United Nations Population Fund

United Nations Population Fund
United Nations Population Fund
Abbreviation UNFPA
Formation 1969
Legal status Active
Headquarters New York City, United States
Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin
Website www.unfpa.org

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), formerly the United Nations Fund for Population Activities, is a UN organization. The UNFPA says it "is the lead UN agency for delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled." [1] Their work involves the improvement of reproductive health; including creation of national strategies and protocols, and providing supplies and services. The organization has recently been known for its worldwide campaign against obstetric fistula and female genital mutilation.

The UNFPA supports programs in more than 150 countries, territories and areas spread across four geographic regions: Arab States and Europe, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, and sub-Saharan Africa. Around three quarters of the staff work in the field. It is a member of the United Nations Development Fund and part of its Executive Committee.[2]


UNFPA began operations in 1969 as the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (the name was changed in 1987) under the administration of the United Nations Development Fund.[3] In 1971 it was placed under the authority of the United Nations General Assembly.[4][5][6]

UNFPA and the Sustainable Development Goals

In September 2015, the 193 member states of the United Nations unanimously adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, a set of 17 goals aiming to transform the world over the next 15 years. These goals are designed to eliminate poverty, discrimination, abuse and preventable deaths, address environmental destruction, and usher in an era of development for all people, everywhere.

The Sustainable Development Goals are ambitious, and they will require enormous efforts across countries, continents, industries and disciplines - but they are achievable. UNFPA is working with governments, partners and other UN agencies to directly tackle many of these goals - in particular Goal 3 on health, Goal 4 on education and Goal 5 on gender equality - and contributes in a variety of ways to achieving many of the rest. [7]


Executive Directors and Under-Secretaries General of the UN
2011–present Dr Babatunde Osotimehin (Nigeria)
2000–2010 Ms Thoraya Ahmed Obaid (Saudi Arabia)
1987–2000 Dr Nafis Sadik (Pakistan)
1969–87 Mr Rafael M. Salas (Philippines)

Goodwill ambassadors

The Fund's Patron is Crown Princess Mary of Denmark.

Its goodwill ambassadors are:

Areas of work

UNFPA is the world's largest multilateral source of funding for population and reproductive health programs. The Fund works with governments and non-governmental organizations in over 150 countries with the support of the international community, supporting programs that help women, men and young people:

According to UNFPA these elements promote the right of "reproductive health", that is physical, mental, and social health in matters related to reproduction and the reproductive system.

The Fund raises awareness of and supports efforts to meet these needs in developing countries, advocates close attention to population concerns, and helps developing nations formulate policies and strategies in support of sustainable development. Dr. Osotimehin assumed leadership in January 2011. The Fund is also represented by UNFPA Goodwill Ambassadors and a Patron.

How UNFPA Works

UNFPA works in partnership with governments, along with other United Nations agencies, communities, NGOs, foundations and the private sector, to raise awareness and mobilize the support and resources needed to achieve its mission to promote the rights and health of women and young people.

Contributions from governments and the private sector to UNFPA in 2014 exceeded $1 billion. The amount includes $477 million to the organization’s core resources and $529 million earmarked for specific programs and initiatives.

Campaign to end fistula

Ending female genital mutilation

Relations with the US government

UNFPA has been falsely[10] accused by groups opposed to abortion of providing support for government programs which have promoted forced-abortions and coercive sterilizations. Controversies regarding these claims have resulted in a sometimes shaky relationship between the organization and three presidential administrations, that of Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush, withholding funding from the UNFPA.[11][12]

UNFPA provided aid to Peru's reproductive health program in the mid-to-late '90s. When it was discovered a Peruvian program had been engaged in carrying out coercive sterilizations, UNFPA called for reforms and protocols to protect the rights of women seeking assistance. UNFPA was not involved in the scandal, but continued work with the country after the abuses had become public to help end the abuses and reform laws and practices. [13]

From 2002 through 2008, the Bush Administration denied funding to UNFPA that had already been allocated by the US Congress, partly on the refuted claims that the UNFPA supported Chinese government programs which include forced abortions and coercive sterilizations. In a letter from the Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns to Congress, the administration said it had determined that UNFPA’s support for China’s population program “facilitates (its) government’s coercive abortion program”, thus violating the Kemp-Kasten Amendment, which bans the use of United States aid to finance organizations that support or take part in managing a program of coercive abortion of sterilization.[14]

UNFPA says it "does not provide support for abortion services".[15] Its charter includes a strong statement condemning coercion.[16]

UNFPA's connection to China's administration of forced abortions was refuted by investigations carried out by various US, UK, and UN teams sent to examine UNFPA activities in China.[10] Specifically, a three-person U.S State Department fact-finding team was sent on a two-week tour throughout China. It wrote in a report to the State Department that it found "no evidence that UNFPA has supported or participated in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization in China," as has been charged by critics.[10]

However, according to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, the UNFPA contributed vehicles and computers to the Chinese to carry out their population planning policies. However, both the Washington Post and the Washington Times reported that Powell simply fell in line, signing a brief written by someone else. [17]

Colin Powell at the United Nations.

Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ), criticized the State Department investigation, saying the investigators were shown "Potemkin Villages" where residents had been intimidated into lying about the family-planning program. Dr. Nafis Sadik, former director of UNFPA said her agency had been pivotal in reversing China's coercive population planning methods, but a 2005 report by Amnesty International and a separate report by the United States State Department found that coercive techniques were still regularly employed by the Chinese, casting doubt upon Sadik's statements.[18]

But Amnesty International found no evidence that UNFPA had supported the coercion. A 2001 study conducted by the pro-life Population Research Institute (PRI) falsely claimed that the UNFPA shared an office with the Chinese family planning officials who were carrying out forced abortions.[19] "We located the family planning offices, and in that family planning office, we located the UNFPA office, and we confirmed from family planning officials there that there is no distinction between what the UNFPA does and what the Chinese Family Planning Office does," said Scott Weinberg, a spokesman for PRI.[20] However, United Nations Members disagreed and approved UNFPA’s new country program me in January 2006. The more than 130 members of the “Group of 77” developing countries in the United Nations expressed support for the UNFPA programmes. In addition, speaking for European democracies -- Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Switzerland and Germany -- the United Kingdom stated, ”UNFPA’s activities in China, as in the rest of the world, are in strict conformity with the unanimously adopted Programme of Action of the ICPD, and play a key role in supporting our common endeavor, the promotion and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.” [21]

President Bush denied funding to the UNFPA.[22] Over the course of the Bush Administration, a total of $244 million in Congressionally approved funding was blocked by the Executive Branch.

In response, the EU decided to fill the gap left behind by the US under the Sandbaek report. According to its Annual Report for 2008, the UNFPA received its funding mainly from European Governments: Of the total income of M845.3 M, $118 was donated by the Netherlands, $67 M by Sweden, $62 M by Norway, $54 M by Denmark, $53 M by the UK, $52 M by Spain, $19 M by Luxembourg. The European Commission donated further $36 M. The most important non-European donor State was Japan ($36 M). The number of donors exceeded 180 in one year.

In America, nonprofit organizations like Friends of UNFPA (formerly Americans for UNFPA) worked to compensate for the loss of United States federal funding by raising private donations.

In January 2009 President Barack Obama restored US funding to UNFPA, saying in a public statement that he would "look forward to working with Congress to restore US financial support for the UN Population Fund. By resuming funding to UNFPA, the US will be joining 180 other donor nations working collaboratively to reduce poverty, improve the health of women and children, prevent HIV/AIDS and provide family planning assistance to women in 154 countries." [23][24]

Other UN population agencies and entities

Entities with competencies about population in the United Nations:

See also


  1. http://www.unfpa.org/about-us
  2. UNFPA in the UN system. Retrieved 28 February 2013.
  3. "UNFPA in the United Nations System". United Nations Population Fund.
  4. United Nations General Assembly Session -1 Resolution 2815. United Nations Fund for Population Activities A/RES/2815(XXVI) 14 December 1971. Retrieved 11 July 2008.
  5. United Nations General Assembly Session -1 Resolution 3019. United Nations Fund for Population Activities A/RES/3019(XXVII) 18 December 1972. Retrieved 11 July 2008.
  6. United Nations General Assembly Session 34 Resolution 104. United Nations Fund for Population Activities A/RES/34/104 14 December 1979. Retrieved 11 July 2008.
  7. http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/
  8. "Technical Consultation on the Medicalization of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting". unfpa.org. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  9. "Gender-based violence - UNFPA - United Nations Population Fund". unfpa.org. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  10. 1 2 3 Cabatu, Elena; Bonk, Kathy (July 4, 2002). "Global Population Media Analysis: UNFPA". National Council for Science and the Environment. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007.
  11. Marquis, Christopher (17 July 2004). "U.S. Cuts Off Financing Of U.N. Unit For 3rd Year". The New York Times.
  12. "U.S. Funding for the United National Population Fund (UNFPA) Witheld for the Third Consecutive Year". SIECUS. July 2004.
  13. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 8 July 2009. Retrieved 4 September 2009.
  14. Background on withheld US funds Archived 11 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine., United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, 2007
  15. "About us". unfpa.org. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  16. "Maternal health - UNFPA - United Nations Population Fund". unfpa.org. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  17. http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2002-07-31/news/0207300388_1_unfpa-family-planning-china-s-population-policy
  18. "China's one-child controversy reignites - Washington Times". The Washingtion Times. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  19. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 December 2008. Retrieved 11 December 2008.
  20. "Congressional Hearing Shows UNFPA Involvement in Forced Abortions". tennesseerighttolife.org. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  21. http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=17337&Cr=unfpa&Cr1=china#.VsJXwulZ1D5
  22. U.S. Blocks Money for Family Clinics Promoted by the UN, NY Times, 23 July 2002
  23. "UNFPA Welcomes Restoration of U.S. Funding". unfpa.org. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  24. "Mexico City Policy - Voluntary Population Planning". The White House. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
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