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PREPARATION FOR THE CONFERENCE

The afternoon Plenary opened with discussion on Agenda Item 4, Preparation for the Conference. The first speaker was Joseph Chamie, Officer-in-Charge of the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Information and Policy Analysis. Chamie reviewed the six expert group meetings held in preparation for the ICPD. He highlighted common themes, including: poverty and social inequality; the human rights dimension of population programmes; the central role women play in development; the vital importance of the family as the cornerstone of society; accessibility to services, particularly in the area of reproductive health; rights and needs of sub-populations, such as children, adolescents, the elderly and the very old, women and migrants; and issues related to AIDS.

DENMARK: Denmark, on behalf of the European Community, commented that in many developing countries, rapidly increasing populations impose growing constraints on social and economic development. In addition to the linkages between population and sustainable development, population policies must be focussed on the individual. The fundamental human rights of individuals and couples to decide freely on the size of their family must be recognized. Denmark also stressed the need to strengthen the participation of women, pay attention to the role of men, and strengthen the provision and improvement of quality reproductive health systems. Governments should also seek to redress the causes of immigration in order to alleviate the massive and uncontrolled international migration flows.

EGYPT: The delegate from Egypt stressed that many of the concepts relating to population have changed over the past few years, largely as a result of the Rio Conference, Agenda 21, UN restructuring and a recognition of the relationship between population, environment and economic development. He urged governments to prepare for the Conference at the national level and to raise the level of public awareness. He also referred to the Government of Egypt's preparations for the Conference, including the establishment of a National Preparatory Committee.

SWEDEN: The delegate from Sweden maintained that the size of a population is itself not the problem. Rather it is when the rate of population growth outstrips the available resources that problems arise. He also emphasized the unsustainable nature of Northern consumption and production patterns and that both population and consumption issues have global implications. He urged that the advancement of women in all spheres is another element of development that has a profound influence on population issues. The Swedish delegate also referred to the importance of NGOs and to the worrisome fact that population aid is still quite low and limited to the same donor group as 10-15 years ago. He further urged that the result of the Cairo Conference should be a programme that focuses on the causes of population imbalances rather than the effects.

ARGENTINA: The delegate from Argentina called for the Conference to be elevated to the General Assembly level instead of the ECOSOC level to ensure greater political impact. He also called for the ICPD Secretariat to be funded by the regular UN budget. He recommended that the length of PrepCom III, to be held in April 1994, be increased from two to four weeks. He mentioned a number of substantive issues, including: humans as the center of policies; aging populations; the need for integrated family planning; the need to mobilize resources; and the key role of NGOs.

POPULATION COUNCIL: In its address, the Population Council identified three important issues: consideration of the new issues that have emerged since the 1984 Mexico Conference; integration of these new issues into the population/family planning context; and the need for a wider NGO partnership. Key factors essential to the improvement of population programmes were identified as: the limitations of technology alone; the need for higher quality family planning services; and the role that women must play in the development and implementation of programmes and policies. She denounced all forms of coercive or abusive measures in family planning.

UN ECONOMIC COMMISSION FOR EUROPE: The delegate from the UNECE discussed the regional meeting for Europe and North America and highlighted some of the concerns raised at that meeting, such as the needs of countries in transition in Eastern and Central Europe; the need to provide a climate of sustainable economic and development growth for developing countries; and the need to improve the status of women at all social, economic and political levels.

INTERNATIONAL PLANNED PARENTHOOD FEDERATION: The representative from this NGO, which includes grassroots national family planning organizations in over 140 countries, summarized its Vision 2000 document adopted in October 1992. The IPPF urged the PrepCom to ensure that the Conference brings together governments, NGOs, the private sector and donors to meet the immense family planning needs. Other issues raised included the promotion of sexual and reproduction health; the fact that 99 percent of maternal deaths due to unsafe abortions occur in developing countries; empowerment of women; and access of youth to contraceptives.

NGO PLANNING AND STEERING COMMITTEES FOR THE ICPD: The representative from the NGO Committee invited government delegates to participate in the NGO activities organized during the next two weeks at the UN and at the Church Center. She emphasized the large number of NGOs from women's groups, family planning organizations, environmental groups, professional associations and others represented at the PrepCom.

Dr. Sai concluded the day's meeting by congratulating the PrepCom for assuming a level of cogency right from the start and expressed hope that this bodes well for the rest of the session.

IN THE CORRIDORS

Some of the problems associated with accommodating NGOs at PrepCom II have been alleviated through the contribution of funds by the Non-Governmental Liaison Service (NGLS) to the NGO Planning Committee for a photocopying machine and a computer center at the Church Center. Contributions have been received by the NGO Planning Center from NGLS (US$15,000) and UNFPA (US$10,000) towards providing interpretive services for NGO meetings. Several governments from developing countries have or are in the process of bringing NGO representatives onto their delegations. Finally, observers have noted that the conference room shows gender balance since 90% of the NGOs are women and 90% of the delegates are male.

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