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The overriding objective of the second session of the ICPD Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) is to reach agreement on the form and substance of the final documents to be adopted at the September 1994 Conference in Cairo. The ICPD is expected to have before it two major documents: (1) a review and appraisal of the World Population Plan of Action and (2) a new plan of action that will address the key objectives of the Conference, giving particular consideration to the ways and means of treating population issues in their proper development perspective. This new plan of action should encompass population, sustained economic growth and sustainable development.

The decisions taken at this PrepCom will provide guidance to the ICPD Secretariat as it prepares a draft of the final document for consideration and negotiation at the third and final PrepCom, which will be held in April 1994.

During the next two weeks, the government delegates must agree on the following: (1) a conceptual framework for the document; (2) what type of document will be produced; and (3) what aspects of the issues will be covered by this document and to what depth or level of detail. The ICPD Secretariat has proposed a conceptual framework and an outline for the new plan of action on population (E/CONF.84/PC/11). The Secretariat recommends that the document contain two major parts: "Essential principles for population and development" and "Choices and responsibilities." Under the latter, the Secretariat outlines 13 chapters encompassing such issues as integrating population concerns into development, the role and status of women, reproductive rights, international migration and population distribution. A number of governments and NGOS have already indicated their dissatisfaction with both the scope and structure of the Secretariat's proposal and are expected to make interventions on this point later this week. One of the concerns raised so far is the reference in the document to "accelerated economic growth" as opposed to "sustained economic growth."

To accomplish these objectives during the next two weeks, it is expected that the PrepCom Bureau will decide to conduct informal consultations, in addition to meetings of the Plenary. These informal consultations, which will probably be led by members of the Bureau, will likely begin later this week. Delegates have insisted that no more than two meetings be held at the same time. At this point it is not clear whether or not these informal consultations will be open to NGOs and other observers. It is during these informal consultations where the major debates on the issues will take place. The tentative agreements reached during these consultations will then be forwarded to the Plenary where they will be adopted at the conclusion of the PrepCom.

In addition to procedural issues, there are a number of substantive matters that may lead to some heated discussions in the Plenary and informal sessions, among delegates and NGOs alike. These include the role of international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF; international migration and the question of restrictive immigration policies; abortion and reproductive rights; family planning, especially coercive practices; global population stabilization targets; integration of population and economic development; integration of population and environmental concerns; funding for population activities; the empowerment of women; and the relationship between consumption patterns and population. The issue of consumption is perhaps the most critical and indeed, contentious issue. Discussions will focus on the need to build on the consensus language in the consumption chapter in Agenda 21 and to reach agreement regarding the need to address unsustainable lifestyles.

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