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OPENING PLENARY

ICPD Secretary-General Nafis Sadik opened the Conference Monday morning at 9:30 am. The Conference then adopted: the rules of procedure; the agenda; the organization of work, including establishment of the Main Committee; participation of intergovernmental organizations in the work of ICPD; appointment of members of the Credentials Committee and adoption of Report of Credentials Committee; and consideration of the chapters of the draft Programme of Action.

UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali welcomed delegates to Cairo and noted that the ICPD is a turning point for the relationship between population and development in addressing many important issues, including poverty, the role of women, environment and development. He highlighted three principles for the ICPD: demands made in a world whose population is growing rapidly; tolerance regarding the ethical and religious issues relating to population measures that must be displayed on a mutual basis; and conscience that would allow us the right to carry out our lives, but with full respect for other rights, particularly for women.

His Excellency, Mohamed Hosni Mubarak, President of Egypt, was then elected President of the Conference. Mubarak hoped that the ICPD will be a bridge between North, South, East and West and outlined the goals to be realized in the ICPD, including free dialogue ruled by a spirit of solidarity and shared responsibility, and a balanced satisfaction of spiritual and material needs. He noted that the relationship between population and development must be translated into an integrated vision that would pay more attention to education, health services and the role of women, in conformity with religious and ethical values.

ICPD Secretary-General Nafis Sadik welcomed delegates and highlighted the involvement of many countries, IGOs, NGOs and the media. She called on delegates to work on the action-oriented draft Programme of Action to address the empowerment of women, education, health and family planning services.

Prime Minster Gro Harlem Brundtland (Norway) asked participants to turn away from the media dramatization of the Conference and to focus on the issues of education and health, particularly for women. She sought a pledge to change policies that would promote women's needs and ensure social development and stated that the benefits of successful population policies result in savings in public expenditures. She highlighted the importance of the ICPD in addressing the spread of STDs and also stated that she did not understand how the term "reproductive health" could be read as supporting abortion.

Vice President Albert Gore (US), noted that the rapid and unsustainable growth of population is a grave problem, especially in the lives of women and girls. The education and empowerment of women, literacy and the availability of contraceptives must occur in a holistic manner. He pointed out that the US did not seek to establish an international right to abortion, since policy making should be within the purview of each Government.

Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto (Pakistan) stated that as a woman, a mother, a wife and the leader of the largest democratically-elected Muslim government and the ninth most populous country, she saw the ICPD as a historic opportunity. She expressed her dream of a world where every pregnancy is planned and every child loved and a commitment to the development of human life and not its destruction. She noted that the Programme of Action should not be viewed as a universal charter seeking to impose adultery and abortion. It should take into account different cultural, religious and ethical values, but at the same time leaders should not let a narrow-minded minority dictate the agenda. She rejected abortion as a method of family planning and emphasized the role of the traditional family. It is not ideology, but lack of infrastructure that is crucial in tackling population matters.

Prime Minister Mbilini (Swaziland) noted the importance of the ICPD for African countries, given high rates of population growth, infant and maternal mortality, the spread of HIV/AIDS, and economic difficulties. He stated that at the recent OAU Summit in Tunisia, African countries reaffirmed the need to address population policies with a particular emphasis on the role of women.

Before adjourning the meeting, it was announced that the nominations for Vice Chairs from the Asian Group are: Bangladesh, China, Japan, Marshall Islands and Pakistan. Vice Chairs from the Eastern European Group are: Hungary, Romania, and The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

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