Will forgive Third World debts if ‘human rights’ are respected

On March 25, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien announced in Winnipeg that Canada is going to offer debt relief to Third World countries, but this relief will be tied to “human rights.” Canadian pro-life leaders warn that tying Third World debt relief to “human rights” could force abortion, contraception and sterilization on these countries. The provision of these “services” is considered by the Canadian liberal elite to be a matter of “basic human rights.”

The Canadian International Development Agency, which is the lead player in delivering Canada’s official developmental assistance, defines “human rights” as including access to abortion. In its literature, CIDA says that “Canadians affirm the highest attainable standard of physical, mental and reproductive health as a human right, an essential resource for everyday life and a crucial investment for global prosperity, security and equitable social development.” (“Reproductive health” is universally recognized as code language for abortion, especially as the term is used by the United Nations and other organizations supposedly concerned about international issues.)

Also, the government-funded National Action Committee on the Status of Women, the nation’s leading feminist group, is at the forefront of efforts at the international level to have abortion recognized as a “human right” around the world.

Such recognition is in fact the central goal of the international anti-life movement. Recent UN conferences have established that “women’s rights are human rights” and that women have the “right to reproductive health,” which includes abortion on demand. Mary Robinson, the UN’s new High Commissioner for Human Rights, said last November, “My responsibility as UN High Commissioner is … specifically to include women’s rights as human rights, as we were reminded by the Beijing conference.”

Canadian delegates to the UN conferences have been the leading advocates of this perversion of the term “human rights.”

Insisting that poor countries accept population-control measures to receive debt forgiveness, funding, or even food aid is nothing new. United States foreign policy regarding population control in the Third World (contained in the government document known as NSSM 200) states clearly that “allocation of (aid) should take account of what steps a country is taking in population control. However, it is important in style as well as substance to avoid the appearance of coercion.”

The World Bank has repeatedly engaged in this tactic of refusing aid unless the country in need of financial assistance adopts population-control measures, including abortion. A 1992 World Bank evaluation paper, discussing “Population and the World Bank” in Senegal, described a rural health project which focused on the provision of buildings and equipment for the expansion of basic health services. The study noted that the agreement to provide the buildings and equipment was contingent on the acceptance of “family planning.”

The study said that the “failure to implement this (family planning) element” resulted in a stagnation of the project. The report went on to say that in 1985-1986, the bank concentrated on helping the government develop a comprehensive population policy. As a direct result of the acceptance of the population policy (a “condition of release”) the bank released the money (called a structural-adjustment loan) needed to complete the project. “This recommendation was accepted and eventually implemented by making the development of such a policy statement a condition for release of the second tranche of the third structural-adjustment loan.”

Jim Hughes, national president of Campaign Life Coalition, said Canadian pro-life groups fear the government will insist on the provision of the “human right” of abortion in countries hoping to have their Canadian debts forgiven.

“When we first learned of the debt relief proposal, we were fearful that it may force Third World countries to mandate abortion, artificial contraception and sterilization,” said Hughes. Noting that government-appointed delegates to the UN have been pushing for recognition of abortion as a “human right,” Hughes argued that Chrétien’s proposal to make debt relief for Third World countries contingent on “human rights” could have ominous implications.