Press Release

UNFPA Response to Reports of Peru Sterilizations

26 July 2002
Author: UNFPA

UNITED NATIONS, New York - In order to clarify any misunderstandings based on old and often rejected allegations attempting to link the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to reports of forced sterilization in Peru, the Fund finds it necessary to reiterate that it did not support coercion in Peru or anywhere else. These allegations are again being disseminated through the media by PRI, a fringe group that engages in a campaign against UNFPA in pursuit of its ideological opposition to family planning.

When it hears of the use of coercion in any country, UNFPA takes immediate action to investigate and, if true, to demand an end to such practices, in line with the human rights-based approach to family planning it promotes.

UNFPA first learned about reports of involuntary sterilization in Peru in late 1997 and expressed strong concerns to the Ministry of Health, recommending investigations. At the request of the Ministry, in February 1998, the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) and UNFPA examined the issue and recommended measures to protect the rights of Peruvian women. Immediately afterwards, a series of protocols and procedure manuals were issued to ensure compliance with international human rights standards.

These were meant to ensure that family planning services are provided on voluntary bases. They insisted on the observance of the right of users to free and informed consent and strengthened counselling procedures. A mandatory 72-hour waiting period between initial contact, counselling and the actual sterilization was introduced.

UNFPA also supported the 1997 establishment of the National Tripartite Commission on Population and Development to oversee the implementation of the rights-based Programme of Action of the 1994 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development. As part of its mandate, in 1998 the Commission decided to act as watchdog of family planning programmes, trying to ensure the elimination of all coercive practices. The body included international organizations, such as the United States Agency for International Development, United Nations Development Programme, PAHO and UNFPA, and local women's groups, such as the Manuela Ramos Movement and the Flora Tristan Centre for Peruvian Women.

UNFPA's programme in Peru in the 1990s and today aim to help improve the quality of reproductive health care to ensure full respect of human rights and gender-sensitive services.

The attempt once again to link UNFPA to coercive practices is part of a strategy of groups ideologically opposed to family planning, which use misinformation and falsehoods to weaken progress in the implementation of the Programme of Action adopted by consensus by 179 governments at the 1994 Cairo Conference on Population and Development.

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UNFPA is the world's largest multilateral source of population assistance, with programmes in 142 countries. Since it became operational in 1969, the Fund has provided some $5.6 billion to developing countries to meet reproductive health needs and support sustainable development.

Contact Information:

Abubakar Dungus
Tel.: +1 (212) 297-5031
Fax: +1 (212) 557-6416

Stirling Scruggs
Tel.: +1 (212) 297-5011

Kristin Hetle
Tel.: +1 212-297-5020

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