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PREPARATIONS FOR THE CONFERENCE

COLOMBIA: The first speaker of the day was Colombia on behalf of the Group of 77. Commenting on the expert group reports, he said that: a more profound and concrete consideration of the financing for population activities must be undertaken; a more systematic formulation of the recommendations is needed; and, ultimately, each State has the responsibility to choose the implementation criteria to cope with its particular needs. The G-77 also submitted two operative proposals: an increase in the resources devoted to intergovernmental and secretariat work; and extending PrepCom III, scheduled to be held in April 1994.

BRAZIL: Mauro Sergio Couto emphasized that the Cairo document must ensure the sovereignty of all States when dealing with population matters. He supported drafting a new plan of action taking into consideration the changes that have occurred in the last 20 years. On the issue of reproductive rights, he said that adolescents and the poorer strata of the population should be able to curtail unintended pregnancy.

SWITZERLAND: M. Jacques Martin called for increased recognition by Northern countries of the role that poverty and lack of development play in the population crisis. He also stated that sustainable development requires that both unsustainable consumption and production in the North, and poverty and social injustice in the South must be dealt with. He further stated that in dealing with international migration it is imperative to address the causes of such population flows.

UNITED STATES: Timothy Wirth's intervention stressed the changes in US policy since President Clinton took office. He mentioned that the US is developing a comprehensive new approach to international population issues, including: freedom of choice regarding family size; access to quality reproductive health care; the empowerment of women; preservation of the natural environment; and sustainable development. He mentioned three major concerns to be addressed by the Conference: women's health and status; population and the environment; and migration. Finally, he said that the US supports reproductive choice, including access to safe abortion. This last comment generated a round of applause.

CHINA: Mr. Chang Chongxuan mentioned that population on the Chinese mainland will approach 1.3 billion by the end of the century, far exceeding the figure projected in the early 1980s. This is a grave situation since China is a developing country with a comparatively weak economic foundation. He also highlighted national preparations for the ICPD.

SECRETARIAT OF THE FOURTH WORLD CONFERENCE ON WOMEN: The representative from the Women's Conference Secretariat focussed on the close linkages between the ICPD and the Women's Conference. In preparing for the Women's Conference, he noted that development issues are increasingly being examined from a gender perspective. Rather than focussing on women per se, the respective roles of men and women, how these are balanced and how they are being altered in the face of global changes must be addressed.

INTERNATIONAL LABOUR ORGANIZATION: The representative from the ILO stressed the relationship between labor and employment issues and population. He commented that in 1976 the ILO set a target of full employment by the year 2000 and now this seems more remote than ever before. Rapid population and labor force growth makes it difficult to make employment opportunities and social services available. He urged the Secretariat to examine existing Conventions, including ILO conventions on child labor and employment discrimination, when drafting the document to be adopted in Cairo.

INTERNATIONAL UNION FOR THE SCIENTIFIC STUDY OF POPULATION: The representative of this organization, which includes 2000 professional demographers, mentioned that they participated in the expert group meetings held in preparation for the ICPD and are responsible for many of the views reflected in the final recommendations. He also outlined some of the other activities the Union is planning in preparation for the Cairo Conference.

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S HEALTH COALITION: Bene E. Madunagu spoke on behalf of members of this alliance of African women and women of African descent. Her speech emphasized the negative impact that structural adjustment policies have on population programs. She also said that there is a need for programs to end harmful traditional practices such as genital mutilation through female circumcision, but that those traditional practices that have a positive impact on health and culture should be preserved.

FINLAND: The representative of Finland specifically mentioned the expert group meeting on population and women. He commended it for its holistic approach in addressing the relevant areas of health and education, equality, family planning, reproductive rights, quality of services, adolescents' needs and the involvement of men.

CANADA: Michael Shenstone identified the fundamental issues before the Conference as including population and development, reproductive health, migration and ageing. He also referred to the Government of Canada's national preparations that includes a National Advisory Council comprised of a cross-section of NGOs.

PAKISTAN: Sher Afghan Khan urged that gender-based analysis become an essential instrument in all development activities. He stated that the real contribution of women to the economy has not been recognized. He called for greater assistance from the international community and stressed the critical role that NGOs must play in the development and provision of social services.

MEXICO: The delegate from Mexico summarized the results of the Latin America and Caribbean regional conference that was held in Mexico City earlier this month. He said that they achieved consensus on the prevailing situation of population and development, established priorities and a set of relevant recommendations.

NORWAY: Birgit Schjerven reaffirmed the difficult challenge of balancing individual rights and responsibilities with the overall obligations of society. She also stated that to make reproductive choices a reality, both men and women have to show responsibility in their sexual relations. She expressed concern that some of the conclusions presented by the Expert Groups were somewhat simplistic and required further elaboration. She echoed Prime Minister Brundtland's speech at the Earth Summit that international conferences run by consensus can only advance at the pace of the most reluctant mover in each field.

JACQUES COUSTEAU: Jacques Cousteau went into great detail about the disparities between rich and poor. He used a personal example to show how the decrease in fertility can take four generations or 100 years. Finally, he stressed that necessary funds for population programs could be mobilized from existing military budgets and the drug trade.

POPULATION INSTITUTE: Werner Fornos summarized the results of a meeting held in Santo Domingo where 30 NGOs reviewed the results of the ICPD expert group meetings. These organizations called for a doubling of population expenditures from US$4.5 billion annually to US$9 billion by the year 2000. They also called for the ICPD to establish as its primary goal the achievement of population stabilization at 8 billion. To meet this goal, a 21% increase in contraceptive usage in the developing world is essential. The other recommendations can be found in the "Santo Domingo Declaration," which was distributed in the conference room.

EXECUTIVE SECRETARY OF ESCAP: The Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific reviewed the results of the Asian regional meeting and the resulting Bali Declaration on Population and Sustainable Development. He commented that the ESCAP region has 3/5 of the world's population in 1/4 of the world's land mass. ESCAP is also trying to develop an approach for planned urbanization, access to family planning and reproductive health services and the development dimension of population.

WOMEN'S ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATION: Bella Abzug stressed that every issue before the PrepCom must address the women's perspective as well as the impact of the issues in question on women. She emphasized that women must have the individual right and social responsibility to decide whether, how and when to have children, and how many to have. She expressed hope that the majority of heads of delegation in Cairo will "appear in their silk and cotton dresses, their robes and saris, their turbans and hand-crafted jewelry to report to a conference composed of equal numbers of men and women. That's the way it was in Noah's ark and that's the way it should be in the future."

PLANNED PARENTHOOD FEDERATION OF AMERICA: Sally Patterson from the PPFA called on governments to guarantee all individuals the right to decide for themselves the number and spacing of their children. Other recommendations to governments included: ensuring that personal and private decisions regarding childbearing remain voluntary; providing and ensuring access to fertility regulation services, including abortion; and making family planning an integral part of all foreign assistance programs.

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