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The ICPD process represents one of the most important shifts in the international political arena. For many years, population policy focussed on the control of numbers, often through coercive methods, and without relevance to the specific reproductive health needs of women. In the wake of UNCED and the Vienna Human Rights Conference, the international community has come to recognize that population must be placed in an overall development context that places women's rights in a pivotal position.

Except for the Holy See and a handful of countries, including Argentina, Guatemala, Malta, Venezuela, Ecuador, Honduras and Nicaragua, delegates to PrepCom III were in virtual agreement that the most effective way to stabilize population growth is to address the issue in a broader "quality of care" context. This includes: expanded quality of reproductive health care services; better education for women and girls; economic, social and political empowerment for women; respect for the fundamental rights of men and women to decide for themselves the size and spacing of their children; and increased male participation in all aspects of reproductive and sexual health.