICEF should be part of a wide range of health services for both mothers and their children. After all, they reasoned, birth spacing was a health service that would benefit both mother and child. The report was accepted. Despite the fact that the terms used were understood to specifically exclude contraceptives, the phrases “family planning” and UNICEF were permanently joined.

Also in 1967, UN Secretary General U Thant announced the creation of a new UN fund – the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), which would specifically underwrite population-control activities. The UNFPA received contributions from those nations that opted to do so. By 1970, UNICEF was receiving large grants from UNFPA and had an expanded policy in place to supply contraceptives. The cooperation between UNICEF and UNFPA grew and soon thereafter, was extended to other organizations including International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF).

A good deal of the controversy surrounding UNICEF comes primarily and directly from this policy of supplying and distributing contraceptives. Many contraceptives are, in reality, abortifacients. One of the effects of these contraceptives is to prevent the newly fertilized ovum, a new human life, from implanting in the mother’s womb, thus destroying it. The so-called “contraceptives” that UNICEF provided were actually causing early abortions.

Despite their arguments during the World Population Conference in Bucharest in 1974 that UNICEF’s interests and activities in promoting birth control were to benefit maternal and child health, the “family planning” program in Pakistan is just one example that revealed a quite different story:

Pakistan had initiated an “all-out national family planning program” in 1965. With the assistance of UNICEF, the plan aimed to provide each and every fertile couple in the country (approximately 20 million) with contraception, preferably an IUD. Doctors, health inspectors and midwives were trained to insert the device and anyone who participated received financial rewards. However, when the campaign was extended to more rural parts of the country, where no health centers (and, thus, no medical backup) was available, problems arose. Women, completely unaware of the potential dangers (acute pain, bleeding, infection), suffered serious injuries; many were rendered sterile. By 1974, when the health problems caused by IUD’s became more widely known, the program ran into increasing resistance. “So much for family planning using IUD’s as a benefit to women’s health”. (4)

The public record proves much to those willing to look and learn. The proceedings and finances of UNICEF, other UN organizations and pro-abortion groups such as IPPF are a matter of public record. Throughout the 1970’s the Population Information Program published The Population Reports. These reports were in-depth scientific studies on the latest methods of fertility control and guides to governments seeking information for population programs. The Population Information Program was the responsibility of George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, D.C. until July 1, 1978 and then that of John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. These Reports clearly outline UNICEF’s involvement with population control throughout that time frame. UNICEF was named as an organization assisting in the following:

April 1974 “On Oral Contraceptives” – UNICEF supplied tables and raw materials equivalent to more than five million cycles.

March 1977 “Guide to Sources of Family Planning Program Assistance” – UNICEF is listed as a source of assistance for oral contraceptives, IUD’s, condoms, diaphragms, injectibles and spermicides.

September 1977 “Guide to equipment selection for sterilization procedures” – UNICEF is listed as a source of equipment assistance and instrument kits for sterilization by mini-laparotomy and by colpotomy. “Sterilization equipment may be obtained through a variety of national and international donor agencies … United Nations (UN) agencies – the United Nation’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF)… Of the five kits shown, two were developed by UNICEF.” (5)

January 1979 “Within the U.N. System, about 80 percent of contraceptives (oral) funded by the UNFPA are purchased by UNICEF and twenty percent by WHO.” (6)

May 1979 “The UNFPA is also funding the purchase of an increasing number of IUD’s for developing country programs, with the actual procurement undertaken by UNICEF (about 97 percent) and WHO (about three percent).” (7)

1985: UNICEF received $700,000 from the World Bank for a population project in Kenya that included sterilization facilities in district hospitals and family planning clinics.

1987 – 1988: UNICEF cooperated in a project to organize, expand and improve the quality of sterilization in mobile units countrywide. Additionally, UNICEF budgeted almost $800,000 for the purchase of contraceptives and national child-spacing programs in Jamaica and Tanzania. (8)

In 1987 an International Conference on Better Health for Women and Children through Family Planning was held in Nairobi, Kenya under the sponsorship of UNICEF and six other organizations – UNFPA, World Bank, WHO, IPPF, the UN Development Program and The Population Council. This conference was significant for two reasons: it made clear that the UNICEF of 1987 was vastly different from the UNICEF of 1967 and, in aligning with the world’s leading pro-abortion organizations, UNICEF went on record officially endorsing abortion.

In 1967 UNICEF categorically rejected any connection with contraceptives. In 1987, it joined its collaborators in endorsing a Resolution for Action that included not only contraceptive research, development, distribution and practice, but pressed for abortion – regardless of the legal status – as well as increased collaboration with agencies whose agendas included contraceptives, sterilizations and abortion – often under political coercion. One of the conference Recommendations for Action read ” … legal, good quality abortion services should be made easily accessible to all women.” (9)

In 1988 UNICEF published Facts of Life, a booklet promoting birth control and the use of various contraceptives. The booklet contained no mention of abstinence or natural family planning and failed to mention the abortifacient nature of contraception.

1988 – 1989: UNICEF received $5.4 million for family planning services and population control programs. UNICEF was also named as the agency to provide contraceptive supplies in Cape Verde Sweden.

1990: UNICEF contributed $1.3 million to aid in surgical contraceptive services in Malawi and $1.8 million for family planning projects in Burundi. (10)

At the opening of UNICEF’s Executive Board meeting in New York on April 16, 1990, a number of member states proposed a more active campaign to support abortion. Some European countries were even proposing that UNICEF become an advocate for abortion in countries where it was illegal. Archbishop Renato Martin, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, and his staff reacted quickly drafting a letter to the Vatican that evening. The next day, Martino addressed the Board: “the Holy See views with great alarm some repeated proposals that this UN agency, established for the well being of children, become involved in the destruction of existing human life, even to the point of suggesting that UNICEF become an advocate for abortion in countries whose sovereign legislation does not allow it. The Holy See firmly opposes such proposals not only on moral grounds, but also because they would bring a totally unacceptable deviation from the stated purpose of UNICEF in favour of children”. (11) The Vatican ended up withdrawing its annual contribution to UNICEF in 1996.

At its inception, the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child stated, in part: “Whereas the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including legal protection, before as well as after birth …” In 1991, the Declaration was revised to offer state protection of a child only after birth. It remains that way today. (12)

In 1995, UNICEF came under the leadership of a new director – Carol Bellamy. Bellamy had served as a state senator in New York during the mid-1970’s. She twice voted against the Aid to Live Aborted Child Act (a law which required professional medical personnel to provide the same care to infants surviving an abortion and born alive as any other premature baby) and supported other pro-abortion bills. Canada’s Stephen Lewis, another pro-abortion advocate and former NDP Ontario leader, was appointed Bellamy’s deputy executive director.

Throughout her tenure as director of UNICEF, a period strife with conflict in many areas of the world, Bellamy has staunchly advocated more help for refugee women who are sexually assaulted. While this may appear noble on the part of UNICEF at the surface, the advocated “help” includes provision of “morning after” pills, “reproductive health kits” bumping desperately needed medical supplies and even food from supply convoys, warehouses full of condoms but no penicillin and abortion services for children as young as ten years old. During the Balkan conflict, Albanian refugee camps received enough reproductive health kits to supply 350,000 people for six months – they were terribly short on antibiotics, but the shipment of birth control arrived! Not long after her appointment, UNICEF issued a press release announcing it would be distributing “contraceptives and drugs to terminate pregnancies” to “a million starving refugees in flight along the border between Rwanda and Zaire.” (13) Bellamy was re-appointed for another five-year term in 2000.

1995: The Catholic Women’s League of the Philippines won a restraining order against a two-year-old WHO and UNICEF anti-tetanus program. Two labs had found “B-hCG” sterilizing agent in the vaccine. The Filipino program had already “vaccinated” 3.4 million people – all women, mainly between the ages of twelve and 45. The hormone-laced vaccine was also discovered in Mexico, Nicaragua, Tanzania, India and Nigeria. The anti-hCG hormone cause not only sterilizations but also incurable autoimmune disorders, miscarriages and birth defects. (14)

1997: UNICEF issued its 107-page The State of the World’s Children that praised China for passing legislation on child rights. These “rights” supposedly guarantee Chinese citizens the “right and obligation to receive education”. No where did UNICEF’s report mention, however, the considerable international attention that the unconscionable human rights abuses received just the year before: forced child labor, Chinese sweatshops (where children worked for less than one dollar per month), forced abortions and “dying rooms” in Chinese Government orphanages. (15)

In July of 1998, the United Nations officially established a new alliance of three UN social agencies – UNICEF, WHO and UNFPA – to be known as the Coordinating Committee on Health (CCH). The component agencies of the CCH were to become “full partners together”, yet their alliance had little to do with health. Since the members of the CCH were full partners, each could use the other’s funding with impunity. The agenda included easy access to various contraceptive pills and devices, abortion and sterilization equipment.

October 2000: UNICEF designed and assisted El Salvador’s Ministries of Health and Education in distributing a 170-page sex education book to be used for training adolescents on sexuality issues including contraception, homosexuality, bisexuality, masturbation and abortion. (16)

December 2000: The Wall Street Journal revealed UNICEF’s mission to discourage AIDS positive mothers from switching to infant formula. By the UN’s own statistics, an estimated 3.4 million children had contracted AIDS from their mothers and died. Between 1.1 and 1.7 million of those children, mostly in Africa, were believed to have been infected with HIV through breast-feeding. Yet, while Nestle and Wyeth, the leading manufacturers of infant formula in the United States, were ready and willing to provide free formula, UNICEF adamantly refused to support their offers. (17)

July 2002: Another UNICEF-funded sex education book distributed to Latin American countries was circulated at the UN Child Summit in New York. The book encouraged children to engage in sexual activities with other minors, with homosexuals and with animals. The Spanish language book, entitled “Theoretic Elements for Working with Mothers and Pregnant Teens” included a workshop book, also produced by UNICEF, which suggested that lesbian sex was an acceptable alternative for girls. (18)

June 2003: A high-ranking official with UNICEF called for the legalization of prostitution and for UNICEF to make condoms available to “everybody, everywhere and at all times”. Urban Jonsson, UNICEF Eastern and Southern African Regional Director urged that UNICEF take actions to “de-criminalize sex-work and facilitate the organization of sex-workers [since] when sex-workers are organized, they are in a stronger position to negotiate safer sex with their clients.” Mr. Jonsson also stated “Abstinence is simply not a realistic option for most young people today.” (19)

March 2004: The UNICEF campaign to vaccinate Nigeria’s youth against polio was found to be a front for sterilizing the nation. Dr. Haruna Kaita, a pharmaceutical scientist and Dean of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences of Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, took samples of the vaccine to labs in India for analysis where evidence was found of serious contamination. The vaccines contained toxic substances that have direct effects on the human reproductive system. (20)

UNICEF promotes itself and raises funds at Halloween by having children carry its donation boxes door-to-door. It is also financed in large part by U.S. purchasers of UNICEF’s Christmas Cards. While contributions may help to provide food, clothing, medicine or the like, chances are they may also go toward various forms of birth control, abortion and sterilization.

Winifrede Prestwich, founding member of the Canadian political pro-life lobby Campaign for Life and author of “UNICEF: Guilty as Charged” sums it up best: “UNICEF is pro-abortion. They don’t want poor children coming into the world.”

UNICEF, as originally established, no longer exists. Indeed, UNICEF is no friend of children.

End notes

  1. [1]”Rightist Catholic Group Launches Attack on UNICEF”, Barbara Crossette, UN 9/5/03.

  2. UNICEF: guilty as charged, Winifride Prestwich, Life Ethics Information Centre, 53 Dundas St, East, Suite 308, Toronto, ON M5B 1C8, July 1993
  3. Ibid
  4. Ibid
  5. “UNICEF: Friend or Foe?”, Sass Seagal, October 25, 1999.
  6. Prestwich.
  7. Ibid
  8. Seagal
  9. Prestwich
  10. Ibid
  11. Ibid
  12. “UNICEF has Strayed from its Original Mandate”, Millie Walker Trainor, The Interim.
  13. “UNICEF Halloween Fund Backs Abortion”,, New York, October 22, 2000.
  14. Seagal.
  15. Ibid.
  17. “UNICEF Kills the Little Children …”, Michelle Malkin, December 8, 2000.
  18. “Child Sex Book Given Out at U.N.”, Canada Family Action Coalition, New York, July 10, 2002.
  19. “Top UNICEF Official Calls for Legalized and Unionized Prostitution”, C-Fam/, New York, June 5, 2003.
  20. “UNICEF Nigerian Polio Vaccine Contaminated with Sterilizing Agents Scientist Finds”,, Kaduna, Nigeria, March 11, 2004.