In 1966 the controversy concerning UNICEF’s collaboration in population control threa-tened to split apart not only that organization but the United Nations itself.  As a com-promise solution, the UN created a new fund especially for population-control activities, but one to which nations contributed only if they wished.  In 1967 General U Thant an-nounced the creation United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA).

By the early 1970s large grants from UNFPA were funding UNICEF’s “expanded man-date” [providing contraceptives].  Labouisse, at the World Population Conference,1974, stated:

“In 1966, UNICEF allocated approximately $700,000 to two countries for activities spe-cifically related to family planning.  In 1971, that figure rose to $2.4 million, and in 1973 it reached 4.2 million, covering assistance to almost 30 countries.  Much of that increase was made possible by grants from the UN Fund for Population Activities, and it is likely that co-operation between the two organizations will grow.”

Most members of the medical profession were appalled by the potential dangers in having semi-literate, semi-trained villagers handing out anti-biotics and oral contraceptives, or inserting IUDs (not to mention doing female sterilizations). The lack of a medical back-up made for even greater danger.

The co-operation did grow, and soon it was extended to other organizations including  International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF).

Meanwhile, in 1972, the WHO-UNICEF Joint Committee on Health Policy met in Geneva and discussed ways of accelerating the expansion of family-planning services to reach more people. WHO was asked to examine the alternative health systems which were developing, using local village women to deliver simple drugs, and contaceptives. In one such system, Dr. Zafrulla Chawdbury of Bangladesh had even trained ”semi-literate village girls to carry out female sterilization, apparently successfully!

Most members of the medical profession were appalled by the potential dangers in having semi-literate, semi-trained villagers handing out anti-biotics and oral contraceptives or inserting IUDs (not to mention doing female sterilizations). The lack of a medical back-up made for even greater danger.

Eventually, WHO recommended a modified type of alternative health system, using village workers but under some supervision.  In 1975 WHO’s  recommendations were adopted by the World Health Assembly and UNICEF’s Executive Board.

During the World Population Conference in Bucharest in 1974 both UNICEF and WHO stressed that their interest and activities in promoting birth control (along with contraceptives) were to  benefit maternal and child health. But by 1974, the Pakistan experience told a different story.

Pakistan: 1965-1974

Pakistan instituted a national family-planning (FP) programme in 1965, and, thus had a strong financial stake in pushing for UNICEF’s involvement in FP and providing contraceptives. In December 1966 the  Executive Director of UNICEF visited Pakistan where (according to Maggie Back) he was told by President Ayub Khan that population control was the nations’s  number one priority. The target was: “Everyone of the country’s twenty million fertile couples was to be reached,  preferably with an IUD.”

Women doctors, health inspectors and traditional midwives were taught to insert IUDs. All those who, in any way, participated received financial rewards. It was when the campaign was extended to the many parts of the country where there were no mother-child-health centres that the “family-planners” really ran off track. Maggie Black wrote that the campaign took on the atmosphere “of a traveling circus,” with “teams of family planners and tented camps,” and with all the media possible persuading women “to line up and get their IUD inserted immediately.”

Girls and women were completely unaware of any potential dangers, and when health problems arose-acute pain, bleeding, infection- there was no medical backup.Many women were rendered sterile, others suffered serious and dangerous internal injuries.

As time went on and the health problems caused by IUDs became more widely known, the government’s campaign ran into increasingly stiff resistance. By 1973/74 it was running out of steam, but by then the lives of thousands of girls and women were beyond repair.

And by 1992 some nations in UNICEF were pressing for abortion in countries where it is still illegal.

So much for family planning using IUDs as a benefit to women’s health.

Contraceptives and Sterilization, 1970-1980.

Evidence of UNICEF’s involvement with population control in the 1970s comes from the Population Information Program which was the responsibility of George Washington University Medical Centre until July 1, 1978, and later of Johns Hopkins University. The universities published The Population Reports  which are both in-depth scientific monographs on the latest methods of fertility control and guides to governments etc. seeking information concerning organizations which will provide funds, assistance and supplies for population programmes. UNICEF is mentioned in the following issues.

March 1977:

UNICEF is listed as a source of assistance for oral contraceptives, IUDs, condoms, diaphragms, injectibles and spermicides.

April 1974:

(quoting UNICEF as the source of its information) about oral contraceptives: “The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) also supplied tablets and raw materials equivalent to more than five million cycles.”

January 1979:

“Within the UN system, about 80 per cent of the contraceptives (oral) funded by the United Nations Fund for Population Activities, are purchased by the United Nations Children’s fund (UNICEF) and 20 per cent by the World Health Organization (WHO).”

May 1979:

(on Intrauterine Devices): “the United Nations Fund for Population Activities is also funding the purchase of an increasing number of IUDs for developing-country programmes, with the actual procurement undertaken by UNICEF (about 97 per cent) and WHO (about three per cent). Between 1974 and 1978 UNFPA has funded purchases (or shipments from the stockpile) of nearly five million UIDs for UNICEF and WHO of which 1.8 million were in 1978.”

September 1977 (Guide to Sterilization Equipment)

“Finally, United Nations (UN) agencies—the United Nations Children’s fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) can be a source of equipment assistance directly to governments or government-sponsored programmes.”

The September Report also gave the details of two sterilization kits which UNICEF had compiled in collaboration with UNFPA and WHO: a Mini-Laparotomy Kit and a Colpotomy Kit.

Contraceptives and Sterilization, 1980-1990s

All the information in this section comes from the UNFPA,  Inventory of Population Projects in Developing Countries around the World. The inventories are published annually and they list the countries receiving aid, the projects, sources of funding and the agencies involved. Examples quoted here are a minute fraction of the whole story, and are just a random sample of UNICEF’s activities.

Nepal: 1987-8

The Inventory reported that UNICEF, WHO and UNFPA were co-operating in a project “to organize expand and improve the quality of sterilization in mobile units country-wide and in regular health institutions in non-integrated districts.”

UNICEF’s budget for this project  in 1988 was $795,569.

Malawi: 1990 report

The World Bank, UNICEF, UNFPA and the Malawi Government’s objective was “to assist in the development of surgical contraception services.”

Total cost $22.9 million of which UNICEF’s share was $1.3 million.

Jamaica: 1987-88

“The purchase of contraceptives for the National Family Planning Programme.”



Burundi: 1990

Strengthening family planning  “to increase contraceptive prevalence up to 14 per cent by 1992.”

Total project $ 18.7 million. World Bank credit $14.4 million, UNICEF $1.8 million.

Kenya: 1987-88 report.

This was a World Bank project with UNICEF’s assistance of $0.7 million.

“In order to increase the project’s impact on fertility the project was amended in November 1985 to include the establishment of surgical contraceptive facilities in 13 district hospitals and five family planning clinics in urban areas.”

1989-90 report:


Projects include (i) outpatient minilaporotomy at three hospitals; (ii) vasectomy at numerous others.



Project: to improve MCH/FP units and increase coverage.

Budget: 1991

UNICEF         $2,098,500

WHO              $     56,000

Budget: 1992

UNICEF         $4,903,200

WHO              $     49,200

We reiterate that all the information in the 1980-90’s section comes from UNFPA’s official reports. We note, too, that these large sums of money (over seven million U.S. dollars to China in two years) are not spent on feeding hungry children.

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 agencies or organizations. The other six organizations, UNFPA, World Bank, WHO, UN Development Program, The  Population Council and the International Planned Parenthood Federation are all openly and strongly pro-abortion.

All seven organizations- including UNICEF – endorsed a number of Recommendations for Action. One of these reads:

“Where legal, good quality abortion  services should be made easily accessible to all women.”

And by 1992 some nations in UNICEF were pressing for abortion in countries where it is still illegal.