PDF _ RL32703 - The U.N. Population Fund: Background and the U.S. Funding Debate
20-Sep-2007; Luisa Blanchfield ; 36 p.

Update: Previous releases:

Abstract: The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), established in 1969, is the world’s largest source of population and reproductive health programs and the principal unit within the United Nations for global population issues. In 2005, the organization provided services in some 126 developing and transition countries, with funds totaling $565 million, drawn exclusively from voluntary contributions made by 171 nations and some foundations.

The United States, with strong support from Congress, was an important actor in the launch of UNFPA in 1969. During the mid-to-late 1960s, Congress began to express heightened concern over the impact of rapid population growth on development prospects in poor countries. In 1967, Congress earmarked funds for population assistance programs, urging the United States to channel family planning resources through the United Nations and other international organizations.

In its first 25 years, UNFPA moved from an organization focused on statistical collection and analysis to an agency providing maternal and child health/family planning assistance. UNFPA played a large role in shaping the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), held in Cairo. The Cairo Conference marked a turning point in the international debate over the impact of population issues on global development, and established a policy framework called the Plan of Action that continues to guide current family planning and reproductive health policies, including the work of UNFPA. The Plan integrated population concerns into the broad context of development — concluding that education and health, including reproductive health, were prerequisites for sustainable development.

During the past two decades, there has been a continuing and contentious debate within the United States, and especially within Congress, as to whether the United States should financially support UNFPA. The issue has centered on the extent to which, if any, UNFPA aids China’s coercive family planning programs and policies. In 13 of the past 22 years the United States has not contributed to the organization as a result of executive branch determinations that UNFPA’s program in China was in violation of the Kemp-Kasten amendment banning U.S. aid to organizations involved in the management of coercive family planning programs. For the past five years, the Bush Administration has transferred UNFPA appropriations to other foreign aid activities.

While UNFPA receives voluntary contributions from many countries and some private foundations, most of its income comes from a handful of donors. The Netherlands and Japan recently have been the largest contributors. Throughout the last decade, when the United States has contributed to UNFPA programs, the U.S. contributions have represented about 8% of UNFPA’s regular budget.

This report, originally drafted by Larry Nowels, will be updated as policy changes or congressional actions warrant.

 [read report]

Topics: Population, International, Information

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