From the widest social perspective, or that of the development of the human race, individuals with certain characteristics may be considered unfit to survive, whether because of the disproportionate amount of resources required to care for them or because of genetically determined mental and physical defects which are undesirable in that development. This perspective raises the controversial question of the criteria of fitness for survival and by which it should be determined when the chronically or incurably ill should be allowed to die. This leads onto the equally controversial issues of the conditions of the elimination of those beyond hope and of the sterilization of the unfit to prevent them from perpetuating their defects.
The natural eliminative process has been subverted by genetic tampering and advances in remedial techniques. Foetuses and infants which would otherwise not survive can now be maintained alive despite their defects. The following categories of people may be considered unfit: the mentally unfit (the insane, psychotics, the feeble-minded, the grossly subnormal) and the criminally insane; epileptics; those in prolonged and irreversible coma; those with severe brain damage; those in the terminal phases of illnesses (syphilis, leprosy, tuberculosis, chronic renal and heart disease, multiple sclerosis, etc); the highly deformed (tetraplegia or paraplegia; grossly deformed neonates); those with irremediable behaviour defects (psychopaths, sociopaths incorrigible delinquents; repeated sex offenders; and criminals convicted for capital offences). Other categories might include: chronic substance abusers (drug addicts, alcoholics); and the very senile.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
Non-profit, apolitical, independent, and non-governmental in nature, the UIA has been a pioneer in the research, monitoring and provision of information on international organizations, international associations and their global challenges since 1907.