January 20, 2005: Headlines: Directors - Bellamy: United Nations: Unicef: CNS News: New UNICEF Head Signals Shift From Predecessor Carol Bellamy's Agenda

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Directors of the Peace Corps: Carol Bellamy: January 23, 2005: Index: PCOL Exclusive: Peace Corps Directors - Bellamy : Carol Bellamy and the Peace Corps: January 20, 2005: Headlines: Directors - Bellamy: United Nations: Unicef: CNS News: New UNICEF Head Signals Shift From Predecessor Carol Bellamy's Agenda

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New UNICEF Head Signals Shift From Predecessor Carol Bellamy's Agenda

New UNICEF Head Signals Shift From Predecessor Carol Bellamy's Agenda

New UNICEF Head Signals Shift From Predecessor Carol Bellamy's Agenda

New UNICEF Head Signals Shift From Predecessor's Agenda
By Patrick Goodenough
CNSNews.com International Editor
January 20, 2005

(CNSNews.com) - After a decade of controversial leadership by an executive director whom critics said focused more on reproductive issues and children's "rights" than on their survival, the U.N. children's agency UNICEF is getting a new leader.

The nominee, outgoing U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, hinted this week that she would shift attention back onto advocacy for children, and away from the reproductive rights agenda pursued by the woman she will replace.

Veneman, a Republican picked for the UNICEF post by President Bush, will succeed Carol Bellamy, a Democrat and Clinton appointee, whose management of the agency since 1995 has troubled pro-life campaigners and other observers.

Formally nominated to the post by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Veneman said at a press conference Tuesday that she brought "an agenda of helping children, particularly in the areas of education and health and to address the issues of hunger and malnutrition."

In response to a question about reproductive health, she said: "I don't believe that these issues are relevant to the missions of UNICEF."

By contrast, UNICEF's work under Bellamy so worried pro-lifers that the Vatican in 1997 suspended its symbolic contribution to the agency, citing concerns about pro-abortion and population control policies.

A 2003 report by the New York-based Catholic Family and Human Rights Group (C-FAM) concluded that under Bellamy, UNICEF's mandate to help children was being jeopardized by an agenda of "radical feminism."

Among other things, it cited the attention paid to education for girls, rather than for impoverished children of both sexes; the agency's endorsement of statements calling for the legalization of abortion and increased access to abortion; and its focus on reproductive health care services and sexual education programs.

Last month, the editor of the Lancet, a leading medical journal in Britain, said in an editorial that UNICEF had "lost its way" under Bellamy.

Dr. Richard Horton wrote that her preoccupation with a "rights-based approach" ignored that fact that children would have "no opportunity for development at all unless they survive."

"The language of rights means little to a child stillborn, an infant dying in pain from pneumonia, or a child desiccated by famine. The most fundamental right of all is the right to survive."

'Champion needed'

Some 10.6 million children under five die each year, including many from easily-prevented causes, such as diarrheal dehydration, respiratory infections and malaria.

Health experts have noted that Bellamy's predecessor, the highly-regarded Jim Grant, launched a UNICEF initiative in 1982 which made significant progress in reducing child mortality over the years that followed.

Grant's advocacy and strategic planning were estimated to have saved the lives of more than 20 million children, according to the Lancet.

The gains continued until the mid-1990s when they either slowed or were even reversed. Bellamy took the job after Grant died in 1995.

Commenting before Bellamy's replacement was announced, Dr. Robert Black of the School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University said that both children's rights and children's survival were important.

"I would consider the right to survive a primary consideration, but fully recognize that children have the right to a healthy development, schooling etc." he told Cybercast News Service.

"The criticism is not that UNICEF has done too much on child rights, but rather that in the last decade it has done too little on child survival. With more than 10 million children continuing to die in developing countries each year, the global community needs to do much more to bring the proven and inexpensive preventive and curative health services to those in need."

Black said UNICEF should have been the global champion of child survival but it had not been as effective as the need demanded.

"The next executive director must be an effective champion for children and this cannot be credibly accomplished without a focus on child survival."

In its 2003 report, C-FAM said UNICEF's fine reputation among large international organizations was at risk, both from within and from forces in the wider international community who were demanding that it change.

It called on donor nations and individuals to take a closer look at UNICEF activities and demand greater transparency.

C-FAM said UNICEF should give equal attention to boys and girls and focus on its original mandate - the care of children - rather than addressing women's issues which were covered by many other international agencies.

It should also disassociate itself with organizations promoting or performing abortion, and renounce any documents it had previously endorsed which called for abortion services or the legalization of abortion, C-FAM recommended.

When she takes her post on May 1, Veneman will be the fifth director of UNICEF since the agency's founding in 1946. All have been Americans. The U.S. is the largest funder of UNICEF, which more than 7,000 people working in 157 countries.

Bellamy has been named as the next president and CEO of World Learning, a non-profit organization "dedicated to promoting international education, social justice, and world peace," headquartered in Brattleboro, Vermont.

When this story was posted in January 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: CNS News

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Directors - Bellamy; United Nations; Unicef



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