271. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (Malone) to the Under Secretary of State for Security Assistance, Science, and Technology-Designate (Schneider)1


  • Population in the FY 1984 AID Budget


The proposed straightlining or cut in FY 1984 U.S. international population assistance is inconsistent with the Ottawa and Versailles communiques2 and with recent statements of senior Administration spokesmen, including yourself,3 and creates potential Congressional and foreign policy problems. Population programs in the proposed FY 1984 AID budget are either straightlined at $211 million, or reduced by 3.3 percent to $204 million. In either case, this represents a diminished priority within an otherwise rising development assistance budget. Further, the allocation for the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) is slated to drop by 26 percent, from $33.7 million in each of the Fiscal Years 1982 and 1983, to $25 million.

A Potential Problem with Congress

Diminished priority for population assistance risks undercutting support for our economic and security assistance requests by provoking a reaction from the strong Congressional supporters of these programs. In its report on the 1982 foreign aid bill, the House-Senate Appropriations Conference Committee stated: “The conferees reiterate their belief that population and family planning measures are a vital component of Third World economic development.”

In your letter to Senator Percy this month,4 you quoted the Presidential Summit communiques pledging “greater emphasis” and “special encouragement” for population programs, and indicated “vigorous personal support to the President’s programs in the family planning and population area.”

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Ambassador Kirkpatrick, in testimony May 4 before the House Appropriations Committee, stated that “there is a general view” that United Nations population programs (i.e., UNFPA) “are the most successful programs in the less developed world.” In a New York statement, Ambassador Kirkpatrick said, “I personally am very enthusiastic about the work of UNFPA. It is one of the most important fields of activity in UN endeavors.” She added, “Anyone who has studied development particularly understands that we cannot hope to significantly contribute to the well being of people unless we help them cope with the population growth problem . . . To do less would be like pouring water into a bucket with a hole in it.”

Third World Interest in Population Aid

CIA and other analyses5 indicate potential dangers of social unrest, political instability, and migration pressures associated with rapid population growth in several areas of strategic interest to the U.S., including Kenya, Central America, Turkey, Indonesia, and Egypt. The leaders of many pro-Western countries have publicly stressed the importance of voluntary family planning programs as a national development priority; these include Marcos, Suharto, Lopez Portillo, Mubarak, Bourguiba, and others. The once-in-a-decade International Population Conference, scheduled for 1984 in Mexico City,6 has exceptionally strong support from the developing countries (in contrast to their attitudes at the 1974 Bucharest Conference); many LDC’s are even contributing to financial support of the 1984 Conference.

Demand for external assistance in this area has never been greater. While the rest of AID development assistance is rising, the population proposal gives a wrong signal to the rest of the world concerning the relative priority accorded by the U.S. to efforts of developing countries to reduce their population growth rates. Despite budgetary stringency, other donor countries—notably Germany, Japan, Sweden, U.K., the Netherlands—are increasing their support of population programs, but even this cannot offset the impact of a U.S. decline or straightlining of this critical account.


Against this background, the proposed budget figures for population merit rethinking. It would be regrettable if the U.S., which has been a leader in this field for 15 years, would decrease its assistance in the year of the International Population Conference. In order to be consistent with the statements of the President and others and the urgent nature of the [Page 756]problem, U.S. population assistance in FY 1984 should, at a minimum, increase pari passu with the rest of the development assistance budget. This would indicate $233 million for the total population account (regional and central), including $37.1 million for UNFPA. The additional $22–28 million, which could be absorbed elsewhere, would not only support critically needed programs, it could also buy some security for the rest of our budget request.

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Guhin, Michael A.: Files, Population/Studies (3). No classification marking. Drafted by Benedick on August 27 and cleared in NEA, EA, IO, EB/ODF, AF/EPS, and ARA.
  2. See Public Papers: Reagan, 1982, Book I, pp. 734–736.
  3. Not further identified.
  4. Not found.
  5. See footnote 3, Document 266.
  6. The conference took place August 5-13, 1984. See Documents 288 290.