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Voices Online Edition
Lent-Easter 2002
Vol. XVII: No. 1

Sustainable Development 

by Mary Jo Anderson

A nineteen year old pregnant Chinese girl is forced to abort because she is "too young" to have a child. Iran, an Islamic nation, instructs religious leaders to promote contraception as a social duty. A Norwegian international banker worries about "migratory tensions" that would engulf his nation with waves of third world immigrants. A Los Angles Times article decries the lack of an official United States population policy. What do these statements share in common?

The underlying theme in each of the sentences above is population control. In each case the rationale is that the earth's six billion people exceed the planet's "carrying capacity". The planet is on the brink of a demographic catastrophe. The consumption of precious resources (land, food, water, clean air) threatens the earth's environment and the diversity of species. Short of exterminating half the world's people, what is to be done?

A policy of controlled development --"sustainable development"-- was codified at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, known as the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro. Momentum had been building since the United Nations Conference on Human Environment held in Stockholm in 1972. At Stockholm the outline for sustainable development was first drafted and presented to the world's leaders and the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) was born. More than a dozen international conferences followed, culminating in the Rio Conference.

At Rio several key global plans were initiated: Agenda 21 (a manifesto for development for the twenty-first century), the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Framework Convention on Climate Change. All adopt the concept of sustainable development as its principal vision.

Sustainable development is at the hub of the population control initiatives that have overtaken the globe in the last twenty-five years. Rio was followed by the UN's International Conference on Population and Development (Cairo 1994) and the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing 1995) World Summit for Social Development (Copenhagen 1995) and Conference on Human Settlements (Istanbul 1996). Each of these successive global conferences incorporated provisions for legalizing and promoting contraception, sterilization and abortion, often under the guise of the text phrases, "reproductive rights" or, "reproductive health". Cairo made clear the linkage between development and population: "Explicitly integrating population into economic and development strategies will both speed up the pace of sustainable development and contribute to the achievement of population objectives".

As could be expected, the target for control is women: From Agenda 21, "Special attention should be given to the critical role of women in population-environment programs and in achieving sustainable development (para. 5.48)". And, " empowerment of women is essential and that improving the status of women through better access to education, reproductive health, including family planning and sexual health, and jobs will yield high returns through reduced fertility, increased production". It becomes clear that females in the production line increases a nation's "economic" gains and reduces population.

The genius of the concept of sustainable development is that people and nations can be persuaded that contraception, sterilization and abortion lead to ecologically sound development and prosperity. Over 70 countries formed National Councils for Sustainable Development to implement sustainable development at the national level. The euphemism "population and development" is used instead of "population control". The culture of death is promoted as the only way to protect the life of the planet, overrun with "human parasites" whose "footprint" is too big for the earth to sustain.

The United Nations' much ballyhooed Millennium Summit of 2000 issued a Millennium Declaration that gushed, "We must spare no effort to free all of humanity, and above all our children and grandchildren from the threat of living on a planet irredeemably spoilt by human activities, and whose resources would no longer be sufficient for their needs" (para. 22).

In his report to the Commission on Population and Development, UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, insisted that need for population policies was urgent.

"Population and development policies - especially those relating to the size, growth and distribution of population - are necessary and vital components of the constellation of actions needed to ensure sustainable development and to safeguard the environment during the twenty-first century and beyond".

A follow up conference to the first United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, Rio +10, will be held August 26 - September 4 in Johannesburg, South Africa to assess the world's progress toward implementing Agenda 21. A series of pre-conference meetings, called "prepcoms" are scheduled in the months leading up to Rio +10. Already the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has issued a clarion call for more stringent implementation of population control measures.

A recent UNFPA pre-conference report is shrill in its warning, "unless significant action is taken, the damage to the environment will only increase as the world's population continues to grow". Nations are urged to exert "political will" to curb their populations. The report outlines a series of priorities for Johannesburg, such as an "integrated social agenda -- including education for all and universal access to reproductive health care and family planning -- into initiatives to promote sustainable development".

In short, Johannesburg promises to push the culture of death ahead with both carrot and stick. The UN and its agencies promise economic development but threaten loss of development loans unless nations comply with the population control measures adopted at the conference.

How many is too many?
A 1968 book, The Population Bomb by "futurist" Paul Ehrlich, detonated its own explosion of controversy over how many people are too many for the earth. At the same time, the "greens" movement was spreading and attracting foundation grants. Soon academia adopted the environmental project and "science" proved that apocalyptic famine and devastation were the near fate of mankind. However, it took the global muscle of the UN to force nations to adopt public policies that implemented population control.

The Pontifical Council on the Family has another view. Demographers the world over have taken issue with the UN's inflated population figures. Their projections are for the population to peak, then begin a rather steep decline. In 1998 the Council denounced the UN's population figures, warning instead of a debilitating de-population in 51 nations representing 44% of the earth's inhabitants.

A stark example of the Pontifical Council's concern over depopulation is found in Russia. The population has fallen so precipitously that in 2001 the Russian cabinet called for emergency measures to arrest the self-genocidal pattern of the last two generations. Ultra-nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky and others suggested polygamy - a new family policy that would permit up to five wives per man. More wives equal a shortcut to population growth. The cabinet rejected polygamy but promised to institute some population stimulation measures within the year.

Russia is hemorrhaging. Russia, where abortion was legalized in 1955, saw its population fall by 900,000 in the year 2000. Putin and his cabinet have stressed that the population crisis represents an economic threat and even a military threat. The demographic tailspin has created a vortex that is sucking the Russian social structures into a black hole of despair. As the population shrinks, economic woes mount. Alcoholism, drug addiction and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) skyrocket while births plummet.

Every nation in Europe is dying. Catholic Italy and Spain have the lowest birth rates. The reasons for the decline are complex -- materialism, loss of family values and decline of marriages. Yet while Europe contracepted and aborted itself into decline, the population void meant fewer workers. European nations have faced increasing tension from large immigrant populations who arrived to work in European factories, principally from Africa and the Middle East. Cultural clashes were inevitable. These demographic shifts are the source of fear -- it is part of what drives "northern" nations to insist that "Southern" nations slow their growth.

The Pontifical Council criticized the "alarmist basis" of the population figures and denounced various UN agencies that "have invested and continue to invest considerable amounts of money in order to force many countries to institute Neo-Malthusian policies". The Council pointed to "coercive means of controlling birth rates". In January reports surfaced of coercive measures and government persecution of the Christian Montagnards of Vietnam. Italian newspapers reported that UNFPA allocated $17.9 million to the Vietnamese government who targeted the Montagnards for sterilization programs. Development assistance is withheld unless programs of population control are employed. "These Malthusian actions, are carried out by national governments", claims the Council's report, "and are spread with the help of non-governmental organization (NGOs), of which the best known is the International Planned Parenthood Foundation".

Coercive "Global Training Programs
Sustainable Development goals have brought the world Global Training Programs, where experts are dispatched to teach, monitor and coerce nations into compliance. An example is Catholic Honduras. A UNFPA report notes, "Assistance from USAID, UNDP, UNICEF, the Millennium Institute, and private and public funds will collaboratively provide institutional support, including a computer-based multi-sectoral Threshold 21 tool for monitoring for results". Other nations are beginning to resist. Chile has recently declined to adopt UN optional protocols in fear that it would give the UN the power to force changes in the Chilean constitution which protects life in the womb.

There are legitimate concerns for the environment, for the fair and proper assistance developed nations must extend to developing nations, and for equitable educational opportunities for women. The Holy See Mission at the UN consistently promotes these authentic goals minus the snags of population control measures. It is the Catholic task to promote the human good without eliminating the humans.

Mary Jo Anderson, a member of Voices editorial board and writes regularly for World Net Daily. She has represented WFF at UN meetings.

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