Now that the Conference is over, the challenge before Governments, international organizations, the UN system and NGOs is to ensure that the Programme of Action is translated from words to action. Some of the specific challenges include: national implementation; UN system implementation; changes in bilateral and multilateral aid flows for population programmes; NGO follow-up and ensuring that the gains made in Cairo are not lost in Copenhagen or Beijing.
NATIONAL IMPLEMENTATION: Governments now have to take the Programme of Action home and implement it. This will take a great deal of political will, particularly since Governments will have to determine what is relevant for their country and how to proceed with "sensitive" issues. While it may lead to uneven levels of implementation, this procedure will ensure that all States have the means to implement the Programme of Action. With such a sensitive issue, it also allows for developing States to participate in international cooperation programmes and yet to see their national sovereignty respected.
Some Governments or regions have already planned follow-up activities. For example, the Ministers of Southern African States will have a conference on population and development in Cape Town, South Africa, next year to implement the Programme of Action in their region. There is always a risk that some Governments will ignore their implementation duties or fail to respect some of the rights that were highlighted in the Programme of Action, but at least they now have a set of norms according to which they can be scaled, and successes and failures will be more identifiable. As a result, the incentive to succeed -- or at least to try to -- will be that much greater.
UN SYSTEM IMPLEMENTATION: The first step for the UN system's implementation of the Programme of Action will be at the 49th session of the UN General Assembly. Chapter XVI calls on the General Assembly to organize a regular review of the implementation of the Programme of Action. Furthermore, the General Assembly is called on to promote an integrated approach in providing system-wide coordination and guidance in the monitoring of the implementation of the Programme of Action as well as giving consideration to the establishment of a separate Executive Board for UNFPA. ECOSOC has been asked to consider the specific roles of the relevant UN organs dealing with population and development. It is also likely that some countries will request the General Assembly to pass a resolution establishing an International Conference on Migration and Development to be held in 1997. Implementation of the Programme of Action at the international level depends largely on these and other activities. Therefore, it will be important for the 49th General Assembly to "keep the ball rolling" so that the UN System can begin to make the necessary adaptations in its policies and programmes.
BILATERAL AND MULTILATERAL FUNDING: One of the outcomes to the Cairo Conference should be a change in the flow of funds from multilateral and bilateral institutions to comprehensive reproductive health programmes rather than limited family planning programmes. It is still unclear whether in practice the implementation will be as all-encompassing as the Programme of Action calls for. If, for example, financial resources are too limited, priority may well be given to family planning, to the detriment of other aspects of reproductive health. Many NGOs have already begun to lobby the World Bank and other financial supporters of family planning and population-related activities to change their funding priorities. On another front, UNICEF and UNDP will continue to build support for the 20/20 Initiative within the context of the preparations for the World Summit for Social Development. A number of countries already are looking favorably at this initiative, although others still have serious questions and are waiting for more substantive details.
NGO FOLLOW-UP: The role of NGOs in implementation is key both in developed and developing countries. The success of the Programme of Action will depend on how it is implemented. It is up to grassroots and international NGOs to keep the pressure on Governments to implement the recommendations in the document. In many cases, the grassroots NGOs are the ones dealing with problems as they occur and who will be able to monitor both the efforts that are carried out and the effects that these efforts have on those concerned. In this respect, the role of NGOs will be that of watchdogs who can call attention to the blatant failures or violations of the Governments' commitments. International NGOs will also need to lobby multilateral and bilateral funders to ensure that their policies reflect the recommendations in the Programme of Action and actually serve to meet the needs of their intended beneficiaries. NGOs will also be active on the UN front, to ensure that the Programme of Action stays alive and forces change in the relevant UN organs.
TOWARDS COPENHAGEN AND BEIJING: With the success of the Cairo Conference behind them, it is now up to Governments, the UN system, international and non-governmental organizations and the media to ensure that progress is made and ground is not lost at the forthcoming World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen and the fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. It may well be that some countries will feel, in retrospect, that too many concessions were made, particularly in terms of empowerment of women. This will be relevant at two levels in the upcoming Conferences. On the one hand, new, weaker language cannot be permitted, but on the other, not confirming this "success" in other fora will mean that this was just a stroke of luck and that the mentalities and genuine willingness of Governments have not been changed. Finally, without active participation of people at all levels -- local, national, regional and international -- the Programme of Action will not be worth more than the paper it is written on.
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