Curtain raiser

3rd Session of the ICPD Preparatory Committee


The International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD)was created by United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)resolution 1989/91 in 1989. The Government of Egypt will host theConference in Cairo on 5-13 September 1994. The Secretary-Generalof the Conference is Dr. Nafis Sadik, the Executive Director of theUnited Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).


The Preparatory Committee had its first substantive session in NewYork from 4-8 March 1991. This session defined the objectives andthemes of the Conference, and proposed convening expert groupmeetings, regional population conferences and two additionalsessions of the PrepCom. The PrepCom identified six clusters ofpriority issues: population, environment and development;population policies and programmes; population and women; familyplanning, health and family well-being; population growth anddemographic structure; and population distribution and migration.These clusters were addressed by a series of expert group meetingsorganized by the Population Division of the Department of Economicand Social Information and Policy Analysis of the United NationsSecretariat, in consultation with UNFPA. Another source of input tothe Conference preparations was a series of regional populationconferences that were held in Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin Americaand the Caribbean, and the Middle East.


The second session of the Preparatory Committee was held in NewYork from 10-21 May 1993. The overriding objective was to reachagreement on the form and substance of the final document to beadopted in Cairo. Delegates agreed on a set of population anddevelopment issues to be discussed and elaborated a draft structurefor the final document. There was support for adoption of a new,free-standing document, which will include action-orientedrecommendations to effectively address population and developmentchallenges into the next decade. Delegates also reached consensuson the inclusion of a number of issues in this document, includingthe relationship between population, environment, sustainedeconomic growth and economic development; the empowerment of women;population aging; health and mortality; population distribution,urbanization and internal migration; international migration; andthe partnership between governments, NGOs and the private sector.


The ICPD was considered by the 48th session of the UN GeneralAssembly on 4-5 November 1993. The annotated outline was the focusof many statements during the Second Committee debate. During thediscussion, delegates raised a number of key points, including:

  • the centrality of population issues must be maintained in the Cairo document;
  • the recommendations should be action-oriented, clear and concise;
  • the rights of the individual must be central to the document;
  • the chapter on the empowerment of women must be strengthened;
  • the document should give more attention to sexuality and the family planning needs of youth and adolescents;
  • the Secretariat should provide information on the costs of various proposals;
  • means of implementation should be given a high priority;
  • the chapter on follow-up to the Conference is inadequate;
  • the issues of consumption and lifestyles should be given more attention;
  • the perspective and needs of countries in transition should be reflected;
  • the section on indigenous peoples needs strengthening; and
  • the role of NGOs should be spelled out more carefully.

The General Assembly also agreed that: the ICPD PreparatoryCommittee become a subsidiary body of the General Assembly (achange from its status as a subsidiary body of ECOSOC); the ICPDSecretary-General should prepare by February 1994 the first draftof the final substantive document of the Conference; PrepCom IIIwould be extended by one week (4-22 April 1994); and two days ofpre-Conference consultations will be convened in Cairo (3-4September 1994).


At PrepCom II, governments raised the need for further dialogue onsome of the most critical issues to be discussed at the 1994Conference. As a result, the ICPD Secretary- General convened aseries of five roundtable discussions, in cooperation withGovernments that hosted the meetings.

WOMEN'S PERSPECTIVES ON FAMILY PLANNING, REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH ANDREPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS: The first roundtable took place in Ottawa,Canada from 26-27 August 1993, and focused on four areas ofconcern: women, human rights and reproductive rights; contraceptiveresearch and development; family planning service delivery; and menand family planning. Recommendations included: increasing attentionon the neglected tragedy of maternal mortality in developingcountries; recognition and removal of the barriers to women'sability to exercise their rights; allocation of resources anddevelopment of programmes to improve the sexual and reproductivehealth of disadvantaged women; increased support for research onimproving existing and developing new contraceptive technology; andrecognition that unsafe abortion is a major public health concern.

POPULATION POLICIES, PROGRAMMES AND HIV/AIDS: The secondroundtable took place in Berlin, Germany, from 28 September - 1October 1993. The purpose of the meeting was to examine the short-and medium-term demographic impact of the AIDS epidemic and toexplore the implication of AIDS on population and developmentpolicies and on maternal and child health and family planningprogrammes. Participants concluded that: AIDS will not have asignificant impact on population growth; in some African cities,however, rates of natural population increase may be reduced,although this may be offset by migration; a more urgent issue isthe negative impact on social and economic development caused bygrowing rates of premature death among the most productive segmentsof the population; and within some countries' health systems,resources needed for disease prevention are being diverted to treatAIDS-related diseases.

POPULATION AND DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIES: This roundtable,which was held in Bangkok from 17-19 November 1993, examined theconsequences for population policy formulation of the new planning"paradigm," the implications of structural adjustment policies forhuman resources, policy research challenges, divergent experiencesfrom countries and regions, and future directions for populationand sustainable development. Governments were urged to recognizethe growing need for strategic thinking about population anddevelopment, particularly in the context of the increasing emphasison private, market-based initiatives for productive growth. Therewas agreement that policies and programmes need to be moreparticipatory, involve local communities and ensure the empowermentof women. Participants also agreed that planning and policy makingshould be decentralized.

POPULATION, ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN THEPOST-UNCED PERIOD: This roundtable was convened in Geneva from24-26 November 1993, and focused on five ecosystems whereenvironmental degradation and natural resource depletion is seriousand where poverty and population pressures appear to besignificant: deforestation in Central America; desertification insub-Saharan Africa; coastal and marine degradation in the Bay ofBengal; forested uplands of Indonesia, the Philippines andThailand; and small island States in the South Pacific. Theparticipants agreed on 17 recommendations covering theinterrelationship between population and the environment; the needto modify consumption patterns and lifestyles; poverty reduction;and strategies to address the needs of urban populations.

POPULATION AND COMMUNICATION: This roundtable, which washeld from 2-3 December 1993 in Vienna, Austria, focused on severalmain areas of concern: an assessment of current demographic trendsand the factors influencing them; developments in populationcommunication; and case studies on the potential of the media forpopulation issues, including traditional and non-commercial media,TV soaps, songs, interactive radio, drama and film. The roundtablealso discussed strategies to strengthen population communicationsand explored the role of broadcast policies and internationalcooperation, the challenge of resource mobilization, questions ofmarketing and community involvement, and the need for strategicplanning and coordination in the fields of information, educationand communication.


PLENARY: The third session of the ICPD PreparatoryCommittee, which begins today and continues for three weeks atUnited Nations Headquarters in New York, will be opened by theChair of the Preparatory Committee, Dr. Fred Sai (Ghana), thismorning. Following the Chair's opening remarks, Dr. Nafis Sadik,Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund andSecretary-General of the Conference, will introduce thedocumentation for this session. Under-Secretary-General forEconomic and Social Information and Policy Analysis, Jean-ClaudeMilleron, is expected to speak, followed by Under-Secretary-Generalfor Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development, Nitin Desai.

The Chair will then turn to Agenda Item 1, adoption of the agendaand programme of work. It is expected that the Plenary will meettoday and Tuesday (with a possible evening session on Tuesday) tohear general statements. Look for the establishment of two workinggroups that may begin meeting as early as Tuesday. If there is noagreement today on the clustering of chapters for consideration bythe working groups, look for the Chair to assign one of theVice-Chairs to find consensus on this matter. The Chair will likelyannounce that the working groups will meet throughout the nextthree weeks with the objective of bringing unbracketed text back tothe Plenary by the conclusion of this session.

The next item of the agenda will be the accreditation of NGOs. Twodocuments have been prepared by the Secretariat that recommend theaccreditation of approximately 230 additional NGOs to the PrepComprocess. The Chair is likely to announce that there will beadditional lists of NGOs to be accredited at this session.

Sadik will then introduce the draft final document of theConference (A/CONF.171/PC/5) and the Chair will open the floor forgeneral debate. Algeria, on behalf of the G-77, is expected to openthe discussion, followed by Greece, on behalf of the European Union(EU). Other speakers include Dr. Maher Mahran, the EgyptianMinister of State for Population and Family Welfare, Australia andJapan. Speakers for the afternoon session may include theInternational Planned Parenthood Federation, Antigua and Barbuda,Ecuador, Trinidad and Tobago, UNESCO, the NGO Planning Committee,Population Council, Population Action International, Women'sEnvironment and Development Organization (WEDO), International FoodPolicy Research Institute, Japanese Federation of Parliamentarianson Population and Development, Center for Reproductive Law andPolicy, Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population andDevelopment, Ecology Taskforce, International Confederation of FreeTrade Unions, and Afghanistan.

Speakers will be reminded that interventions at this stage in thenegotiating process should focus on substantive contributions tothe draft final document. Governments have been asked to limittheir interventions to ten minutes and NGOs will be allowed tospeak for five minutes each.

CANADIAN PROPOSAL ON FOLLOW-UP TO CAIRO: Look for therelease of a Canadian proposal on ICPD follow-up within the UnitedNations system. Some preliminary ideas on this subject were tabledat the last informal intersessional meeting on the draft document,which was held at the end of March. This document is likely tosuggest mechanisms for coordination among the 23 United Nationssystem units, bodies and organizations involved in populationactivities.


National governments
Negotiating blocs
European Union
Group of 77 and China
Non-state coalitions