U.S. Senate is debating ratification of a U.N. treaty
that has been pending for over two decades.
stubborn cloud hangs over the treaty, the
Convention on the Elimination of
All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
Of the many
reasons to oppose CEDAW, one of them is the U.N.'s
probable complicity in China's one-child policy that
forces women to abort pregnancies if they already have a
child. It is a shadow that darkens all U.N. programs
regarding women and children.
Population Fund provides mega-financing to developing
nations, including China, to assist them in family
planning. Currently at issue is Congress' appropriation
of 34 million dollars for the UNFPA. Will American tax
dollars facilitate coerced abortions?
Dr. Nafis Sadik —
then executive director of the UNFPA — said that in the
"32 pilot counties [targeted by UNFPA], the Chinese have
agreed to a program that lifts all birth quotas and
targets including the one-child policy."
words, forced abortions would not happen where the UNPFA
had to see them.
In a few
months, however, China's unofficial one-child policy
will become nationwide law. Yet, a recent UNFPA
fact-finding "study tour" of China discovered no
evidence of coerced family planning.
first-hand horror stories
from Chinese women — the sort of evidence that the U.N.
finds compelling on virtually every other issue — is
critics of the UNFPA, the study-tour was able to reach
Chinese authorities only allowed UNFPA delegates to tour
a tiny area with controlled interviews.
the facts is essential, but an underlying assumption of
the discussion must also be addressed: Namely, that the
world is overpopulated and reproduction needs to be
Overpopulation is said to cause poverty, starvation,
disease, war, environmental disaster ... virtually all
evil is laid at the feet of parents who wish to have
The idea of
overpopulation is inextricably mixed with the UNFPA,
U.N. family planning and forced abortion. This makes it
intimately connected to CEDAW, which promotes
"reproductive rights." Or does CEDAW promote the right
not to have children rather than the right to
several grounds on which to challenge the overpopulation
The UNPFA offers math-enshrouded
charts and graphs based
on a soaring world population. But how do they really
know what the world population is?
example, is ravaged by war and disease; much of it is
inaccessible and without birth records. Statistician
Bjorn Lomborg disputes
U.N. data, stating: "The rate of increase has been
declining ever since [the early 1960s]. It is now 1.26
percent and is expected to fall to 0.46 percent in
disputes the alleged rise of poverty. "[T]he proportion
of people in developing countries who are starving has
dropped from 45 percent in 1949 to 18 percent today, and
is expected to decrease even further to 12 percent in
Politically: "Overpopulation causes poverty!" is the cry
of U.N. voices that wish to restrict reproduction.
governments must find that cry convenient: If the
Chinese starve, it is not because of disastrous
governmental policies. Instead, the "exonerated"
government can join the U.N. in pointing an accusing
finger at parents who selfishly desire families.
Shifting the blame disguises the fact that taxation,
monopoly privileges, government waste, and regulation
of the world, like Hong Kong and South Korea, prosper
when government gets out of the way.
Economically: Even if UNPFA estimates of population are
correct, why is that frightening? One answer usually
comes back with predictability: because the world's
natural resources are being depleted.
Population Problem That Isn't,"
political commentator Sheldon Richman rebuts that point.
Richman argues: "[I]n practical terms, the supply of a
resource is not finite. It is integrally dependent on
human ingenuity. If we were to think of ways to double
the efficiency with which we use oil, it would be
equivalent to doubling the supply of oil."
ingenuity, not government, solves the problem of
scarcity. The nations in which poverty is greatest are
those that restrain human ingenuity — that is, freedom —
and punish initiative.
voices are demanding that the U.S. ratify CEDAW. In an
article in the San Francisco Chronicle entitled "Senate
Needs to Ratify the Treaty for the Rights of Women,"
Sens. Joseph R. Biden Jr., D-Del., and Barbara Boxer,
D-Calif., declare CEDAW to be "an international bill of
rights." They call the treaty "a tool that women around
the world can use in their struggle for basic human
UNPFA ceases to be a tool used by the Chinese
dictatorship to brutalize women, the words "basic human
rights" and "United Nations" should not be used in the
allegedly champions women's reproductive rights. The
treaty cannot be divorced from the U.N.'s general
policies of population control. The U.N.'s hypocrisy in
condemning some human rights atrocities while tacitly
supporting others taints CEDAW.
government is not the answer to poverty or human well
being. Individual freedom is.
McElroy is the editor of
She is the author and editor of many books and articles,
including the forthcoming anthology Liberty for Women:
Freedom and Feminism in the 21st Century (Ivan R.
Dee/Independent Institute, 2002). She lives with her
husband in Canada.