Washington International Law Journal


Hannah A. Saona


On his first day in office, U.S. President George W. Bush reinstated a policy that restricts United States Agency for International Development funding of foreign non-governmental organizations. A year and a half later, President Bush attracted media attention by rejecting funding commitments to the United Nations Population Fund ("UNFPA") based on its alleged involvement with the People's Republic of China ("PRC"). The PRC, in an effort to curb rampant population growth, has adopted a one child per couple policy. This policy has, in some cases, led to the use of coercive family planning practices such as forced abortion and sterilization. Though the UINFPA does not contribute to such coercive measures, the Bush Administration felt the only way to be sure that U.S. dollars were not funding such activities was to discontinue funding completely. Despite national practices, international law binds both the PRC and the United States to protect an individual's reproductive rights. Such rights include the right to determine the size and spacing of one's family without government control, the right to reproductive health, and the right of access to family planning information and contraceptives. These rights are recognized and protected by both international treaty law and international reproductive rights policy. The coercive policies of the PRC and the funding policies of the United States, thus violate international treaty obligations and are poor international policy. To meet its international obligations and policies, the United States should ratify the International Covenant for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights so that funding is no longer discretionary and dependent on executive prerogative. Although these treaties and policies already bind the PRC, the PRC will only be able to move in the direction of protecting human rights and reproductive rights with international financial support, including support from the United States.

First Page