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United Nations Foundation: Extended Profile
By John Perazzo
2006

A 501 (c)(3) public charity created in 1998, the United Nations (UN) Foundation defines itself as an organization that "builds and implements public-private partnerships to address the world's most pressing problems, and also works to broaden support for the UN through advocacy and public outreach." The Foundation's establishment was funded entirely by entrepreneur Ted Turner's historic $1 billion gift (which Turner formally pledged on September 18, 1997) -- earmarked for the support of UN causes and activities. The Foundation's Chairman of the Board, Turner called his contribution an "investment in the future of humanity," and said he was "putting the rich on notice" to follow his philanthropic example. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan called Turner a "world citizen extraordinaire." In March 1998 Annan established the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships (UNFIP) to work closely with the UN Foundation and to determine how contributions from the latter should be spent.

Turner's pledge was not a one-time $1 billion disbursement, but rather was stipulated to be an amount of up to $1 billion of Time-Warner stock to be donated to the United Nations in ten annual installments. Because contributions to the UN are not tax-deductible in the United States, Turner set up a system whereby he would funnel his money through his own tax-exempt Foundation. Once all the relevant tax benefits are factored into the equation, Turner's billion-dollar gift could actually leave him wealthier than ever before. As USA Today reports, "Turner, or at least his heirs, could end up being $100 million richer because he's giving a billion away."

Turner's gift also raises a troubling legal issue: The UN charter (Article 17, Section 2) prohibits the United Nations from accepting donations from any source other than a member nation -- so as to prevent wealthy private interests (like Turner's UN Foundation) from exercising undue influence over the international organization. To date, the UN has not adequately addressed its justification for permitting this clear violation of its own charter.

The UN Foundation's current President is Timothy Wirth, who spent more than twenty years in the United States Congress, representing Colorado both in the House of Representatives and the Senate. He retired from the Senate after one term amid allegations of scandal: A January 27, 1992 Rocky Mountain News report stated that in October 1990 Wirth had helped derail legislation to regulate cable television rates -- just seven months after having received $80,000 in campaign contributions from the cable industry. After his years in elected office, Wirth went on to serve as President Clinton's Assistant Secretary of State for Global Affairs.

A former official of Planned Parenthood in Colorado, Wirth is a disciple of the teachings Thomas Malthus, the eighteenth-century British economist who predicted that worldwide population increases would soon render the human race unable to adequately feed itself and would inevitably result in mass starvation. Asked Wirth rhetorically in 1974, "Are we going to blow ourselves off the face of the globe or are we going to propagate ourselves off the face of the globe?" To address his concerns about overpopulation, Wirth has been a crusader for population control and "abortion rights," particularly in his role as Assistant Secretary of State for Global Affairs. He helped organize the 1994 international population summit in Cairo, Egypt, where he made a case for using abortion as a means of slowing population growth.

Wirth is also a longtime mouthpiece of global warming theory, which holds that greenhouse gases (the by-products of human industry) are incrementally causing the earth's climate to grow warmer and will ultimately lead to ecological disaster. During his Senate tenure, Wirth co-sponsored legislation supporting international aid programs that "enhance access to . . . bicycles, carts, pack animals, and similar affordable, non-motorized vehicles" for the purpose of reducing use of fossil fuels -- thereby virtually ensuring that the recipient nations would never be able to rise above Third World status. "We've got to ride the global warming issue," Wirth told his ideological kin. "Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing, in terms of economic policy and environmental policy."

From its inception, it was apparent that the UN Foundation's priorities were very much in line with Wirth's. During its first year of operation, the Foundation disbursed more than half of its grant money to two UN agencies: the United Nations Population Fund, or UNFPA ($12.2 million) and the United Nations Children's Fund, or UNICEF ($18.6 million). Both of these agencies are involved in controversial projects to promote government-funded abortion-on-demand. Among UNFPA's priorities is to finance "the delivery of family planning services" to reduce high fertility rates in such places as Bolivia, the Comoros, Lebanon, and the Philippines. Other UNFPA grants are intended to encourage adolescent girls to make use of abortion services (under the euphemism "family planning"), and to bring media attention to population control issues. UNICEF, which is headed by the radical feminist Carol Bellamy, has drafted a field manual (for use by relief workers in refugee camps) specifically calling for the provision of vacuum aspirators that are used for abortions. Also in the UN Foundation's first year, it gave almost $9 million to the World Health Organization (WHO), which is linked to UNFPA and UNICEF through a Coordinating Committee on Health.
 
The United Nations Foundation currently has four program areas toward which its philanthropy is channeled:

1) Children's Health: (The Foundation earmarked $54.9 million in grants for this area in 2004.) According to the UN Foundation, projects in this area are aimed at "changing the care-seeking behavior of caretakers by improving their skills to recognize diseases; to provide care at home when appropriate; and to take sick children to health facilities when care at home is not enough." Funding is provided for such interventions as the provision of micronutrients, insecticide-treated bednets, oral rehydration solutions, deworming and malaria drugs, immunizations, and improved sanitation. Mirroring the anti-tobacco industry's objectives in the United States, the Children's Health program also seeks to prevent -- by means of various taxes and restrictions on the industry -- tobacco use by young people all over the world.

2) Environment: (The Foundation earmarked $15.3 million in grants for this area in 2004.) This program area is founded on the premise that "[t]he loss of species and ecosystems, combined with global warming, will have a serious impact on the natural environment and, in turn, on the humans who depend on the world's limited resources."  "Life on Earth is threatened as never before," says the UN Foundation. "Some scientists estimate that as many as two-thirds of all species may disappear by the end of the 21st century."

The UN Foundation supports what it calls "World Heritage sites," which were designated by the UNESCO 1972 World Heritage Convention as places of "outstanding universal value . . . for whose protection it is the duty of the international community as a whole to cooperate." "World Heritage sites," says the Foundation, "face many of the same problems threatening biodiversity around the globe, including habitat loss, invasive species, over-exploitation, or pollution."

Mirroring Wirth's (and Ted Turner's) concerns about the global warming threat, the UN Foundation also funds a Sustainable Energy and Climate Change Program. "The world's scientists," the Foundation states, "project that climate change will cause sea levels to rise, rainfall patterns to change, and extreme weather events to increase in frequency and severity. To avoid these and other undesired consequences, the nations of the world must work together to reduce the accumulation of greenhouse gases by improving energy efficiency and switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. . . . The United Nations Foundation is working with the United Nations, governments, NGOs, and the private sector to develop and implement sustainable, clean energy solutions to address the challenge of global climate change." A high priority for this program is to persuade the United States to sign the Kyoto Protocol, which the Bush administration has determined would do great harm to the U.S. economy.

3) Peace, Security, and Human Rights: (The Foundation earmarked $5.3 million in grants for this area in 2004.) This funding area is divided into four subcategories:

  • Conflict Prevention: This program is aimed at "addressing the root causes of violence before the outbreak of armed conflict, and the ensuing need for post-conflict reconstruction and reconciliation."
  • Peace Building: This program claims to promote "a range of approaches to facilitate the establishment of a durable peace that prevents the recurrence of violence by addressing root causes through reconciliation, institution building and political and well as economic transformation."
  • Human Rights: This program upholds the tenets of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted in 1948 by the General Assembly of the United Nations.
  • Terrorism: Funding in this area reflects the Foundation's predisposition to view terrorism not as the barbaric behavior of bloodthirsty regimes and/or cultures, but rather as an understandable means by which oppressed and deprived peoples seek redress for legitimate grievances. Thus the Foundation "supports the UN's efforts to combat global terrorism by focusing on long-term solutions aimed at eradicating the root causes of conflict; insecurity, injustice and disenfranchisement."

4) Women and Population: (The Foundation earmarked $6.1 million in grants for this area in 2004.) The UN Foundation focuses most of its resources within this area toward programs that provide adolescent girls with "livelihood skills; education; youth development; life skills and participation; economic access and empowerment; and reproductive health services and information."

In pursuit of its aforementioned ideals, the UN Foundation has formed "partnerships" with numerous businesses and leftist organizations dedicated to similar ends. In March 2004, for instance, the Foundation announced that it was launching a $750,000 joint venture with the Gillette Company and the Nature Conservancy. Dubbed the International Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership (ICWRP), this initiative was intended to "to restore wetlands and other aquatic habitats around the world. 

The list of such partnerships is a lengthy one, as evidenced by the UN Foundation's statement that it "gratefully acknowledges the support of the following corporations, individuals, and organizations": the Alcoa Foundation; the American Red Cross; AOL Time Warner; the AOL Time Warner Foundation; the Baxter International Foundation; the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Byers' Choice, Ltd.; Cameron and Hornbostel LLP (C&H); the Carthy Foundation; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation; the Coca-Cola Company; Conservation International; the Cousins Foundation; the David and Lucile Packard Foundation; the Department for International Development; Deutsche Bank; E7; E & Co; Electricite de France; Engevix; the Enron Corporation; Estee Lauder Companies, Inc.; Fauna & Flora International; Fellowship Congregational Church; the Ford Foundation; General Motors; GCT; Gillette; GlaxoSmithKline; the Global Business Council on HIV/AIDS; Government of Italy: Ministry of Environment; Halcrow; the Heinz Family Foundation; Hydro Quebec; the International Development Research Center; the International Olympic Committee; the J.M. Kaplan Fund; the Jane Goodall Institute; the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; MTV Networks International; the Medical Research Council; the Merck Company Foundation; the Mosaic Foundation; the Nature Conservancy; Newman's Own Fund; the Open Society Institute; the Pfizer Foundation; the Ploughshares Fund; the RARE Center for Tropical Conservation; the Research Institute for Energy and Nuclear Technology; the Rockefeller Brothers Fund; the Rockefeller Foundation; Rotary International; the Shell Foundation; Shenzhen Energy Company; Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation; United States Agency for International Development; US Fund for UNICEF; the W. Alton Jones Foundation; the Wallace Global Fund; the Wildlife Conservation Society; the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; the World Economic Forum; the World Resources Institute; the World Wildlife Fund; the Kenneth & Myra Monfort Charitable Foundation; and the Do'lkyte Foundation.


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