Curtain raiser

2nd Session of the ICPD Preparatory Committee


The International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD)is being convened under the auspices of the United NationsEconomic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The process began in July,1991 when ECOSOC passed resolution 1989/91 that called for aninternational meeting on population. Pursuant to that resolution,the Council, in a later resolution 1991/93, decided to call themeeting the "International Conference on Population andDevelopment" and further defined the objectives and themes of theConference. A third resolution, 1992/37, accepted the offer ofthe Government of Egypt to host the Conference in Cairo on 5-13September 1994.


The Preparatory Committee had its first substantive session inNew York from 4-8 March 1991. At that meeting, it recommended theadoption of a draft resolution (later adopted by ECOSOC asresolution 1991/93) that further defined the objectives andthemes of the meeting, identified groups of priority issues andproposed convening six expert group meetings, regional populationconferences and two additional PrepComs to prepare for theConference.


The objectives set out in resolution 1991/93 are: (1) to reviewand appraise the progress made in reaching the goals andobjectives of the 1974 World Population Plan of Action; (2) toidentify ways to implement the recommendations of the Plan; (3)to increase awareness of population issues on the internationalagenda; (4) to consider the desired focus of action on populationissues; (5) to adopt a set of recommendations for the nextdecade; and (6) to mobilize the necessary resources.

The six groups of priority issues identified in the ECOSOCresolution as requiring the greatest attention are: populationgrowth and demographic structure; population policies andprogrammes; population, environment and development linkages;population distribution and migration; population and women; andfamily planning, health and family well-being. These issues werethe topics of six expert group meetings which were convened in1992 and 1993 in order to provide input and an adequatescientific basis for the formulations of recommendations to betabled at the Conference.


The expert group meetings were organized by the PopulationDivision of the Department of Economic and Social Development ofthe United Nations Secretariat in consultation with UNFPA. Eachexpert group included 15 experts, representatives of relevant UNbodies and selected intergovernmental and non-governmentalorganizations. The first expert group meeting on population,environment and development was held in New York from 20-24January 1992. The second, on population policies and programmes,was hosted by the Government of Egypt in Cairo from 12-16 April1992. The third, on population and women, was hosted by theGovernment of Botswana, in Gaborone from 22-26 June 1992. Thefourth, on family planning, health and family well-being, hostedby the Government of India, took place in Bangalore from 26-29October 1992. The fifth, on population growth and demographicstructure, hosted by the Government of France, took place inParis from 16-20 November 1992. The sixth, on populationdistribution and migration, hosted by the Government of Bolivia,took place in Santa Cruz from 18-23 January 1993. A report ofeach of the expert group meetings can be found in documentsE/CONF.84/PC/4, PC/5, PC/6, PC/7, PC/8, and PC/9. These meetingsare also summarized in document E/CONF.84/PC/12, "Synthesis ofExpert Group Meetings".

Certain themes and issues were common to most of the Expert GroupMeetings and were discussed from widely different perspectives.The commonalities included: the importance of linkages betweenpopulation, sustained economic growth and sustainabledevelopment; the importance of past experience; relevance of thehuman rights dimension and the status of women; the importance ofthe family as a cornerstone of society; importance ofaccessibility of health services to promote social equality andaccelerate development efforts; the special needs ofsub-populations; AIDS; the role of governments and NGOs; researchand data collection; and international cooperation.


Pursuant to ECOSOC resolution 1991/93, the UN regionalcommissions were invited to convene meetings or conferences toreview the experience gained in population policies andprogrammes and plans for future action in their regions.

The first regional conference, the Fourth Asian and PacificPopulation Conference was held in Denpasar, Indonesia from 19-27August 1992. Its theme was Population and SustainableDevelopment: Goals and Strategies into the 21st century. Thethird African Population Conference was held in Dakar, Senegalfrom 7-12 December 1992. Its theme was Population, Family andSustainable Development. The European Population Conference washeld in Geneva from 23-26 March 1993. The principal themes were:international migration, fertility and the family, health andmortality, consequences of population growth and age structureand international cooperation in the field of population.

The Arab Population Conference was held in Amman, Jordan from 4-8April 1993. Issues addressed included: population, developmentand environment linkages; population growth and demographicstructure; population distribution and international migration;international migration, population and women; family planningand well-being. The Latin America and Caribbean Population andDevelopment Conference was held in Mexico City from 29 April - 4May 1993. Issues addressed included population growth, structureand distribution in the region; socio-economic trends andimplications; population dynamics and development in theCaribbean subregion; population policies and programmes;population growth and distribution; women and populationdynamics; and family planning, health and well-being.

Some of the common issues that emerged throughout the regionalmeetings included: the imperative that couples and individualsmust have the right to determine family size; the central placeof women in all aspects of population and sustainabledevelopment; the interrelationship of population, the environmentand economic activity; the need for enhanced internationalcooperation; and the positive role of NGOs and community groupsin the implementation of population programmes and activities.


Three trust funds have been established for the ICPD. The UNGeneral Trust Fund for the ICPD preparatory activities hasreceived a total of US$1,179.173. Contributions have beenreceived from Denmark (US$108,210), France (US$33,963), India(US$37,000), the Netherlands (US$250,000), Sweden (US$250,000 andthe United States (US$500,000). The second fund, the VoluntaryFund for Supporting Developing Countries' Participation in theICPD, has received a total of US$101,585. Contributions have beenmade by Finland (US$96,585) and Spain (US$5,000). Pledges havebeen made by Sweden (US$250,000), France (US$90,909) and Austria(US$25,000). The third fund is the UNFPA Trust Fund for the ICPDfor national-level activities. This fund has received a total ofUS$875,516, including contributions from Belgium (US$89,525),Canada (US$396,825), Finland (US$235,320), and Norway(US$153,846) and a pledge from Sweden (US$250,000). Both Canadaand Finland have also provided officers to work in the ICPDSecretariat.


The overriding objective of the second session of the ICPDPreparatory Committee (PrepCom) is to reach agreement on the formand substance of the final documents to be adopted at theSeptember 1994 Conference in Cairo. The ICPD is expected to havebefore it two major documents: (1) a review and appraisal of theWorld Population Plan of Action and (2) a new plan of action thatwill address the key objectives of the Conference, givingparticular consideration to the ways and means of treatingpopulation issues in their proper development perspective. Thisnew plan of action should encompass population, sustainedeconomic growth and sustainable development.

The decisions taken at this PrepCom will provide guidance to theICPD Secretariat as it prepares a draft of the final document forconsideration 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 onthe following: (1) a conceptual framework for the document; (2)what type of document will be produced; and (3) what aspects ofthe issues will be covered by this document and to what depth orlevel of detail. The ICPD Secretariat has proposed a conceptualframework and an outline for the new plan of action on population(E/CONF.84/PC/11). The Secretariat recommends that the documentcontain two major parts: "Essential principles for population anddevelopment" and "Choices and responsibilities." Under thelatter, the Secretariat outlines 13 chapters encompassing suchissues as integrating population concerns into development, therole and status of women, reproductive rights, internationalmigration and population distribution. A number of governmentsand NGOS have already indicated their dissatisfaction with boththe scope and structure of the Secretariat's proposal and areexpected to make interventions on this point later this week. Oneof the concerns raised so far is the reference in the document to"accelerated economic growth" as opposed to "sustained economicgrowth."

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

In addition to procedural issues, there are a number ofsubstantive matters that may lead to some heated discussions inthe Plenary and informal sessions, among delegates and NGOsalike. These include the role of international financialinstitutions such as the World Bank and the IMF; internationalmigration and the question of restrictive immigration policies;abortion and reproductive rights; family planning, especiallycoercive practices; global population stabilization targets;integration of population and economic development; integrationof population and environmental concerns; funding for populationactivities; the empowerment of women; and the relationshipbetween consumption patterns and population. The issue ofconsumption is perhaps the most critical and indeed, contentiousissue. Discussions will focus on the need to build on theconsensus language in the consumption chapter in Agenda 21 and toreach agreement regarding the need to address unsustainablelifestyles.


THE OPENING SESSION: The second session of the PreparatoryCommittee will have its first meeting this morning at 10:00 Conference Room 2. The meeting will be called to order by Dr.Nafis Sadik, UNFPA's executive director. She will move directlyto the first item on the provisional agenda, the election of theofficers of the Preparatory Committee. Following the selection ofthe PrepCom Chair, who will preside over the remainder of themeeting, the Committee will select the rest of the 11-personBureau to consist of the Chair, nine Vice-Chairs (two from eachof the five regional groups) and an ex-officio member from thehost country, Egypt. The Committee will then adopt the agenda forthe session. An annotated provisional agenda for the session isavailable (E/CONF.84/PC/3/Rev.1) as well as a note from theSecretariat (E/CONF.84/PC/L.1) that proposes a schedule for theorganization of work for the coming two weeks.

Jean-Claude Milleron, Under-Secretary General for Economic andSocial Information and Policy Analysis will give the first ofthree keynote speeches. He will be followed by Dr. Sadik andJoseph Chamie, Acting Secretary-General of the Conference andOfficer-in-Charge of the UN Population Division. These threespeeches should set the tone for the substantive discussions tofollow.

The next item on the provisional agenda will be the accreditationof NGOs. Three documents will be presented to the PrepCom forapproval (E/CONF.84/PC/10 and two addenda, Add.1 and Add.2).These documents list the NGOs which have requested accreditation.It is not expected that there will be any debate on this agendaitem.

The PrepCom will then begin what is scheduled to be a four-daydebate on Item 4, "Preparations for the Conference". Whilesubsequent meetings will deal with the progress report on thepreparation for the Conference (E/1993/49), the recommendationsof the Expert Group Meetings (E/CONF.84/PC/4-9), the synthesis ofthese meetings (E/CONF.84/PC/12) and reports from the regionalpopulation conferences, the remainder of today will be taken upwith opening remarks from governments, agencies and possibly someNGOs.

GOVERNMENT SPEECHES: Many have expressed particularinterest in the expected US intervention, specifically forindications of change in US policy on population funding and therelationship between population and consumption patterns. Duringthe UNCED process, the US delegation was firmly opposed to anyreference to unsustainable Northern lifestyles.

With Colombia as the head of the Group of 77, its speech willconvey the general position of the G-77 on population anddevelopment questions. Likewise, Denmark, in its role aspresident of the European Community, will speak on behalf of the12 member states of the EC. Western European countries areexpected to take a firm stand on immigration policies. Whereasthe CANZ Group (Canada, Australia and New Zealand) will mostlikely take a more liberal position on this issue since they areamong the few countries that have open immigration policies.Watch for statements by some of the Eastern European countries onthe role of women.

NGO ACTIVITIES: NGO registration will take placethroughout PrepCom II in the lobby at the UN Visitor's Entrance.

The Women's Caucus will meet both today and tomorrow inConference Room 6 at 9:00 am., where copies of the Women'sResponse to the Proposed Conceptual Framework will be available.

The NGO Planning Committee for ICPD has scheduled regional groupmeetings throughout the day in the Church Center. Moreinformation about these and other NGO activities is available atthe ICPD NGO Center on the second floor of the Church Center, 777UN Plaza, across from the UN.

Several outstanding issues of particular importance to NGOs haveyet to be resolved by both the Secretariat and the PreparatoryCommittee, including: (1) meeting rooms within the UN for NGOactivities; (2) interpretive services for NGO meetings; (3)adequate copies of the official documents for accredited NGOs;and (4) access to the floor of Conference Room 2 and to informalmeetings later in the week.


National governments
Negotiating blocs
Canada, Australia, New Zealand
Group of 77 and China
Non-state coalitions