Summary report, 4–22 April 1994

3rd Session of the ICPD Preparatory Committee

The third session of the Preparatory Committee for theInternational Conference on Population and Development was held atUN Headquarters in New York from 4-22 April 1994. Delegates spentthree weeks of intense negotiations on the draft Programme ofAction to be adopted at the Conference, which will be held in Cairofrom 5-13 September 1994. Although delegates were able to agree onmost of the Programme of Action, some fundamental issues remainunresolved: definitions of "reproductive and sexual health,""reproductive rights," and "safe abortion;" reproductive healthservices for adolescents; and resource allocation for populationand development policies.


The International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD)was created by United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)Resolution 1989/91 in 1989. The Secretary-General of the Conferenceis Dr. Nafis Sadik, the Executive Director of the United NationsPopulation Fund (UNFPA).


The Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) held its first substantivesession in New York from 4-8 March 1991. This session defined theobjectives and themes of the Conference, and proposed conveningexpert group meetings, regional population conferences and twoadditional sessions of the PrepCom. The PrepCom identified sixclusters of priority issues: population, environment anddevelopment; population policies and programmes; population andwomen; family planning, health and family well-being; populationgrowth and demographic structure; and population distribution andmigration. These clusters were addressed by a series of expertgroup meetings organized by the Population Division of theDepartment of Economic and Social Information and Policy Analysisof the United Nations Secretariat, in consultation with UNFPA.Another source of input 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 conceptualframework for the final document. There was support for adoption ofa new, free-standing document to 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 development; the empowerment of women;population ageing; health and mortality; population distribution,urbanization and internal migration; international migration;reproductive health and family planning; and partnership betweengovernments, 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, building uponthe work of PrepCom II, was the focus of many statements during theSecond Committee debate. During the discussion, delegates raised anumber 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).


PrepCom Chair Fred Sai (Ghana) opened the third session on 4 April1994. He pointed out the impact that ICPD has already had on theworld and the need for further harmonization of differentviewpoints in order to come up with an action programme. He alsowelcomed the NGOs, whose accreditation was facilitated by earlysubmission of their applications, and suggested that, where earlyapplications have not been submitted, NGOs may seek informationfrom the ICPD Secretariat. During the course of the session, thetotal number of NGOs accredited to the process reached 934.

In her opening statement, Dr. Nafis Sadik, Secretary-General of theConference, pointed to the unprecedented number of countriesinterested in the interrelated issues of population andenvironmental sustainability. She emphasized the urgency to movefrom generalities to specifics in order to translate therecommendations into action. She also stressed the need to reach abalance between the rights and obligations of individuals and thoseof nations. She said that although 124 countries have alreadysubmitted their national reports, the remaining reports are neededto complete the final analysis document. She stated that mostnations agree on the linkages between population, environmentalsustainability and development, as well as on the centrality ofindividuals, especially women, to the planning and implementationof population policies. She invited delegates to focus onaction-oriented proposals that are clear, while allowing for thediversity of national priorities, culture, and religion. She alsocalled for an appropriate title for the final document.

The PrepCom then spent two and a half days in a general debate onAgenda Items 4, 5 and 6 -- preparations for the Conference; reviewand appraisal of progress made towards the implementation of theWorld Population Plan of Action; and national reports of countrieson their population situation, policies and programmes. During thecourse of the debate, 64 representatives of governments andregional groups, 32 NGOs and 7 UN Agencies and intergovernmentalorganizations delivered statements.


Beginning on Wednesday, 6 April 1994 and continuing throughWednesday, 20 April 1994, the focus of attention shifted to the twoworking groups who were responsible for negotiating the chapters inthe draft Programme of Action. Working Group I, under thechairmanship of Lionel Hurst (Antigua and Barbuda), addressed thefollowing chapters: III. Interrelationships between Population,Sustained Economic Growth and Sustainable Development; XI.Population and Development Information, Education andCommunication; XII. Technology, Research and Development; XIII.National Action; XIV. International Cooperation; XV. Partnershipwith the Non-Governmental Sector; and XVI. Follow-up to theConference. Working Group II, under the chairmanship of NicolaasBiegman (the Netherlands), addressed the following chapters: IV.Gender Equality, Equity and Empowerment of Women; V. The Family,its Roles, Rights, Composition and Structure; VI. Population Growthand Structure; VII. Reproductive Rights, Sexual and ReproductiveHealth and Family Planning; VIII. Health, Morbidity and Mortality;IX. Population Distribution, Urbanization and Internal Migration;and X. International Migration. The preamble and principles(Chapters I and II) were discussed by a Committee of the Whole,under the chairmanship of PrepCom Chair Fred Sai.

During the first week of the PrepCom, delegates proposed amendmentsto the Secretariat's draft final document of the Conference(A/CONF.171/PC/5). During the second and third weeks, the WorkingGroup Chairs produced revised versions of each chapter for theconsideration of delegations. During the last three days of thePrepCom, delegates considered each chapter one final time inPlenary. Although the Chair had hoped to remove as many as theremaining brackets as possible, some of the more divisive issuescould not be resolved. Thus, the PrepCom adopted the final draftProgramme of Action and sent the text, brackets and all, to theConference in Cairo.

To facilitate understanding of the current status of the Programmeof Action, the following report is presented on achapter-by-chapter basis.


PrepCom II had mandated the Secretariat to prepare a preamble thatwould both serve as a chapeau to the substantive chapters andreflect other related international conferences and instruments.During a brief discussion of the preamble by the Committee of theWhole, PrepCom Chair Fred Sai expressed concern that someamendments eliminated references to important themes in theoriginal preamble. Sweden, supported by Norway and New Zealand,proposed that the preamble be drafted as an executive summary.Australia suggested that the preamble should be incorporated as theCairo Declaration. Delegates were asked to submit their comments tothe Secretariat.

During the last week, the Secretariat circulated a revised versionof the 21-paragraph preamble. The preamble references a number oftopics, including: the socio-economic and political challengesfacing the international community; population growth; thedemographic future; the relationship between the ICPD and otherConferences; changes in attitudes towards family planning; levelsof morbidity and mortality; death rates and maternal mortality;life expectancy; education levels; role and status of women;internal and international migration; population ageing; and adiscussion of quantitative and qualitative goals for population anddevelopment policies.

When it was time to consider the preamble on the last day, Algeria,on behalf of the Group of 77 (G-77) and China, proposed thatfurther formal discussion be deferred until Cairo. Informalconsultations on the preamble are expected to continue up until theCairo Conference.


When the Committee of the Whole considered the principles onTuesday, 19 April, Dr. Sai reported that he had held consultationsaimed at streamlining this chapter. The G-77 called for a principleto address the rights of migrants. Australia, New Zealand andBolivia suggested stronger reference to the specific problems ofindigenous people. Australia also requested stronger language onthe participation of women. India insisted that the text take intoaccount sustained economic growth. Morocco supported India andcalled for reference to the problem of international migration.Nepal requested reference to safe motherhood wherever reproductivehealth and family planning is mentioned. Canada and the US saidthat where principles are derived from other instruments, theyshould be quoted exactly.

Sweden suggested four possible bases for action: relevant UNconferences; other documents on the status of women and children;other basic UN instruments, such as the UN Declaration on HumanRights; and a short chapter summarizing the basis for the ICPD'swork. Yemen regretted the lack of commitment from developedcountries to assist developing countries and called for principlesto address international support. Dr. Sai said that issues relatedto women's participation, socio-economic development, migrants andindigenous people will be reflected in the revised text.

Norway suggested adding inter-generational equity to Principle 5(reduce and eliminate unsustainable patterns of production andconsumption). The Russian Federation suggested adding reference tocountries with economies in transition to Principle 6 (eradicatingpoverty). Pakistan noted that Principle 7 (right to liberty andsecurity of person) should provide the basis for unbracketingreferences to reproductive health and family planning throughoutthe Programme of Action. On Principle 7, Norway added reference tothe basic right to decide freely and responsibly the number andspacing of children. Dr. Sai confirmed that Principles 8 (freedomof choice provided by sexual and reproductive health careprogrammes) and 10 (family as a basic unit of society) would beheld in abeyance pending the completion of negotiations.

The Chair circulated a revised text during the last week. Itcontains 15 principles primarily derived from other documents,including the Rio Declaration, the Universal Declaration of HumanRights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social andCultural Rights. When it was time to consider the principles on thelast day, Algeria, on behalf of the G-77 and China, proposed thatfurther formal discussion be deferred until Cairo. In the meantime,informal consultations on the principles will continue.


This chapter contains three sections: integrating population anddevelopment strategies; population, sustained economic growth andpoverty; and population and the environment. During the debate inWorking Group I, there was considerable disagreement regarding thereference to the importance of eliminating social and economicdiscrimination against women, who form the majority of the world'spoor. There was disagreement between the European Union (EU) andthe US and the G-77 regarding the reference to sustainedeconomic growth as essential to poverty eradication. There was alsoconflict between the G-77 and the Eastern Bloc countries regardingthe placement of developing countries and countries with economiesin transition on an equal footing. Finally, some delegates,specifically the G-77 and China, wanted to shorten the thirdsection so that it effectively referenced Agenda 21, rather thanelaborating a number of action items on population and theenvironment. The US commented that Agenda 21 did not adequatelyaddress population issues and there was a need to elaborate actionitems here. A compromise was reached where Agenda 21 was referencedand all other action items are to be consistent with Agenda 21.

Some of the issues remaining to be resolved in Cairo include:reference to the right to development and the guarantee of humanrights (3.13); all references to sexual and reproductive health andfamily planning (until these issues are adequately defined inChapter VII); reference to creating and sustaining democraticinstitutions, good governance and transparency (3.19); and theinternational community's responsibility to promote an enablingeconomic environment (3.20).


This chapter contains three sections: empowerment and the status ofwomen; the girl child; and male responsibilities and participation.During the discussion of this chapter in Working Group II,Switzerland and Sweden called for the deletion of target dates foruniversal education. Indonesia insisted that some forms ofdiscrimination are justifiable. Malaysia and most Muslimdelegations objected to equal inheritance rights for women. Therewas also a debate on the use of the terms "gender equity" and"gender equality." Canada preferred the use of equality, whereasNorway wanted to use both terms.

At the request of the EU, reference to the goal of universalprimary education for all by the year 2015 (4.15) remains inbrackets pending the discussion on goals. The only other bracketsin this chapter are around the terms "reproductive and sexualhealth," at the request of the Holy See, pending definition.


This chapter contains two sections: diversity of family structuresand composition; and socio-economic support to the family. Apotential problem with the definition of the "family" was easilyresolved since the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on theInternational Year of the Family in October 1993. Delegates agreedto use this definition in paragraph 1: "While various concepts ofthe family exist in different social, cultural and politicalsystems, the family constitutes basic units of social life and assuch are entitled to receive comprehensive protection and support."Vanuatu had called for reference to discrimination based on sexualorientation, but it was not acceptable to all delegations.

The only brackets remaining in this chapter are around"reproductive," until the definition of this term is resolved inChapter VII.


This chapter contains the following sections: fertility, mortalityand population growth rates; children and youth; elderly people;indigenous people[s]; and persons with disabilities. The lastsection, persons with disabilities, was not included in theoriginal text, but was added at the request of Sweden andMadagascar. Reference to the elderly originally used the term"ageing populations," however, New Zealand and Switzerland proposedusing the terms "elderly" or "older people" instead. During thediscussion, Honduras insisted that "access to reproductive health"by youth should not compromise parental rights' to information. ThePlenary reached agreement on compromise language, which is alsoused in Chapter VII, that reads: "with the support and guidance oftheir parents and in line with the Convention on the Rights of theChild."

There was also disagreement about the reference to "indigenouspeople." Australia requested the pluralized term, "peoples." Canadaand others argued that "people" is accepted UN language. TheSecretariat mentioned that there is a UN working group addressingthis issue and that they would consult with this group and transmitthe group's recommendations to the ICPD in Cairo. Thus, the "s"remains bracketed throughout the text.

In addition to the usual brackets around "reproductive health andfamily planning services" and "reproductive rights," the phrase"international migration" with regard to the disabled wasbracketed. The Philippines and Cameroon argued that limiting themovement of people with disabilities is discriminatory. Switzerlandargued that its laws require immigrants to work. The Chair pointedout that this issue is also addressed in Chapter X (InternationalMigration) and should be discussed there.


This chapter covered some of the most controversial issues to beaddressed by the ICPD and brought the Holy See and a handful ofother Catholic countries head-to-head with those countries whoadvocate or do not object to sexual and reproductive healthprogrammes, including family planning, that may include abortionand contraception. Although delegates attempted to reach agreementon definitions of these terms that would be acceptable to all, itwas not to be.

During the lengthy debate on this chapter, Bolivia, Mexico and Perucalled for the expansion of reproductive health to include sexualhealth. The definition of reproductive health was vehementlyopposed by the Holy See and others who objected to the phrase"fertility regulation." The EU and Bolivia called for the right toconfidentiality, but Nicaragua objected, stressing thatadolescents' right to confidentiality jeopardizes parental rightsto information about their children. The Holy See and a few othersdisagreed with the rest of the Working Group regarding thereference to "individuals and couples." They preferred "men andwomen," since it could not be implied to include adolescents.Likewise, Honduras and Morocco objected to reference to providingreproductive health care to individuals "of all ages," since thiswould include adolescents.

There was also disagreement on the provision of the "full range" offamily planning services. Malaysia preferred the "widest possiblerange" since some countries may be unable to provide the "fullrange." Governments could not agree on the enumerated list ofbarriers to informed choice. Malta and others made continualcharges of cultural imperialism and insisted that they would neversubmit to international pressure on family planning and relatedmatters. While the US and the Philippines wanted reference tohigh-quality condoms, the Holy See insisted on brackets aroundcondoms, advocating voluntary abstinence as the only reliablemethod of combatting AIDS and other STDs.

When this chapter was considered by the Plenary on the final day ofthe PrepCom, it appeared as though precious time would be wasted asdelegates restated their well-known positions. Costa Rica,Argentina, Malta, Venezuela, Morocco and Ecuador arguedpassionately that they would not agree to any term that was notdefined in such a way that it could not be interpreted as toinclude abortion. Dr. Sai noted that 173 countries have abortionpermitted in some form or another, usually to safeguard the healthof the mother, and, thus, the majority of mankind has acceptedabortion. Delegates agreed to hold further consultations on thedefinitions of these controversial terms and until then, thechapter remains heavily bracketed. Phrases or terms in bracketsinclude: "fertility regulation;" "reproductive and sexual health;"reference to confidentiality of family planning services; theprinciple of voluntary choice in family planning; reference to"abortion" in 7.18 bis and 7.37; sexual education "at anearly age;" and all of paragraph 7.38, which refers to removingbarriers to sexual and reproductive health information and care foradolescents. The Holy See agreed to remove the brackets from"contraceptives" and "couples and individuals," but expressed itsreservations for the record.


This chapter contains the following sections: primary health careand the health-care sector; child survival and health; women'shealth and safe motherhood; and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)infection and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). Duringthe discussion of this chapter in Working Group II, the Holy Seeobjected to any reference to contraception, insisting instead thatsingle individuals should practice abstinence. There wasdisagreement regarding the inclusion of life expectancy targets.There was also disagreement regarding the term "unwanted" pregnancywith the Holy See insisting that it devalued the fetus. The HolySee called for deletion to the reference to family planning. C“ted'Ivoire insisted that high-risk sexual behavior is not the domainof men. The Holy See and others called into question thereliability of the condom and questioned the reference to condomsas the only method of AIDS protection. These same countries arguedthat "safe motherhood" could be construed as including safeabortion, and insisted on bracketing the term.

During the final discussion of the chapter in Plenary, delegatesretained the brackets around statements of goals for lifeexpectancy, reduction of infant and child mortality, and reductionof maternal mortality. Further informal consultations will be heldto address the issues of goals throughout the text. Honduras,supported by Malta, insisted on bracketing reference to "safemotherhood" programmes, since these may include abortion. Dr. Sadiksaid that safe motherhood is to protect the health of mothers andif we cannot protect the health of women, we might as well give up.India and Nepal made passionate pleas for the removal of thebrackets. The Holy See called for written assurance in the documentthat safe motherhood programmes do not include abortion. Bracketsalso remain around "unsafe abortion" and "reproductive healthservices."


This chapter contains three parts: population distribution andsustainable development; population growth in large urbanagglomerations; and internally displaced persons. The US wanted toinclude environmental degradation as one of the push factors asthey relate to migration flows. India, Malaysia and the Philippinesdisagreed. Other issues include: ethnic cleansing, mechanisms forcompensation to and the rights of internally displaced people, andthe need for population distribution policies to be consistent withother international instruments.

During the final plenary session, delegates accepted new languageon the issue of consistency with other international instruments inparagraph 9.7 bis: "Population distribution policies shouldbe consistent with such international instruments as, whenapplicable, the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protectionof Civilian Persons in Time of War (1949), including Article 49."All other brackets were removed, with the exception of 9.18(solutions to the problem of internally displaced persons). Indiaemphasized that international measures to find solutions toquestions relating to internally displaced persons may jeopardizenational sovereignty. The US, supported by Croatia, Turkey, theHoly See, Guatemala, Pakistan, Egypt, the EU and Switzerland,disagreed. It was agreed to bracket reference to national andinternational measures instead of the entire paragraph.


This chapter contains four sections: international migration anddevelopment; documented migrants; undocumented migrants; andrefugees, asylum seekers and displaced persons. During thediscussion in Working Group II, Cuba objected to reference to thecreation of market- oriented economies in all countries in theparagraph on measures to keep people in their home countries. TheEU opposed reference to the equitable sharing of responsibilitiesin the context of ensuring international protection of refugees.

There was disagreement on the right of family reunification, sinceit was not clear what constituted "the family." Cameroon, Guineaand Niger disagreed with the concept of refugee resettlement atborders close to their home. Brazil proposed compromise languagethat would take the issue of safety into consideration, whilegiving preference to resettlement close to their homelands.

After the Plenary's consideration, brackets remained around respectfor the "[human] rights of [individuals belonging to] minorities,indigenous people[s] and [political opponents]." The G-77, China,the Holy See, Hungary and Canada wanted "human" and "individuals"deleted. The US and the EU supported their retention. Uganda,Hungary and Canada wanted "political opponents" retained. The USand Mali disagreed. Brackets also remain around the right of familyreunification. The US was concerned that there was no definition ofthe family and family reunification could, in effect, includecousins and in-laws. Turkey ardently supported retaining "right."Paragraph 10.23 on rights of refugees and displaced persons arisingfrom forced migration, was resolved at the last moment with theword "repatriation" replacing reference to their homes andproperties.


This chapter does not contain any sub-sections. During thediscussion in Working Group I, Sweden proposed encouraging genderand racial sensitivity. India thought there was no need to mentionthe latter. The US, supported by Sweden, Norway, Burundi andMalaysia, proposed a new objective to enhance the ability ofcouples and individuals to make informed reproductive choices. TheHoly See bracketed the need to reference "couples and individuals"and "reproductive choices." The EU disagreed with the Holy See,Honduras, Morocco and Guatemala regarding the need to referenceethical values. There was also a protracted discussion on the roleof soap operas as a means of encouraging public discussion ofimportant but sometimes sensitive topics relating to theimplementation of this Programme of Action. Some delegates did notthink "soap operas" was a serious term, but the Secretariat saidthat this term is now commonly used in the relevant literature. TheHoly See and the EU also disagreed on the reference to the rights,responsibilities and values of parents.

Brackets remain around all references to "sexual and reproductivehealth" and "family planning." Although 11.7 (role of leaders inmobilizing public opinion) was not bracketed, the US questioned thephrase "specialists of recognized morality." Brazil and Colombiaimplored Honduras, who had proposed this phrase, to reconsider it.The phrase was changed to "qualified specialists."


This chapter contains three sections: basic data collection,analysis and dissemination; [sexual and reproductive] healthresearch; and social and economic research. The section on sexualand reproductive health research caused the most difficulties. TheHoly See opposed reference to "modern methods of fertilityregulation" and "contraceptive methods," preferring, instead, "safeand responsible methods for the planning of family size." Indiarequested deletion of the need for research on the reproductive andsexual health needs of adolescents. Ghana argued that the realityof adolescent sex must be addressed. Argentina, Peru and Hondurascalled for research on abortion and the related risks. Hondurasalso proposed research on contraceptive and IUD-related deaths.

In 12.7 (basis for action), the Holy See expressed reservations onthe term "contraceptives," and retained brackets around "fertilityregulation," until it is defined in Chapter VII. Delegates acceptedthe EU's proposal to delete the brackets around "barrier methods."In 12.9 (government support for research), brackets were removedfrom the reference to barrier methods against diseases. In 12.11(involvement of the private sector), the term "fertility regulationcommodities" was changed to "contraceptive commodities," with theHoly See's reservation. In 12.15(c) (objectives), the Holy Seeagreed to unbracket "sexual and reproductive behavior."


This chapter contains three sections: national policies and plansof action; programme management and human resource development; andresource mobilization and allocation. The latter proved to be themost contentious section. During the first reading, governmentsquestioned and challenged the Secretariat on the methodology usedto derive the cost figures in this section. The Secretariatconducted an informal briefing on this and then rewrote the sectionbased on comments received. During the second reading, the EUbracketed the entire section until it had time to discuss therevised figures. The new version of the section reflected theconcept of "core national population programmes" with threecomponents: family planning services; basic reproductive healthservices; and STD/HIV/AIDS prevention programmes. A new sub-sectionon basic research, data and population and development policyanalysis was added at the request of delegates. In general,delegates expressed concern about the focus on family planning tothe exclusion of other population-related programmes. Manydeveloping countries expressed their difficulties in meetingtwo-thirds of the costs related to population programmes. Guatemalaand Honduras opposed reference to condom distribution for AIDSprevention.

The only brackets that remain in the first two sections are aroundthe usual phrases "family planning" and "sexual and reproductivehealth." There are numerous brackets around the two phrasesmentioned above as well as "condom distribution," "couples andindividuals," "with due respect for parental rights andresponsibilities," and all the estimates of financial resourceneeds.


This chapter contains two sections: responsibilities of partners indevelopment; and towards a new commitment to funding population anddevelopment. There was disagreement between developed anddeveloping countries on the responsibility of developed countriesto adopt favorable macro-economic policies to promote sustainedeconomic growth and development in developing countries. India,supported by China, proposed this language during the discussion inWorking Group I. The EU, Canada and Australia said that thisConference cannot solve all development programmes. The US,supported by Sweden, Australia and the EU, added a new objective onhuman rights standards. However, India said that unless its newobjective was accepted, it could not accept the US proposal.Tuvalu, Estonia and Honduras wanted to delete reference to localproduction of contraceptives. There was heated discussion regardingthe level of resources needed by the year 2000. As well, there wasdisagreement on the issue of increasing ODA from 2% to 4% forpopulation programmes as well as the 20-20 proposal -- donoragencies and recipient Governments devoting at least 20% of ODAfunds to the social sectors along with 20% of domestic expenditure.

Brackets remain around the objectives on favorable macroeconomicpolicies and human rights standards. In numerous paragraphs thereference to countries with economies in transition remainsbracketed. Delegates suggested different alternative methods fordealing with this problem, including a separate paragraph on theneeds of these countries, making the phrasing more general so thatthese countries are included (i.e., deleting reference todeveloping countries) or removing all references to thesecountries. All proposals were rejected. The proposal to increaseODA from 2% to 4%, all figures on resource flows from donorcountries, and a new paragraph proposed by Tunisia on innovativefinancing for population and development programmes remain insquare brackets.


This chapter contains two sections -- local, national andinternational non-governmental organizations; and the privatesector -- although some delegates originally did not think thatthese two groups should be separated. Several countries, includingBrazil and Benin, felt that the relationship between governmentsand the non- governmental sector should be a "working relationship"rather than a "partnership," which implies equal sharing ofresponsibilities. Brazil also emphasized that the design,implementation and evaluation of population activities fall withinthe sovereign jurisdiction of each country. Brazil, Venezuela,Indonesia and Iran also called for deletion of the reference to theofficial status of NGOs in national and international developmentprocesses. Morocco and Liberia objected to the politicalindependence of NGOs.

During the Plenary's consideration of this chapter, the Holy Seeonce again called for brackets around "sexual and reproductivehealth" throughout the text. Reference to "contraceptives" wasretained, with the reservations of the Holy See, Guatemala andHonduras. Benin once again raised the issue of partnership withNGOs and proposed replacing "partnership" with "cooperation."Working Group I Chair Lionel Hurst reminded delegates that theWorking Group had agreed to retain "partnership" and the Chairnoted that Chapter 27 of Agenda 21 refers to NGOs as partners andurged Benin to reconsider. After a tedious debate, both"partnership" and "cooperation" were bracketed.


This chapter originally contained only two sections: national-levelactivity and activity at the international level. During the firstreading, however, delegates raised general concerns about thecontent and organization of the chapter. Other issues raised duringthis reading were the importance of government accountability, theneed for consistency with national policies, difficulties inpreparing annual reports, and coordination of follow-up activitieswithin the UN system. Delegates agreed to hold informalconsultations on this chapter aimed at arriving at a consensustext. An informal group met under the chairmanship of Canada fornearly two weeks. The resulting text contained only two sets ofbrackets and a new section on subregional and regional activities.

The text submitted to the Plenary on the last day states that theEconomic and Social Council will assist the General Assembly inpromoting an integrated approach and system- wide coordination andguidance in the monitoring of the implementation of the Programmeof Action. The General Assembly at its forty-ninth session is alsoinvited to give further consideration to the establishment of aseparate Executive Board of the UN Population Fund.

The first set of brackets were around two alternatives forimplementation, monitoring and evaluation of the Programme ofAction. The first option mentions "qualitative and quantitativeindicators consistent with human rights and ethical principlesrecognized by the international community." The second option notesthat implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the Programme ofAction requires appropriate indicators. The G-77 supported thefirst option, while the EU preferred the second. A compromiseproposed by Canada, "implementation, monitoring and evaluation ofthe programme of action at all levels should be conducted in amanner consistent with its principles and objectives;" and theother two options remain bracketed. In paragraph 16.18 (new andadditional financial resources), language referring to the burdenon the "already difficult economic situation of developingcountries" was deleted. Language on the need for additionalresources "including on concessional and grant terms, according tosound and equitable indicators" was retained.


The PrepCom completed its adoption of the 16 chapters of theProgramme of Action on its last day, Friday, 22 April 1994. ThePrepCom then had three procedural matters to address. The first wasthe adoption of the provisional rules of procedure for the CairoConference, as contained in document A/CONF.171/PC/8. The Chaircommented that this document was not open for amendments at thistime, but would be discussed in more detail by the General Assemblybetween now and Cairo. There was no objection and the provisionalrules of procedure were adopted. The next item was the adoption ofthe provisional agenda for the Cairo Conference, as contained indocument A/CONF.171/ PC/L.2. Egypt proposed adding a new item tothe agenda, Other Matters. With that amendment, the provisionalagenda was adopted. The final issue to be addressed by theCommittee was the adoption of its report, as contained in aninformal document, which will be completed by the rapporteurfollowing the PrepCom.

The Chair, Dr. Fred Sai, closed the third meeting of the PrepCom bythanking delegates on behalf of himself, Ghana and Africa, forelecting him as the Chair. He said it had been a tremendouspressure and pleasure to serve. He thanked everyone, including theNGOs, for their active role and expressed hope that everyone willmeet in Cairo in September. ICPD Secretary-General Nafis Sadik saidthat she was pleased to see that the draft Programme of Actionstarts to recognize the centrality of the individual and recognizesthe need for gender equality and empowerment of women. She notedthat the Secretariat will do its best to assist Governments inresolving some of the definitional problems. She expresseddisappointment that "safe motherhood" is in brackets. Therepresentative from Egypt mentioned that the ICPD is the lastopportunity in this century to deal with the issues of populationand sustainable economic development. He welcomed everyone to Cairoin September. With this final statement, at approximately 11:15 pm,the third session of the Preparatory Committee for theInternational Conference on Population and Development was gavelledto a close.


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

Except for the Holy See and a handful of countries, includingArgentina, Guatemala, Malta, Venezuela, Ecuador, Honduras andNicaragua, delegates to PrepCom III were in virtual agreement thatthe most effective way to stabilize population growth is to addressthe issue in a broader "quality of care" context. This includes:expanded quality of reproductive health care services; bettereducation for women and girls; economic, social and politicalempowerment for women; respect for the fundamental rights of menand women to decide for themselves the size and spacing of theirchildren; and increased male participation in all aspects ofreproductive and sexual health.


PrepCom III made a number of concreteadvances during its three-week session. These include thefollowing:

  • A shift from family planning to reproductive health;
  • Population is placed in the overall development context;
  • The chapter on empowerment of women (Chapter IV) is much stronger than anyone had ever expected, in fact it is considerably stronger than any of the draft language for the Beijing Conference on Women;
  • The text contains reference to unsustainable patterns of production and consumption; and
  • The text recognizes indigenous peoples' special needs and rights.


Many observers lamented the role that theVatican played at this PrepCom in mobilizing as many sympatheticStates against: voluntary choice in family planning; sexual andreproductive health and rights; safe motherhood; access to safeabortion; the use of condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS; andsexual and reproductive health services for adolescents. TheVatican's position was unequivocal: opposition to every means offamily planning other than periodic abstinence. As a result oftheir high-profile lobbying and systematic opposition, the PrepComwas forced to focus a disproportionate amount of its attention tothese issues, much to the detriment of other equally importantissues, including stronger language on reproductive and sexualrights, international migration, consumption patterns,accountability and follow-up mechanisms. Indeed, some havecommented that the Programme of Action could have emerged astronger document still, had more time been devoted to these othersubstantive issues, instead of debating abortion issues.

Others felt outrage at the Vatican and its allies, includingGuatemala, Ecuador, Argentina, Malta and Honduras, who insisted onmounting religious and morally dogmatic arguments in the face ofundisputed facts: over 400,000 women each year die fromcomplications of unsafe abortion; and 800,000 cases of medicalcomplications from unsafe abortions annually occur in Latin Americaalone. Brazil noted that over 25% of pregnancies in Latin Americaend in abortion each year. Despite the fact that abortion isillegal in most Latin American countries, there is actuallyagreement at the regional level (Mexico Consensus) that unsafeabortions represent a serious public health issue. Notwithstanding,Vatican pressure at the PrepCom led some Latin American countriesto renege on this agreement.

At the end of the day, the clear and emerging consensus amongdelegates on the need for a reproductive and sexual health approachto issues of fertility and procreation was temporarily scuttled bythe Vatican and a handful of countries haggling over definitions ofthese terms and the validity of the World Health Organization'sdefinition. Thus, negotiations began to "grind down" around"condoms," the "individual," "family planning," and "fertilityregulation." Indeed, the Holy See forced the lowest commondenominator on these issues, in the face of the fact that well over170 delegations might have agreed with more progressiverecommendations.

As with every other post-UNCED negotiating process, the question offinancial resources stimulated protracted and difficult debate atPrepCom III. It is currently estimated that more than a two-foldincrease in family planning and population expenditures (includingexpanded packages of reproductive health, STD prevention and safermaternal care) are needed by the year 2000. More than three timesthat will be needed by 2015. Going beyond these goals to provideuniversal school enrollment and child survival strategies andprogrammes would potentially increase expenditures by US$75million.

The current approach is that developing countries should incurtwo-thirds of their national population costs, with the additionalone-third to come from other bilateral and multilateral channels.Instead of the international community increasing overallpopulation assistance, developing countries are being asked toprioritize national-level spending to accommodate costs that wouldotherwise be covered by greater assistance from the internationalcommunity.


NGO participation atPrepCom III was unprecedented at all levels. The sheer numbersalone were impressive. Over 1200 people from 500 different NGOs,most of whom were women, came from all regions of the world. Neverbefore had NGOs been so mobilized, so well-organized and soprepared for serious and systematic advocacy and lobbying. Theycame from as diverse backgrounds as the governments they came tolobby: feminist activists; family planning and women's healthservice providers; population control advocates; environmentalists;religious groups; and "right-to-life" organizations.

They met each day in regional caucuses; lobbying strategy sessions;issue-based task forces, and the Women's Caucus, which became suchan institution that it took over Conference Room 1 each morning toaccommodate the large number of participants. But unlike othernegotiating processes, the NGOs did not restrict their role tomeeting among themselves at the Church Center and planning theirown political agendas. NGOs, especially the Women's Caucus, playedan extremely active role inside the UN. They were on officialgovernment delegations. They enjoyed unprecedented access to closeddrafting sessions; monitored the negotiation of each chapter;advised "friendly" delegations and the Secretariat; lobbiedpotentially "unfriendly" delegations; and, generally, ensured thatnot a single paragraph of the Programme of Action escaped theirvigilant scrutiny.

Some specific examples of NGO influence at PrepCom III include:

  • The chapter on NGOs (Chapter XV) was almost completely free of brackets by the time it was transmitted to the Plenary. It is a strong chapter on partnership, with specific mention of concrete roles for women's groups;
  • Most of the brackets were removed in the chapter on gender equality and empowerment of women (Chapter IV), the strength of which reflects persistent NGO pressure;
  • The chapter on the family (Chapter V) recognized diverse family forms in the final text that went to the Plenary, in accordance with the UN General Assembly Resolution on the Year of the Family. NGOs worked hard, in the face of strong opposition by the Holy See and other conservative delegations, to ensure that the concept of the family represented in its plurality of forms remained in the text. The Women's Caucus also succeeded in inclusion of a reference to discrimination based on sexual orientation. Although the reference to sexual orientation was later on removed, the new language refers to elimination of "all forms of discrimination," a much broader concept.
  • The inclusion of the reference to "sexual" in the context of "reproductive health" also originated from the Women's Caucus. Indeed, all the definitions on reproductive health were introduced by the Women's Caucus. The concept of reproductive health care represents an important breakthrough. It will be the key to ensuring a more integrated range of services for women, including much- needed early detection and prevention of STDs and AIDS.
  • NGOs were also instrumental in raising the issue of accountability of funders, international agencies and governments in the reproductive health care and family planning domains; and
  • The Draft Programme of Action contains considerably stronger language against coercive practices.


In spite of the progress made inelaboration of the Programme of Action, a number of key issues mustbe resolved in Cairo. Delegates must still:

  • reach agreement on the difficult definitions: family planning; reproductive and sexual health and rights; and safe motherhood;
  • address the reproductive and sexual health needs of adolescents;
  • deal with preamble and principles (Chapters I and II); and
  • agree on the resource requirements;

The success of the Cairo Conference depends largely on the contentand comprehensiveness of the Programme of Action. If the Vaticanand its allies continue to hold the Conference hostage to views onreproductive health and family planning that may adhere to one setof beliefs, which are not in themselves challenged, but which, manyfeel, do not reflect today's realities, negotiations in Cairo willsacrifice more valuable time that could be used to strengthen otherprovisions and improve the overall Programme of Action.


In the coming months before theCairo Conference, look for interested delegates to hold informalconsultations on a number of outstanding issues in the ICPDProgramme of Action. These include: goals; resource requirements;the definition of some of the more controversial terms, includingreproductive health, reproductive rights and family planning; andthe first two chapters: preamble and principles, in particularthose that may prove controversial.


In the coming months before theCairo Conference, look for interested delegates to hold informalconsultations on a number of outstanding issues in the ICPDProgramme of Action. These include: goals; resource requirements;the definition of some of the more controversial terms, includingreproductive health, reproductive rights and family planning; andthe first two chapters: preamble and principles, in particularthose that may prove controversial.


The General Assembly will discuss andadopt the provisional rules of procedure for the Cairo Conferenceduring the intersessional period. The draft provisional rules ofprocedure are contained in document A/CONF.171/PC/8. Look for anannouncement of the date for this meeting.


The organizations taking part in the Women'sCaucus will continue their advocacy work during the intersessionalperiod. The Caucus will work to disseminate information to women'sand NGO networks around the world about the results of PrepCom III-- both the progress made and the text still in brackets. The mainagenda is to build support for the ideas and proposals advanced inthe Cairo document. Members of the Women's Caucus will launchcampaigns in their countries, including national meetings, mediaand public awareness, and meetings with government representatives.Members of the Caucus will also lobby governments to include womenand NGOs on their delegations in Cairo. For more information aboutthe activities of the Women's Caucus, contact the Women'sEnvironment and Development Organization, 845 Third Avenue, 15thFloor, New York, NY 10022 USA; tel: +1-212-759-7982; fax:+1-212/759-8647; e-mail:


The NGO Planning Committee iscurrently taking registration applications for Cairo. All NGOs areencouraged to preregister. In addition, if NGOs would like to rentbooth space they are encouraged to complete the required forms andsend in the fee as soon as possible. Requests for workshops, panelsand symposiums must be received no later than 1 May 1994 to beincluded in the Cairo programme. The next NGO newsletter will bepublished in late May and an update on the facilities and programmein Cairo will be published in July. Forms and additionalinformation are available from the NGO Planning Committee at 777 UNPlaza, New York, NY 10017 USA; tel: +1-212-545-7344; fax:+1-212-545-7581.


Media representatives interested incovering the Cairo Conference should complete applications forpress accreditation, together with a letter of assignment onofficial letterhead from the Editor or Bureau Chief and mail to:Media Accreditation and Liaison, ICPD, Department of PublicInformation, United Nations, Room S-250, New York, NY 10017 USA.The deadline is 8 August 1994.


At its final session, the PrepComadopted the draft provisional agenda for the Cairo Conference. Itincludes the following: 1. Opening of the Conference; 2. Electionof the President; 3. Adoption of the Rules of Procedure; 4.Adoption of the Agenda; 5. Election of officers other than thePresident; 6. Organization of work, including the establishment ofthe Main Committee of the Conference; 7. Credentials ofrepresentatives to the Conference; 8. Experiences in population anddevelopment strategies and programmes; 9. Programme of Action ofthe Conference; 10. Other matters; and 11. Adoption of the reportof the Conference. The Conference shall be composed of a plenaryand one main committee. Agenda items 1-8 and 10 will be allocatedto the plenary and Item 9 (the Programme of Action) will beallocated to the Main Committee. Negotiations on the draftProgramme of Action will be carried out in the Main Committee whilethe general debate is taking place in plenary meetings.

It is expected that the general debate on item 8 (experiences inpopulation and development strategies and programmes) to be held inplenary, will start on Monday, 5 September, and conclude by Friday,9 September. The list of speakers for the general debate will beopened at UN Headquarters at 10:00 am on 3 August 1994 and willclose at noon on Wednesday, 7 September, in Cairo. There will be nogeneral debate in the Main Committee, which will start its work at3:00 pm on Monday, 5 September, and conclude by Friday, 9September. Look for more detailed information about the Conferenceitself to be distributed over the summer.


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