Thursday, July 1, 1999 Published at 09:14 GMT 10:14 UK
Vatican gets Short shrift
Clare Short: Accuses the Vatican of being dangerously reactionary
The Vatican has entered an unholy alliance with the most reactionary countries in the world to stop an international effort to halt population growth, according to the UK international development secretary.
She accused it of seeking to reverse a previous agreement aimed at curbing the explosion in the number of people in the world.
Despite this, the refusal of many Catholic countries including Ireland and Spain to back the Vatican's stance meant it had not succeeded, Ms Short said.
"The poor old Vatican has just got this wrong," she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
"They have teamed up in an alliance here in New York at the United Nations with Sudan, Algeria - some of the most reactionary countries in the world - to try and undo the agreement at Cairo."
Ms Short said the Vatican had lost the argument and claimed this represented a victory for civilisation.
"If we do all the civilised things - give people access to contraception, give girls education - then the world's population will stabilise at 10 billion.
"If we don't develop and civilise then it will grow and grow and the strains on the world will become unbearable."
Ms Short earlier told the UN it had failed to take strong enough action to tackle the spread of Aids.
"We must stop pretending that sex does not happen to young people," she told the UN general assembly on Wednesday.
"We must start living up to our responsibility to tell young people what they need to know."
She is also demanding greater action to stop women dying in childbirth.
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