- Accessible financial information
- Negative press
Accessible Financial Information
UNICEF is not incredibly financially transparent and publishes only one year of its annual reports on its website at a time. Additionally, the organization does not publish its IRS Form 990s online.
Throughout its history, UNICEF has been a target of much criticism. A significant portion of recent negative press coverage occurred during a ten-year span from 1995 to 2005 when Carol Bellamy was serving as UNICEF's fourth director. A few controversies that the organization has been involved in include:
Focus on Education for Women and Girls
With the belief that educated mothers are more likely to promote education for their children and be able to better care for them, Ms. Bellamy focused heavily on improving conditions in third-world countries for women and children. However, many felt and still feel that this particular focus left many children under the age of five at continued risk, and child mortality in developing countries remained alarmingly high for those most touched by poverty, disease, famine, or war. During Ms. Bellamy's tenure as director of UNICEF, her critics accused her of spending too much time on issues which did not positively impact those children in the worst circumstances.
Sexual Health, Birth Spacing, and Abortions
As part of UNICEF's efforts to create better conditions for women and girls, a robust sexual health initiative was implemented in which UNICEF advocated birth control, spacing pregnancies at least two years apart, and access to safe abortions. Although the organization itself did not offer or fund abortions, it did advocate for safe and legal abortions, which brought UNICEF under scrutiny and caused many pro-life groups, particularly Catholics, to withdraw support for the organization.
Baby Formula Controversies
Infant formula manufacturers and UNICEF have both accused the other of dangerous practices. In the 1970s and 1980s, formula manufacturers gave samples of formula to women, along with images of chubby and healthy-looking infants. Mothers wanted their babies to be well fed and began to supplement, eventually becoming dependent on formula, all the while as their own milk was decreasing. When mothers could no longer breastfeed and were left with dwindling supplies of formula, which was too expensive for them to afford regularly, they watered the formula down and many babies died of malnutrition.
WHO and UNICEF Vaccines
WHO and UNICEF have been accused of participating in governmental plots to force sterilization of citizens through vaccines. HCG, which sterilizes women, was found in polio vaccines given to Nigerian youth in 2004. In 2015, HCG was found in tetanus vaccines being given in Kenya.
Blocking International Adoptions
UNICEF's policy states that children are much better off living in their own country with extended families than being in an orphanage. Additionally, the organization has been accused of manipulating policies to slow or stop international adoptions for those children who are in orphanages.
Some are concerned about UNICEF's 2016 policy statement about LGBT parents and their children, which states that family ties should be protected, no matter the sexual orientation of parents or children. While this policy should not necessarily dissuade people from donating to UNICEF, critics do state that this policy oversteps the organization's bounds.