ENB:06:11 [Next] . [Previous] . [Contents]

PREPARATIONS FOR THE CONFERENCE

Discussions on the preparations for the conference were carried out in the plenary during the first week of the PrepCom. In her opening address, Dr. Nafis Sadik, Secretary General of the Conference, stated that the purpose of this session was to give the Conference Secretariat clear guidance and the mandate to draft the final conference documents that will be the basis for PrepCom III negotiations. Dr. Sadik commented on the positive fact that more and more countries are willing to address population issues openly within the context of national economic, social and political policies and priorities. She also referred to the fact that the Cairo conference will contribute to both the Social Summit in Copenhagen in 1995 and the Women's Conference in Beijing in 1995.

Sadik noted the importance of NGO participation and identified some key concerns that should be addressed, such as the centrality of the individual, the role of women and girls, the involvement of women in all aspects of population activities, and international migration. Sadik expressed hope that the Conference would adopt goals for the next twenty years on such issues as maternal and infant mortality, education for women and girls, gender equality and family planning.

The remainder of the week was taken up with statements by national governments, UN agencies and NGOs. These statements focussed on national population policies and programmes, national preparatory activities and included substantive recommendations regarding the issues to be addressed within the final document. Some of the highlights and ideas presented in this discussion are as follows.

Denmark, on behalf of the EC, stressed the need to strengthen the participation of women, pay attention to the role of men, strengthen the provision and improvement of quality reproductive health systems and redress the causes of immigration. Sweden, Switzerland and Japan mentioned the unsustainable nature of Northern consumption and production patterns, and that both population and consumption issues have global implications. Argentina and the G-77 called for the Conference to be elevated from an ECOSOC conference to the level of the General Assembly, and recommended that the length of PrepCom III be increased from two to four weeks. The International Planned Parenthood Federation urged that the Conference bring together governments, NGOs, the private sector and donors to meet the immense family planning needs. Brazil and Malaysia said that the Cairo Document must ensure the sovereignty of all States when dealing with population matters.

The US intervention stressed the changes in US policy since President Clinton took office. He also said that the US supports reproductive choice, including access to safe abortion. The International Labour Organization stressed the relationship between labor and employment. The International Women's Health Coalition and Kenya emphasized the negative impact that structural adjustment policies have on population programmes. Pakistan urged that gender-based analysis become an essential instrument in all development activities. Norway reaffirmed the difficult challenge of balancing individual rights and responsibilities with the overall obligations of society.

Jacques Cousteau stressed that necessary funds for population programmes could be mobilized from existing military budgets. The Population Institute called for the ICPD to establish as its primary goal the achievement of population stabilization at 8 billion. The Women's Environment and Development Organization 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. The Planned Parenthood Federation of America, among others, called on governments to guarantee all individuals the right to decide for themselves the number and spacing of their children.

New Zealand mentioned the lack of any examination of indigenous issues in any of the expert group reports. Indonesia insisted that basic human rights must be acknowledged in family planning. Equatorial Guinea said that there must be an effort to include population issues in primary school textbooks. The Center for Reproductive Law and Policy called on governments to enforce even-handed condemnation of coercion and discrimination with regard to family planning. The National Wildlife Federation requested that the Secretariat provide cost estimates for women's health care and education so that these matters can be dealt with in an effective framework. Afghanistan and Rwanda mentioned population issues related to war, migration and displaced persons. Mali stressed the role of NGOs in the implementation of national population policies. Iran urged that cultural, social and religious values of countries be respected by the Conference.

[Return to start of article]