Louis Di Rocco

The Interim

“This is a conference about ideology.” That’s how a delegate summed up the Habitat II conference in Istanbul. As a transportation expert, he thought he would find practical help for improving conditions in his country. Instead he, and probably many others in the same situation, architects, urban planners, housing experts, etc., found their first UN conference bewildering.

They heard talk about sustainable development, reproductive and sexual health, various forms of the family, gender inequality, rules for NGO participation and many questions related more to politics than housing.

Conferences Linked

UN spokespersons from Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Secretary General of the United Nations, to Wally N’Dow Secretary General of the Habitat II Conference referred to the link between the Istanbul conference and previous mega conferences in Rio, Vienna, Cairo, Copenhagen and Beijing.

The Conference on Children’s Rights held in 1990 and the World Summit on Food, to be held in November 1996 in Rome, should also be included in this cycle.

“The inter-relationship between environment, resources and sustainable development was stressed not only by Rio and also by Cairo and Copenhagen. Women’s issues formed the common theme of both Cairo and Beijing” – Jyoti Shankar Singh, former Deputy Executive Director of the UN Population Fund, The Earth Times, June 4, 1996, page 6.

Population Stabilization

Many pro-lifers who have attended these conferences have concluded that one unifying principle is the goal of stabilizing the world’s population through sustainable development. It includes an anti-family, anti-life social agenda.

Reading between the lines of the Habitat Agenda and information published by the UN, one gets the impression that the world’s cities are in crisis because of exploding population, that the growth of cities is out of control.

Calling for stabilization of population growth and provision of reproductive health (code word for abortion) various UN spokespersons and publications revealed that population controllers are out of the closet.

In an article in the Earth Times, May 31, 1996, under the headline “Habitat and population are connected,” former Deputy Director of the UN Population Fund praises “the emergence at the national level of advocacy and pressure groups that seek to remodel national laws and practices along the lines of the international consensus achieved at these conferences.” He adds that “without the plans that emerged from the UN conferences these national groups would not have been able to move forward in a significant want.”

Nafis Sadik, the executive director of UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund), which funds many birth control programs all over the world, included the following in a statement prepared to coincide with the Habitat II Conference:

“Population issues and human settlement issues are closely interlinked.

Today’s developing countries will account for 93 per cent of the 2 billion increase in global urban population between now and 2020.

ICPD agreed on the need to stabilize world population in the shortest possible time.

I believe that it is of the first importance for this conference to incorporate these recommendations, especially those on reproductive rights, reproductive health and gender issues into your final consensus document.”

Of course there was no real consensus in either Cairo or Beijing. Dozens of delegations made reservations to oppose various paragraphs in the conferences’ final documents that promoted abortion and other objectionable social policies.

A background information sheet supplied to the press by the UN included the following statements:

Controlling the pressure on cities by stabilizing population growth will require progress toward the goals pledged in the Cairo Conference. At the core of the ICIPD goals is the empowerment of women through education and access to employment and health care.

Governments also agreed to achieve sustainable development by stabilizing world population through extending life expectancy reducing infant and maternal mortality, providing education for all, and extending reproductive health care to all by 2015.

In Nairobi, the United Nations and the Nairobi City Commission have addressed family planning and health issues through both clinics and community-based out-reach.

The project has trained hundreds of residents to distribute contraceptives and to educate communities on reproductive health, including family planning, pre-and postnatal care, nutrition, immunization, a clean environment and safe sex.

A Canadian reporter had a firsthand look at a pilot project for a community –outreach program when she went on a tour organized by Futures Group an affiliate of International Planned Parenthood. Their main aim is to influence Turkish Government on the issues of reproductive health, encourage Turkish women to use “non-traditional methods of family planning” such as tubal ligation, the pill, IUDs and abortion.

The project involved training Turkish women as leaders to go door to door in the community to talk to women encouraging them to use artificial contraception and abortion or to be sterilized. The leaders are paid a small stipend to make these calls which are made without a referral and uninvited. Every month 5-6 women from this project are sterilized. Most women are visited 3 to 4 times but some as many as 9 times.


At the beginning of the conference the term reproductive health was bracketed (that means no consensus yet) in two paragraphs, 87(a) and 96(d) (bis).

On the third day of the conference, Canada gave strong approval to a US proposal calling for “reproductive and sexual health care services” in paragraph 22 ter dealing with health and education. Canada also vigorously supported “reproductive and sexual health care and services.” In para. 87 (a) of the Habitat Agenda.

22 ter was introduced by the US on the last day of the New York Prep. Com in February and seemed innocuous, but in Istanbul the US moved to add “reproductive and sexual health services” No one is naïve enough to think this does not include contraceptive and abortion services.

In spite of the numerous references to reproductive health care in Cairo and Beijing, the countries favoring legalized abortion brought the same agenda to Habitat II which was supposed to be about providing adequate shelter for all.

Before the end of the conference there were five paragraphs including the words “reproductive health care” and one with “family planning.”

During the course of the conference, every time one of these paragraphs came up for debate, discussion was postponed. Finally, the U.S. suggested that they call be treated as a package and be sent to a small informal drafting group. That group in turn formed an even smaller committee consisting of the following countries: Canada, USA, European Union, Norway, Romania, Iran, Sudan, Holy See, Malta, and Argentina.

They came to a stalemate and finally, on what was supposed to be the last day of negotiations, Wednesday June 12, a compromise package was negotiated on paragraphs dealing with reproductive health, national sovereignty and cultural and spiritual values.

The Chairman said that this was a compromise package and that informal consultations could be held all day the next day until 2 p.m.

However, negotiations on the reproductive health references continued all day and night until 7 a.m. Friday morning.

The G77 was about to accept the inclusion of one reference to reproductive health in 96 (d bis) with a reference to paragraph para. 267 from the Beijing document. At the last minute pro-lifers pointed out that 267 of Beijing is terrible. The deal was cut off.

The final document contains only one reference to family planning and one to reproductive health in 96 (d bis) with the proviso that the programs be developed and implemented “consistent with the Report of the International Conference on Population and Development.”

While it may be an exaggeration to say that the final outcome on the question of reproductive health” is an outright victory for pro-life forces in Istanbul, it is indeed a victory because the developing countries stood up to the powerful coalition of the U.S., the European Union and Canada and were able to remove all references but one to reproductive health, as well as strengthen the language on parental rights and retain the principle of national sovereignty.

Parental Rights affirmed

Early in the conference Canada and the European Union tool the lead in opposing recognition of parental recognition of parental rights in the bracketed para. 9 ter, the only paragraph that even mentioned parents. It stated that the needs of children have to be taken fully into account “recognizing the rights, duties and responsibilities of parents and other persons legally responsible for children, consistent with the Convention on the Rights of the Child.”

Canada stated that it wanted the deletion of the reference to parental rights. A Canadian delegate told a NGO representative that Canada wanted to balance the rights of child and the rights of parents. After strenuous lobbying by pro-family NGOs, the following wording was secured:

The needs of children and youth, particularly with regard to their living environment, have to be taken fully into account.,, Parents and other persons legally responsible for children have responsibilities, right and duties, consistent with the Convention on the Rights of the Child to address these needs.

Another small victory came in final version of para 88 (d) where a reference to parents was added:

Encourage in cooperation with relevant interested parties, including parents with respect to their children’s education, the development of school curricula, education programs and community-based centers aimed at developing understanding and cooperation among members of diverse cultures.

“Various forms of the family”

Para 18 on the family included the sentence: “In different cultural, political and social systems, various forms of the family exist.”

In New York, Guatemala had bracketed “Various forms of the family” even though it was agreed language from three UN conferences, fearing that it could be interpreted to include homosexual and lesbian relationships.

Canada, the E.U., U.S. Australia and Japan wanted to unbracket and retain the language. Many other countries wanted to delete the whole sentence.

It was finally solved when it was pointed out that the quote from the Cairo document was incomplete. It did not include a key sentence referring to marriage. This sentence was added and final form of para. 18 reads as follows:

The family is the basic unit of society and as such should be strengthened. It is entitled to receive comprehensive protection and support. In different cultural, political and social systems, various forms of the family exist. Marriage must be entered into with the free consent of the intending spouses, and husband and wife should equal partners.

Sustainable development

The key concept to understanding the goals of UN conferences is sustainable development. The Earth Summit laid down certain principles to govern sustainable development in Agenda 21, the Program of Action from the Rio conference:

Principle 3

The right to development must be fulfilled so as to equitably meet developmental and environmental needs of present and future generations.

Principle 8

To achieve sustainable development and a higher quality of life for all people, States should reduce and eliminate unsustainable patterns of production and consumption and promote appropriate demographic policies.

The concept of sustainable development was defined in 1987 in the report of the UN Commission on Environment and Development chaired by Gro Harlem Brundtland, Prime Minister of Norway. Its definition says “. . . to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” They also added the following:

Sustainable development is the framework that integrates economic, environmental and social goals in discourse and policies that enhance the prospects of human aspiration.

Maurice Strong, a member of the Brundtland Commission, Secretary-General of Earth Summit I and II, former Director of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), and a member of the Commission on Global Governance, told the gathering at Earth Summit II in Rio de Janeiro: “It is clear that current lifestyles and consumption patterns of the affluent middle class – involving high meat intake, consumption of large amounts of frozen and convenience foods, use of fossil fuels, appliances, home and work-place air-conditioning, and suburban housing – are not sustainable.” (Emphasis added). ecologic March/April 1996

“Sustainable development” permeates Habitat II Agenda.

Paragraph 26 states:

We commit ourselves to the goal of sustainable human settlements in an urbanizing world by developing societies that will make efficient use of resources within the carrying capacity of ecosystems and take into account the precautionary principle approach,

Para 77 reads:

Demographic factors, combined with poverty and lack of access to resources and unsustainable patterns of production and consumption, can cause or exacerbate problems of environmental degradation and resource depletion and thus inhibit sustainable development. Therefore, a largely urbanized world implies that sustainable development will depend very largely on the capacity of urban and metropolitan areas to manage the production and consumption patterns and the transport and waste disposal systems needed to preserve the environment.

Even the program for NGO Forum “96 included the following statements:

The UNCED Conference sounded a severe warning: if no drastic action is taken to safeguard the world’s finite resources, as well as the generative capacity of air, land and sea, these will be exhausted before long. Careful management of our planet and an equitable use of its resources is therefore imperative.

Does the international community have to wait for a catastrophe to happen before it looks for a solution to the interrelated problems of poverty, environmental degradation, finite resources, unemployment and over consumption?

Some people suspect that what sustainable development really means is this: “There are limited resources and space. The world has too many people and if we don’t reduce the number of people there won’t be enough resources for future generations. There must be global monitoring and management of the planet’s resources.”

There seems to be a fear that if the developing countries were to consume resources at the same rate as developed countries that would be a problem; so, therefore, sustainable development is necessary.

Some go so far as to say that the world’s population must be drastically reduced by whatever means are necessary.

If this is the goal, then it becomes clear why contraception, sterilization and abortion under the code words “sexual and reproductive health care services’ are being promoted at UN Conferences.

In this scenario scare-mongering about global warming, ozone depletion, exploding urban population and resource depletion are merely smoke screens to convince people about the “need” for population control.

Food Summit

Technically, Habitat II is the last of the UN mega conferences but the Food and Agriculture Organization, a UN specialized agency, is planning a World Food Summit for Nov. 13-17 in Rome.

Jacques Diouf, Director General of the FAO speaking of the food situation in Africa states in The Earth Times, June 5, 1996:

“While Africa has increased its food production by about 60 per cent over the past 20 years, its population has grown nearly 80 per cent resulting in a per capita decline in food production. To improve the food situation, African countries will have to review the balance between their population growth, their technology and their natural resources.” (emphasis added)

Kay Killingsworth, Secretary General of the Food Summit said:

Thirty years from now, 3.6 billion more people will be walking this earth and we’re not sure we can feed them all without irreparable damage to our resource base.”

The Earth Times, June 14, 1996

With alarmist statements such as these linking food with population growth and resources, it appears that pro-lifers must once again be vigilant at yet another UN conference to prevent anti-population policies from being proposed and accepted.