Summary report, 5–13 September 1994


In a city known for both its history and its burgeoningpopulation, the International Conference on Population andDevelopment (ICPD) met in Cairo, Egypt, from 5-13 September 1994.An estimated 20,000 government delegates, UN representatives,NGOs and media representatives descended on Cairo for the nine-day Conference and the parallel NGO Forum. Although the issue ofabortion proved to receive most of the media attention,Conference participants also addressed a number of important, andoften controversial, issues including immigration policy,reproductive health and reproductive rights, the empowerment ofwomen, urbanization and access to healthcare.

During the course of the Conference, delegates negotiated asixteen-chapter Programme of Action that sets out a series ofrecommended actions on population and development, includingthose that lead to sustained economic growth within the contextof sustainable development, protection of the integrity of thefamily, combatting HIV/AIDS, protecting the health ofadolescents, and closing the gender gap in education. Thenegotiations were not easy and there were times when it appearedas though consensus would be impossible on such controversialissues as abortion, sexual and reproductive health, familyreunification and the definition of the family. Yet, by the timethe last chapter was adopted and the last speech was given,thousands of weary delegates, observers and NGOs agreed that inspite of some difficult moments, the Conference was a success andthe Programme of Action, compared with earlier documents onpopulation and development, represents a "quantum leap."


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 ofthe Conference is Dr. Nafis Sadik, the Executive Director of theUnited Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).


The Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) for the Conference held itsfirst substantive session in New York from 4-8 March 1991. Thissession defined the objectives and themes of the Conference, andproposed convening expert group meetings, regional populationconferences and two additional sessions of the PrepCom. ThePrepCom identified six clusters of priority issues: population,environment and development; population policies and programmes;population and women; family planning, health and family well-being; population growth and demographic structure; andpopulation distribution and migration. These clusters wereaddressed by a series of expert group meetings organized by thePopulation Division of the Department of Economic and SocialInformation and Policy Analysis of the UN Secretariat, inconsultation with UNFPA. Another source of input was a series ofregional population conferences held in Asia, Africa, Europe,Latin America and 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 issues to bediscussed and elaborated a conceptual framework for the finaldocument. There was support for adoption of a new, free-standingdocument to include action-oriented recommendations toeffectively address population and development challenges intothe next decade. Delegates also reached consensus on theinclusion of a number of issues in this document, including therelationship between population, environment, sustained economicgrowth and development; the empowerment of women; populationageing; health and mortality; population distribution,urbanization and internal migration; international migration;reproductive health and family planning; and partnership betweenGovernments and NGOs.


The ICPD was considered by the 48th session of the UN GeneralAssembly on 4-5 November 1993. An annotated outline, based on thework of PrepCom II, was the focus of many statements during theSecond Committee debate. During the discussion, delegates raiseda number of key points, including: the centrality of populationissues must be maintained in the Cairo document; therecommendations should be action-oriented, clear and concise; therights of the individual must be central to the document; thechapter on the empowerment of women must be strengthened; thedocument should give more attention to sexuality and the familyplanning needs of youth and adolescents; the Secretariat shouldprovide information on the costs of various proposals; means ofimplementation should be given a high priority; the chapter onfollow-up to the Conference is inadequate; the issues ofconsumption and lifestyles should be given more attention; theperspective and needs of countries in transition should bereflected; the section on indigenous people needs strengthening;and the role of NGOs should be spelled out more carefully.


The third session of the Preparatory Committee was held in NewYork from 4-22 April 1994. Delegates tried to reach agreement onas much of the draft final Programme of Action as possible.During the first week of the PrepCom, delegates proposedamendments to the Secretariat's draft text (A/CONF.171/PC/5). Twoworking groups, under the chairmanship of Nicolaas Biegman (TheNetherlands) and Lionel Hurst (Antigua and Barbuda) wereresponsible for negotiating the chapters in the draft Programmeof Action. During the second and third weeks, the Working GroupChairs 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 of 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.

PrepCom III made a number of concrete advances during its three-week session. These include: the focus shifted from familyplanning to overall reproductive health; population is placed inthe overall development context; the chapter on empowerment ofwomen (Chapter IV) is much stronger than anyone had everexpected, in fact it is considerably stronger than any of thedraft language for the upcoming Womens' Conference in Beijing ;it contains reference to unsustainable patterns of production andconsumption; and it recognizes the special needs and rights ofindigenous people.

Nevertheless, a number of key issues were left to be resolved inCairo: the definition of family planning, reproductive and sexualhealth and rights, and safe motherhood; the reproductive andsexual health needs of adolescents; the preamble and principles(Chapters I and II); and the resource requirements needed forimplementation.


Pre-Conference consultations were held on Saturday and Sunday,3-4 September 1994, to reach agreement on several procedural andorganizational matters. Mohamed Adel El Safty, Assistant Ministerof Foreign Affairs of Egypt, was elected as Chair of the Pre-Conference Consultations.

Delegates recommended to the Conference the adoption of theprovisional rules of procedure, as contained in documentA/CONF.171/2. With respect to the election of officers, therecommendations concerning the composition of the GeneralCommittee, and the distribution of the posts therein, wereendorsed. The proposal to recommend to the Conference theelection of His Excellency Mohamed Hosni Mubarak, President ofEgypt, for the post of President of the Conference was accepted.With respect to the election of the members of the Bureau, theChairs of the Asian Group and the Eastern European Groupindicated that negotiations were still ongoing and that the Vice-Chairs had not yet been designated. The Latin American Groupnominated Brazil, Mexico, Uruguay, Suriname and Venezuela. TheVice-Chairs designated by the Western European and Others Groupwere Malta, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Canada and Greece. TheAfrican Group nominated Zambia, Tunisia, Kenya, Ethiopia,Nigeria, Senegal and the Central African Republic. Negotiationswere still in progress regarding the designation of theRapporteur-General. There was no objection to the recommendationthat the agenda be adopted and the participants also agreed thatthe general debate should be extended in Plenary until theafternoon of Monday,12 September.

Delegates agreed that the following States would comprise theCredentials Committee of the Conference: Austria, the Bahamas,China, C=te d'Ivoire, Ecuador, Mauritius, the RussianFederation, Thailand and the US, and also recommended theaccreditation of the intergovernmental organizations listed inA/CONF.171/8. In addition, it was noted that the ICPD PrepCom hadaccredited over 900 NGOs at its three sessions, and theaccreditation of the NGOs listed in A/CONF.171/7 and Add.1 wasrecommended.

The delegates agreed that participants in the Main Committeewould designate three Vice-Chairs and a rapporteur and the Chairexpressed hope that agreement would be reached before the openingof the Conference so that their election could be carried out byacclamation. The Secretariat suggested a possible time-frame fordiscussion on the various chapters of the programme. Algeria, onbehalf of the G-77 and China, and Germany, on behalf on the EU,noted that delegations would have to be given the time andopportunity to hold further consultations. The Chair askeddelegates for their comments on the possibility of adopting afinal declaration. Austria said that this practice is neithercustomary nor infrequent and added that a more succinct versionof the Programme of Action could be useful. Argentina said thatthe developing countries wished to discuss this issue within thecontext of G-77 consultations and The Gambia asked if the ICPDSecretariat had prepared a draft declaration or if the Conferenceitself would have to do it. The Chair said that there was nodraft at this point and that it was still unclear who would draftit. The Pre-Conference Consultations adopted paragraph 20 ofdocument A/CONF.171/3, which recommends that friends of theRapporteur-General be designated by each regional group to helphim with the preparation of the final report. The Pre-Conferencerecommendations were forwarded to the Conference in documentA/CONF.171/L.2.

Regarding the election of the Chair of the Main Committee, Gabon,on behalf of the African Group, nominated Dr. Fred Sai (Ghana) asChair of the Main Committee. Algeria, on behalf of the G-77 andChina, also supported the nomination of Dr. Sai.

The Chair then asked for comments on the non-paper issued by theSecretariat on Saturday on the organization of work in the MainCommittee. Canada suggested a reorganization of the order inwhich the Main Committee will review the chapters of theProgramme of Action. After a further amendment suggested by theRussian Federation, the following schedule was recommended:

  • Monday: Chapters 1 and 2;
  • Tuesday: Chapters 8 and 7;
  • Wednesday: Chapters 9 and 10 (morning); Chapters 11, 13, 14 and 16 (afternoon);
  • Thursday: Chapters 3, 4, 5, 6, 12 and 15.


ICPD Secretary-General Nafis Sadik opened the Conference Monday,5 September 1994, at 9:30 am. The Conference then adopted: therules of procedure; the agenda; the organization of work,including establishment of the Main Committee; participation ofintergovernmental organizations in the work of ICPD; appointmentof members of the Credentials Committee and adoption of theReport of the Credentials Committee; and consideration of thechapters of the draft Programme of Action.

UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali welcomed delegates toCairo and noted that the ICPD is a turning point for therelationship between population and development in addressingmany important issues, including poverty, the role of women,environment and development. He highlighted three principles forthe ICPD: demands made in a world whose population is growingrapidly; tolerance regarding the ethical and religious issuesrelating to population measures that must be displayed on amutual basis; and conscience that would allow us the right tocarry out our lives, but with full respect for other rights,particularly those of women.

His Excellency Mohamed Hosni Mubarak, President of Egypt, wasthen elected President of the Conference. Mubarak hoped that theICPD would be a bridge between North, South, East and West andoutlined the goals to be realized in the ICPD, including freedialogue ruled by a spirit of solidarity and sharedresponsibility, and a balanced satisfaction of spiritual andmaterial needs. He noted that the relationship between populationand development must be translated into an integrated vision thatwould pay more attention to education, health services and therole of women, in conformity with religious and ethical values.

ICPD Secretary-General Nafis Sadik welcomed delegates andhighlighted the involvement of many countries, IGOs, NGOs and themedia. She called on delegates to work on the action-orienteddraft Programme of Action to address the issues of empowerment ofwomen, education, health and family planning services.

Prime Minster Gro Harlem Brundtland (Norway) asked participantsto turn away from the media dramatization of the Conference andto focus on the issues of education and health, particularly forwomen. She sought a pledge to change policies that would promotewomen's needs and ensure social development and she said that thebenefits of successful population policies result in savings inpublic expenditures. She highlighted the importance of the ICPDin addressing the spread of STDs and also stated that she did notunderstand how the term "reproductive health" could be construedas supporting abortion.

Vice President Albert Gore (US), noted that the rapid andunsustainable growth of population is a grave problem, especiallyin the lives of women and girls. The education and empowerment ofwomen, literacy and the availability of contraceptives must occurin a holistic manner. He pointed out that the US did not seek toestablish an international right to abortion, since policy makingshould be within the purview of each Government.

Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto (Pakistan) stated that as a woman,a mother, a wife and the leader of the largest democratically-elected Muslim Government and the ninth most populous country,she saw the ICPD as a historic opportunity. She expressed herdream of a world where every pregnancy is planned and every childloved and a commitment to the development of human life and notits destruction. She noted that the Programme of Action shouldnot be viewed as a universal charter seeking to impose adulteryand abortion. It should take into account different cultural,religious and ethical values, but at the same time participantsshould not let a narrow-minded minority dictate the agenda. Sherejected abortion as a method of family planning and emphasizedthe role of the traditional family. It is not ideology, but lackof infrastructure that is crucial in tackling population matters.

Prime Minister Mbilini (Swaziland) noted the importance of theICPD for African countries, given high rates of populationgrowth, infant and maternal mortality, the spread of HIV/AIDS andeconomic difficulties. He said that at the recent OAU Summit inTunisia, African countries reaffirmed the need to addresspopulation policies, with an emphasis on the role of women.

Before adjourning the meeting, it was announced that thenominations for Vice-Chairs from the Asian Group were:Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Japan, the Marshall Islands andPakistan. Vice-Chairs from the Eastern European Group were:Hungary, Romania and The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

During the five and a half days that followed, the general debatewas conducted in Plenary. Representatives from 183 countries andnumerous intergovernmental organizations, NGOs and the mediaheard over 230 speakers, including 155 UN member States andobservers, 24 UN agencies, programmes and funds, 15intergovernmental organizations and 37 non-governmentalorganizations.


Most of the substantive negotiations took place in the MainCommittee, which met continuously from Monday afternoon, 5September through Monday evening, 12 September 1994, under thechairmanship of Dr. Fred Sai (Ghana). The Vice-Chairs were: Amb.Lionel Hurst (Antigua and Barbuda); Amb. Nicolaas Biegman (TheNetherlands); Dr. Bal G. Baidya (Nepal) and Jerzy Holzer(Poland), who also served as the rapporteur. The Main Committee'stask was to finish what the PrepCom had begun and it focused itswork on achieving consensus on the draft Programme of Action, ascontained in document A/CONF.171/L.1. During the course of thelong week, the corridors and conference rooms were host tonumerous small informal-informal consultations on many of thecontentious paragraphs as delegates sought consensus.

Although it had been originally hoped that the Main Committeecould complete its work by Friday, 9 September 1994, difficultnegotiations on Chapters II (principles), VII (reproductiverights and reproductive health), VIII (abortion) and X (familyreunification) forced the negotiations to continue through theweekend. The Main Committee finally adopted the entire Programmeof Action and forwarded it to the Plenary at 7:00 pm on Monday,12 September.

The following is a chapter-by-chapter summary of the Programme ofAction, with particular emphasis on the text that was negotiatedin Cairo.


The Preamble had not been negotiated by the PreparatoryCommittee. During the last week of PrepCom III, the Secretariatcirculated a revised version of a 21-paragraph preamble. Thistext was the subject of informal consultations during theintersessional period. After an initial round of discussions onthe first day of the Main Committee, the Chair moved thediscussion to the "Friends of the Chair," who met several timesduring the week to examine this chapter. The Preamble nowcontains 15 paragraphs. Paragraphs referring to: changes inattitudes toward family planning; levels of infant morbidity andmortality, maternal mortality, and education; roles and status ofwomen; and population ageing have been deleted. The Preamblereferences a number of topics, including: the socio-economic andpolitical challenges facing the international community;population growth and the demographic future; the relationshipbetween the ICPD and other Conferences; the relationship betweenpopulation and sustained economic growth within the context ofsustainable development; internal and international migration;quantitative and qualitative goals for population anddevelopment; objectives of the Programme of Action; and a newglobal partnership.

In Paragraph 1.12, the objectives of the Programme of Action arediscussed: sustained economic growth in the context ofsustainable development; education, especially for girls; genderequity and equality; infant, child and maternal mortalityreduction; and provision of universal access to reproductivehealth services, including family planning and sexual health.

The changes in the Preamble include the addition of a footnote onthe source (World Population Prospects: 1994 Revision. UNPublication, forthcoming) for the world population estimate of5.6 billion. The recognition that the ICPD builds on theconsensus achieved in other international activities washighlighted by including references to: the World Conference toReview and Appraise the Achievements of the UN Decade for Women,held in Nairobi in 1985; the World Conference on Nutrition, inRome in 1992; and the Global Conference for the SustainableDevelopment of Small Island Developing States, held in Barbadosin 1994.

On the issue of mobilization of resources for the objectives andactions of the Programme of Action, reference is made to the"adequate mobilization of resources at the national andinternational level" and "new and additional resources to thedeveloping countries from all available funding mechanisms,including multilateral, bilateral and private sources." Financialresources will also be required for strengthening the capacity ofnational, regional, sub-regional and international institutions.

Finally, while the Programme of Action does not create any newinternational human rights, the Preamble affirms the applicationof universally recognized human rights standards to all aspectsof population programmes. The Preamble also notes that the"Programme of Action will require the establishment of commonground, with full respect for the various religious and ethicalvalues and cultural backgrounds."


This chapter was initially discussed in the first session of theMain Committee on Monday, 5 September 1994. Canada reported on aninformal meeting held on 13 July in New York where delegatesagreed that there should be fewer principles, which should bereordered and merged.

Algeria, on behalf of the G-77, introduced a new draft with a fewamendments. Germany, on behalf of the EU, said that more time wasneeded for group consultations. Mali expressed some reservationwith regard to Principle 5, which called for an end tounsustainable patterns of production and consumption, since somedeveloping countries might have problems meeting this goal. Iransuggested that in Principle 7 of the G-77 text, the reference to"individuals" be deleted. El Salvador suggested that the word"individuals" be replaced with "persons." Honduras proposed anamendment that would reiterate the universal right to life,liberty and security of the person.

On Principle 8, China suggested adding "without any form ofcoercion" and deleting the reference to some specific forms ofcoercion. Algeria responded that Principle 8 should not bediscussed, but considered in brackets until the issues it dealswith are addressed in the discussion of Chapters VII and VIII.The Philippines and Pakistan agreed that the phrase "sexual and"should be deleted in the reference to the right to health careservices. The Philippines, supported by Indonesia, said thatabortion should in no way be considered a method of familyplanning.

The Holy See said that this set of principles should also referto the duty that the international community has in matters ofhuman rights violations. El Salvador said that the rightsprovided in Principle 1 should be balanced with matching dutiesand that Principle 10 should make clear that the family is thebasic unit of society. Iran asked that the reference to various"forms of the family" be deleted in Principle 10. The USsuggested a series of amendments on the principal objective ofthe Programme of Action, gender equity and equality, migrants,indigenous communities and references to sustainable development.The Chair asked the US to submit these amendments in writing.

After this initial discussion in the Main Committee, the "Friendsof the Chair" became the primary negotiating forum on thischapter. These often protracted negotiations continued untilMonday, 12 September. The most contentious issue was the chapeau,which qualifies not only how the principles are to be interpretedbut also provides that the implementation of the whole Programmeof Action will be carried out at the national level and accordingto each State's laws, religious and ethical values. Part of thechapeau now reads:

"The implementation of the recommendations in the Programme ofAction is the sovereign right of each country, consistent withnational laws and development priorities, with full respect forthe various religious and ethical values and cultural backgroundsof its people, and in conformity with universally recognizedhuman rights."

Principle 1 states that all human beings are born free and equalin dignity and rights, including all the rights and freedoms ofthe Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and have the right tolife, liberty and security of person.

Principle 2 calls on all nations to ensure that all individualsare given the opportunity to make the most of their potential,since human beings are at the center of concerns for sustainabledevelopment, and they are the most valuable resource of anynation.

Principle 3 states that the right to development is a universaland inalienable right and an integral part of fundamental humanrights, and the human person is the central subject ofdevelopment.

Principle 4 calls for advanced gender equality and equity and theempowerment of women, and the elimination of all kinds ofviolence against women. The human rights of women and the girl-child are an inalienable, integral and indivisible part ofuniversal human rights.

Principle 5 says that population-related goals and policies areintegral parts of cultural, economic and social development, theprincipal aim of which is to improve the quality of life of allpeople.

Principle 6 identifies sustainable development as a means toensure human well being. States should reduce and eliminateunsustainable patterns of production and consumption and promoteappropriate policies in order to meet the needs of currentgenerations without compromising the ability of futuregenerations to meet their own needs.

Principle 7 calls on all States to cooperate in the essentialtask of eradicating poverty as an indispensable requirement forsustainable development.

Principle 8 says that everyone has the right to the enjoyment ofthe highest attainable standard of physical and mental health andthat States should take all appropriate measures to ensureuniversal access to health-care services, including those relatedto reproductive health care, family planning and sexual health.

Principle 9 states that the family is the basic unit of society,and as such, should be strengthened. In different cultural,political and social systems, various forms of the family exist.

Principle 10 says that everyone has the right to education, whichshall be directed to the full development of human resources, andhuman dignity and potential, with particular attention to womenand the girl-child.

Principle 11 calls on States and families to give the highestpriority to children. The child has the right to the highestattainable standards of health, and the right to education.

Principle 12 calls on countries receiving documented migrants toprovide proper treatment and adequate social welfare services forthem and their families, and to ensure their physical safety andsecurity, bearing in mind the special circumstances and needs ofcountries, and, in particular, those of developing countries.

Principle 13 states that everyone has the right to seek and enjoyin other countries asylum from persecution. States haveresponsibilities with respect to refugees, as set forth in theGeneva Convention on the Status of Refugees.

Principle 14 calls on States to consider the development andpopulation needs of indigenous people, to recognize and supporttheir identity, culture and interests, and enable them toparticipate fully in the economic, political and social life ofthe country, particularly where their health, education and well-being are affected.

Principle 15 requires that in the context of sustainabledevelopment and social progress, sustained economic growth bebroadly based, offering equal opportunities to all people. Allcountries should recognize their common but differentiatedresponsibilities and the developed countries acknowledge theresponsibility that they bear in the international pursuit ofsustainable development.


This chapter contains three sections: integrating population anddevelopment strategies; population, sustained economic growth andpoverty; and population and the environment. Delegates hadreached agreement on the majority of this chapter at PrepCom III.Only four paragraphs contained brackets (other than the bracketsaround "reproductive health, which occurred throughout thedocument, pending resolution in Chapter VII).

This chapter was addressed by an informal session of the MainCommittee on Friday, 9 September 1994. In paragraph 3.16, theG-77 suggested retaining the part of the paragraph that recallsthe right to development, but wanted to delete the reference toeliminating discrimination against women. The EU proposed theopposite. The US suggested a compromise amendment, which wasaccepted, whereby the right to development is retained as one ofthe human rights that should be guaranteed. Reference toeliminating discrimination against women was deleted, butparticular attention is given to the socio-economic improvementof poor women in developed and developing countries.

Paragraph 3.19 calls for special attention to underserved membersof society who should be provided with jobs, skill developmentand reproductive health services. The Holy See pointed out thatchildren are listed as one of the categories of the underserved,but they should not be provided with all these services. As acompromise, the words "as appropriate" were inserted after theword "children" in the footnote attached to this paragraph thatlists the categories of underserved populations.

In paragraph 3.21 (job creation), the G-77 wanted to delete thepart of the paragraph that calls for an end to corruption, goodgovernance, democratic institutions, and the reorientation ofbudget priorities toward social sectors and resource development.The EU wanted to retain the text. The US once more providedcompromise language by suggesting that the paragraph refer to"investment on an environmentally sound basis, greater investmentin human resources development and the development of democraticinstitutions and good governance."

Delegates also agreed to delete the brackets around paragraph3.22, which calls on the international community to continue topromote a supportive economic environment for developingcountries and countries with economies in transition in theirattempt to eradicate poverty and achieve sustained economicgrowth in the context of sustainable development.


This chapter contains three sections: empowerment and the statusof women; the girl child; and male responsibilities andparticipation. Egypt, supported by Jordan, Tunisia and otherswanted to amend paragraph 4.17 (value of the girl child) becausethe word "equitable" in the English text was different in theArabic translation and Egypt also sought to delete "inheritancerights." The EU agreed to delete the brackets in paragraph 4.18,which states the goal of universal primary education by 2015.

Egypt and Iran proposed changes to unbracketed text. Egypt wantedto drop "in particular by providing alternatives to earlymarriage" in paragraph 4.21 (marriage) and the words"alternatives to early marriage, such as" were later dropped.Iran wanted to delete the words "forced prostitution" inparagraph 4.9 (elimination of exploitation) and it was replacedby "exploitation through prostitution." During the discussion,the Chair pointed out that unbracketed text could not be reopenedand that the English version of the text would be the basis onwhich translation problems would be worked on. Several countries,including Zimbabwe and the British Virgin Islands supported theChair's clarification. Algeria and Iran said that at some pointit would be a choice whether to save the Conference or to savethe rules of procedure.


This chapter contains two sections: diversity of familystructures and composition; and socio-economic support to thefamily. A potential problem with the definition of the "family"in paragraph 5.1 at PrepCom III was solved when delegates agreedto use the language in the UN General Assembly resolution on theInternational Year of the Family: "While various concepts of thefamily exist in different social, cultural, legal and politicalsystems, the family is the basic unit of society and, as such, isentitled to receive comprehensive protection and support." Thisunbracketed text was reopened after Iran requested that "conceptsof the family" be replaced with "forms of the family." Likewise,Egypt, Pakistan and Morocco had difficulties with the referenceto "other unions" in paragraph 5.5 on the elimination of coercionand discrimination. In both cases the Chair had argued that thiswas unbracketed text and could not be reopened, but there wassuch disagreement that a small working group was convened and thefollowing two amendments were adopted: in the first sentence ofparagraph 5.1, the word "concepts" was replaced by the word"forms," and in the first sentence of paragraph 5.5, the words"related to marriage, other unions and the family" were deleted,so the sentence now reads: "Governments should take effectiveaction to eliminate all forms of coercion and discrimination inpolicies and practices."


This chapter contains the following sections: fertility,mortality and population growth rates; children and youth;elderly people; indigenous people; and persons with disabilities.In addition to "sexual and reproductive health care," the onlybrackets in this chapter were around indigenous people[s]. Thismatter was discussed primarily within the negotiations on theprinciples, where Australia eventually agreed to withdraw itsdemand that reference be made to "indigenous peoples," but saidthat this would need to be addressed by the UN. Several countriesalso tried to amend unbracketed text. Argentina, supported byBrazil, asked that the reference to "territories" be replacedwith "land" in paragraph 6.27 (indigenous people). Bolivia arguedthat these are two different concepts that should not beconfused. Brazil added that land ownership should not besubstituted for land tenure. Delegates finally agreed to replace"own and manage territories" with "have tenure and manage theirlands."


This chapter covers some of the most controversial issues to beaddressed by the ICPD and brought the Holy See and certainCatholic and Islamic States head-to-head with those who advocateor do not object to sexual and reproductive health programmes,including family planning, which may include abortion andcontraception. This chapter contains five sections: reproductiverights and reproductive health; family planning; sexuallytransmitted diseases and HIV prevention; human sexuality andgender relations; and adolescents.

This chapter was the subject of lengthy and often heateddiscussion both in the informal sessions of the Main Committeeand in a working group chaired by Hernando Clavijo (Colombia). OnWednesday, 7 September, delegates discussed the former paragraph7.1 (now 7.2), which gives the definition of reproductive rightsand reproductive health. The primary issue in this paragraph wasthe "right" of men and women to have access to methods of"fertility regulation." A number of delegations could not acceptthis because fertility regulation can be interpreted to includeabortion. When consulted, the WHO confirmed that according to itsworking definition, fertility regulation includes familyplanning, delayed childbearing, the use of contraception,treatment of infertility, interruption of unwanted pregnanciesand breastfeeding. The final compromise text reads: "Implicit inthis last condition is the right of men and women to be informedand to have access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptablemethods of family planning of their choice, as well as othermethods of their choice for the regulation of fertility which arenot against the law...."

During a lengthy debate on Saturday, 10 September, more than 70delegates commented on the former paragraph 7.2 (now 7.3) onsexual and reproductive rights. Issues in this paragraphincluded: ambiguities in the first sentence on the relationshipbetween sexual and reproductive rights and human rights; the useof the term "sexual rights;" and the right of "couples andindividuals" to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacingand timing of their children, as well as the right to makedecisions concerning reproduction free of discrimination,coercion and violence. Many Central American and Muslim delegatescalled for deletion of the reference to "individuals." Zimbabwepointed out that if the term "individuals" was deleted, it wouldremove the right of individuals to remain celibate and he did notthink the Holy See would be happy about that. Furthermore,individuals should have the right to reject sexual advancesbecause of AIDS, STDs or unwanted pregnancy. The Chair respondedthat the phrase "couples and individuals" has been acceptedlanguage since the 1974 Population Conference in Bucharest. Heagreed that the individual right is as much about saying "no" assaying "yes." The compromise text for this paragraph reads:"...reproductive rights embrace certain human rights that arealready recognized in national laws, international human rightsdocuments and other relevant United Nations consensus documents.These rights rest on the recognition of the basic right of allcouples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly thenumber, spacing and timing of their children and to have theinformation and means to do so, and the right to attain thehighest standard of sexual and reproductive health. It alsoincludes the right of all to make decisions concerningreproduction free of discrimination, coercion and violence...."

The compromise on this paragraph was reached only after agreementwas secured on two other issues. A new paragraph 7.1 was added:"This chapter is especially guided by the principles contained inChapter II, and in particular, the chapeau." The second agreementthat led to the overall compromise, was that reproductive healthcare was defined to include sexual health. This led to thedeletion of the term sexual health in many places in thischapter, as well as in the document as a whole.

Throughout the chapter, the term "fertility regulation" wasreplaced with "family planning" or "regulation of fertility." Informer paragraph 7.43 (now 7.45), the issue of adolescentsexuality led to considerable debate within the working group.Whereas the old paragraph ensured that sexual and reproductivehealth information and care would be available to adolescents,while safeguarding their right to privacy, the new paragraph hasan emphasis on the rights, duties and responsibilities ofparents. The paragraph also states "...these services mustsafeguard the rights of adolescents to privacy, confidentiality,respect and informed consent, respecting cultural values andreligious beliefs."


This chapter contains sections on: primary health care and thehealth-care sector; child survival and health; women's health andsafe motherhood; and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infectionand acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Vice-Chair Nicolaas Biegman opened discussion on the mostcontentious issue, abortion, as referred to in paragraph 8.25 onTuesday, 6 September. Delegates were urged to move swiftly onthis issue to show the world and the media that this Conferencewas not about abortion, but about population and development.Nevertheless, during the course of the week, scores ofdelegations took the floor to comment on this paragraph.Delegates addressed most of their comments to the alternativeversion of paragraph 8.25, which was originally proposed by theEU at PrepCom III. The following positions emerged during thecourse of the debate. Norway, the US, South Africa and otherssaid they preferred the original 8.25, but would agree to thealternative 8.25 in order to reach consensus. The EU, Japan,Brazil, India and many others supported the alternative 8.25. TheHoly See, Malta, Ecuador and Argentina accepted the alternative8.25 as a basis for discussion, but indicated reservations onendorsing legal abortion and the terms "safe" versus "unsafe."Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and others suggested removingthe qualifiers before the term "abortion" and replacing "legal"with "permitted" or "allowed." Substantive amendments to thealternative 8.25 were suggested by Barbados, supported by theCaribbean States, the US, Kenya and others who said thatGovernments should not have recourse to punitive measure andaccess to reliable health care should be provided. Pakistan,supported by Iran, Egypt, Malaysia and Indonesia, stated that inno case should abortion be promoted as a method of familyplanning. Zimbabwe supported by Cyprus, Zambia, Bangladesh andothers, wanted to retain reference to post-abortion counselling,education and family planning.

Late that evening, Biegman circulated a new "compromise" text andthe issue was reopened for debate once again Tuesday night andWednesday morning. The reference to "legal abortion" gave rise toheated exchanges. Malta expressed difficulties, since a Statecannot be expected to legalize something it considers illegal.Guatemala said that to have legal abortion was tantamount tohaving legal robbery or rape. Ecuador could not go along with thenew draft and Argentina said that it should reflect thefundamental right to life as a human right. On the other hand,Zambia said that keeping the reference to legal abortion wastheir "rock bottom" compromise. Cyprus, supported by Canada, saidthat references to pre-and post-abortion counselling must betaken into account. Norway said that the new draft reflected theconsensus.

Since discussion in the Main Committee was getting nowhere, asmall working group, chaired by Pakistan, was established tonegotiate a compromise. The group included: Iran, Egypt, the US,Norway, Indonesia, the EU, the Russian Federation, Barbados,South Africa, Nicaragua, Trinidad and Tobago, El Salvador, Beninand Malta. The consensus text was distributed in English in theMain Committee on the evening of Thursday, 8 September, and wasavailable in all languages the following morning. Severaldelegations noted translation problems and it was agreed thatthese would be addressed in the final version. The Holy See,Argentina, Peru, Malta and the Dominican Republic withheld theirassent until the end of discussions on Chapters VII and VIII. TheCentral American States said that they were working on theSpanish text and would reserve their position, pending thetranslation. A host of countries, including Barbados (on behalfof the Caribbean States), Germany (on behalf of the EU), theSolomon Islands (on behalf of the Pacific Island States), China,India, the US and Brazil supported the text. Egypt, Bahrain, andJordan noted that they would be interpret the text in accordancewith their national and religious laws.

Paragraph 8.25 now reads: "In no case should abortion be promotedas a method of family planning. All Governments and relevantintergovernmental and non-governmental organizations are urged tostrengthen their commitment to women's health, to deal with thehealth impact of unsafe abortion* as a major publichealth concern and to reduce the recourse to abortion throughexpanded and improved family planning services. Prevention ofunwanted pregnancies must always be given the highest priorityand all attempts should be made to eliminate the need forabortion. Women who have unwanted pregnancies should have readyaccess to reliable information and compassionate counselling. Anymeasures or changes related to abortion within the health systemcan only be determined at the national or local level accordingto the national legislative process. In circumstances in whichabortion is not against the law, such abortion should be safe. Inall cases, women should have access to quality services for themanagement of complications arising from abortion. Post-abortioncounselling, education and family planning services should beoffered promptly which will also help to avoid repeat abortions."The footnote reads: "*Unsafe abortion is defined as aprocedure for terminating an unwanted pregnancy either by personslacking necessary skills or in an environment lacking the minimalmedical standards or both."

Delegates were only then able to address the remaining bracketedtext. Quantitative goals in paragraph 8.5 (life expectancy), 8.16(infant mortality) and 8.21 (maternal mortality and morbidity)were unbracketed. In paragraphs 8.17 and 8.19, the term "safemotherhood" had been bracketed. The Chair proposed adding afootnote containing the WHO definition for safe motherhood: "Safemotherhood aims at attaining optimal maternal and newborn health.It implies reduction of maternal mortality and morbidity andenhancement of the health of newborn infants through equitableaccess to primary health care, including family planning,prenatal, delivery and postnatal care for the mother and infant,and access to essential obstetric and neonatal care." Delegatesagreed and thus the term "safe motherhood" was unbracketedthroughout the document. In paragraph 8.35 (prevention of HIVinfection), the Holy See reminded delegates that although theyagreed to remove the brackets around "condoms," they will notjoin the consensus on this specific word in this specificparagraph.


This chapter contains three parts: population distribution andsustainable development; population growth in large urbanagglomerations; and internally displaced persons. Delegatesreached agreement on most of this chapter at PrepCom III. Duringdiscussion of this chapter in the Main Committee on Thursday, 8September, a considerable amount of time was spent discussing thebracketed text "[nationally and internationally]" in paragraph9.25, which addresses solutions to questions related tointernally displaced persons, including their right to voluntaryand safe return to their home of origin. Several alternativephrases were proposed before consensus was finally achieved. Thetext reads: "Measures should be taken at the national level withinternational cooperation, as appropriate, in accordance with theUnited Nations Charter to find lasting solutions to questionsrelated to internally displaced persons, including their rightsto voluntary and safe return to their home of origin."


This chapter contains four sections: international migration anddevelopment; documented migrants; undocumented migrants; andrefugees, asylum seekers and displaced persons. Four major issuesremained unresolved at the end of PrepCom III: the rights ofminorities and indigenous people; the right to familyreunification; the rights of documented migrants; and the humanrights of undocumented migrants.

Brackets appeared in paragraph 10.3, "to ensure the [human]rights of [individuals belonging to] minorities, and indigenouspeople[s] are respected." Delegates made a variety of proposalsbefore Algeria proposed language from a 1992 UN General AssemblyResolution, which was accepted. The phrase now reads: "to ensurethat the rights of persons belonging to ethnic, religious orlinguistic minorities and indigenous people are respected."

In paragraph 10.13 (rights of documented migrants), the word"age" was bracketed. At PrepCom III, the Philippines had askedfor this word, since migration patterns are often discriminatorybased on age, and Australia had insisted on the brackets. ThePhilippines suggested deleting "age" and adding a new phrase atthe end of the sentence: "including the special needs of childrenand the elderly." This formulation was approved.

In paragraph 10.20, the phrase "in accordance with internationallaw" was bracketed, when referring to human rights protection ofundocumented migrants. The US proposed, and Cuba amended,alternative text, which was accepted. It now reads: "inaccordance with relevant international instruments."

The "right to family reunification" in paragraph 10.12 proved tobe one of the more difficult issues to solve at the Conference.Many developing countries wanted to delete the brackets andrecognize this right. Canada, Australia, Switzerland and the UScommented that their commitment to the objective of familyreunification is clear, but their Governments retain the abilityto define family and limit the number of family members. Thesecountries also thought that family reunification was sufficientlycovered in paragraph 10.13. Other countries were concerned sincethe right to family reunification is not a universally recognizedhuman right, and this Programme of Action should not establishany new rights.

When it appeared as though the Main Committee was unable to makeheadway on this issue, a working group, chaired by Soliman Awaad(Egypt), was established. The group met over the course of threedays before a compromise emerged. When the new text, which didnot refer to the right of family reunification, was announced onSaturday, 10 September, over 35 delegates expressed theirregrets, frustration, sadness, difficulties and evenreservations. Several delegates asked that the draft be rejectedsince it was not fully endorsed. The working group reconvened andannounced a new compromise on Monday afternoon: "Consistent withArticle 10 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and allother relevant universally recognized human rights instruments,all Governments, particularly those of receiving countries, mustrecognize the vital importance of family reunification andpromote its integration into their national legislation in orderto ensure the protection of the unity of the families ofdocumented migrants." Egypt added that there was strong supportin the working group for a global conference on internationalmigration and development and that the report of the conferenceshould note this support.


This chapter contains the following sections: education,population and sustainable development; and populationinformation, education and communication. On Thursday, 8September, Vice-Chair Lionel Hurst indicated that the paragraphsthat deal with fertility regulation and sexual and reproductivehealth would not be addressed until the issue was resolved inChapter VII. In paragraph 11.2 (education), brackets around"taking into account religious and cultural values of migrants"were quickly removed after Canada suggested "which respects thereligious and cultural backgrounds of migrants." In paragraph11.4 (education of young people), delegates had to choose betweenan original and an alternative draft. Uganda said that thealternative draft dealt better with the interests of bothdeveloped and developing countries, the issue of rural-urbanmigration and the "brain drain." Chile proposed an amendmentcalling for harmonious development of educational systems. Thealternative draft was accepted with this amendment.

In paragraph 11.16 (raising awareness through information), thefollowing text was added: "More education is needed in allsocieties on the implications of population-environmentrelationships, in order to influence behavioural change andconsumer lifestyles, and to promote sustainable management ofnatural resources. The media should be a major instrument forexpanding knowledge and motivation."

Discussion then turned to paragraph 11.23, which deals with theuse of entertainment programmes as a means of encouraging publicdiscussions of topics related to the implementation of theProgramme of Action. There was a lengthy debate whether the useof such programmes should be "greater," "appropriate," "better,""effective,"or "with greater effectiveness." Algeria, supportedby the EU, asked whether this was really a substantial point anddelegates finally agreed on "greater and effective."


This chapter contains three sections: basic data collection,analysis and dissemination; reproductive health research; andsocial and economic research. The footnote attached to paragraph12.20, which lists underserved groups, was completely bracketed,as was "indigenous people[s]." The EU felt that the footnoteincluded too many groups. Canada proposed adding language at thebeginning of the footnote to read "which could include." Thisamendment was accepted and the [s] was also deleted at the end of"peoples." In addition, the words "individuals and" were insertedbefore the word "families" in paragraph 12.20(b), which dealswith the use of research findings to improve the formulation ofpolicies, and the implementation, monitoring and evaluation ofprogrammes and projects that improve the welfare of individualsand families.


This chapter contains three sections: national policies and plansof action; programme management and human resource development;and resource mobilization and allocation. The latter proved to bethe most contentious section. As at PrepCom III, delegatesquestioned and challenged the Secretariat on the methodology usedto derive the cost figures in paragraph 13.15, which deals withestimates and allocation of programme costs for four majorcomponents of basic reproductive health services: familyplanning, basic reproductive health services, sexuallytransmitted disease/HIV/AIDS prevention, and basic research, dataand population and development policy analysis. After a lengthydebate in the Main Committee, interested delegates met and workedout a compromise. The chapeau now includes the following: "Theseare indicative cost estimates prepared by experts based onexperience to date of the four components referred to above.These estimates should be reviewed and updated on the basis ofthe comprehensive approach reflected in paragraph 13.14 of thisProgramme of Action, particularly with respect to the costs ofimplementing reproductive health service delivery."

In paragraph 13.16, it was agreed at PrepCom III that up to twothirds of the costs will continue to be met by the countriesthemselves. The phrase "and up to one third from externalsources," however, remained in brackets. After various attemptsat amending the phrase, delegates agreed on "in the order of onethird from external sources."

In paragraph 13.23, Senegal, supported by Zimbabwe, Mali andothers, proposed an amendment where Governments would devote atleast 20% of public sector expenditures to the social sectors,and 20% of official development assistance, stressing povertyeradication. Algeria noted that the G-77 did not have a positionon this concept -- known as the 20/20 Initiative -- pending theoutcome of discussions at the forthcoming World Summit for SocialDevelopment. Sweden highlighted its commitment to socialdevelopment assistance, but pointed out that adoption of the20/20 Initiative would require increased understanding. Germany,on behalf of the EU, supported by Japan and others, preferred touse the phrase "an increased proportion" rather than endorsingthe 20/20 Initiative. Delegates finally reached a compromise,which was part of a package deal with paragraph 14.11: "In thisregard, Governments are urged to devote an increased proportionof public sector expenditures to the social sectors, as well asan increased proportion of official development assistance...."


This chapter contains two sections: responsibilities of partnersin development; and towards a new commitment to fundingpopulation and development. There were numerous brackets in thischapter at the end of PrepCom III, but only one issue causedprotracted discussion in Cairo. In paragraph 14.3, one of theobjectives, which had been proposed by the US, dealt with humanrights. China called for its deletion, since the issue of humanrights is covered in the principles. After both the G-77 and theEU proposed alternatives, the Chair decided to postpone furtherdiscussion, pending the outcome of deliberations on this issue inChapter II. The text for 14.3(f), which was agreed to on the lastday, reads: "To urge that all population and developmentprogrammes, with full respect for the various religious andethical values and cultural backgrounds of each country's people,adhere to basic human rights recognized by the internationalcommunity and recalled in the present Programme of Action."

Sub-paragraph 14.3(b) was bracketed, since some developedcountries did not think that the ICPD was the place to deal withmacroeconomic policies. In Cairo, delegates reached agreement on:"To urge that the international community adopt favourablemacroeconomic policies for promoting sustained economic growthand sustainable development in developing countries."

The brackets in paragraph 14.11 (actions to be taken by theinternational donor community) were removed as part of packagedeals with paragraphs 13.23 and 13.15. The contentious part ofthis paragraph now reads: "...the need for complementary resourceflows from donor countries would be in the order of: $5.7 billionin 2000, $6.1 billion in 2005, $6.8 billion in 2010 and $7.2billion in 2015. The international community takes note of theinitiative to mobilize resources to give all people access tobasic social services, known as the 20/20 Initiative, which willbe studied further within the context of the World Summit forSocial Development."

Paragraphs 14.13, 14.15 and 14.16 all contained reference tocountries with economies in transition. Delegates agreed to:retain the reference to this group of countries in 14.13 (theneed for donor coordination); delete the reference in 14.14(allocation of external financial resources); and remove thebrackets from 14.15, which was amended to read: "Countries witheconomies in transition should receive temporary assistance forpopulation and development activities...."

In paragraph 14.17, the brackets were removed and the text reads:"Innovative financing, including new ways of generating publicand private financing resources, including various forms of debtrelief, should be explored."


This chapter contains two sections: local, national andinternational non-governmental organizations; and the privatesector. Delegates had reached agreement on this chapter duringintensive negotiations at PrepCom III. The Main Committeeconsidered this chapter on the last day and, at the same meeting,approved the text.


This chapter contains three sections, dealing with nationalactivities, subregional and regional activities, and activitiesat the international level. The only brackets were in paragraph16.3 on implementation, monitoring and review, where delegateshad to choose between three possible options: consistency withhuman rights and ethical principles, the adoption of indicators,or consistency with the principles and objectives of theProgramme of Action. The US, supported by Ethiopia, suggested anamendment to the third option so that reference would be made tohuman rights and ethical principles, while Mexico offered toretain the second version as a compromise. Although somedelegates wanted to retain reference to the need for qualitativeand quantitative indicators, they agreed to the retention of thethird option: "Implementation, monitoring and evaluation of theProgramme of Action at all levels should be conducted in a mannerconsistent with its principles and objectives."


On Tuesday morning, 13 September 1994, the Plenary convened at11:00 am to formerly adopt the Programme of Action and concludeits business. The first item on the agenda was the adoption ofthe report of the Credentials Committee, as contained inA/CONF.171/11 and Corr.1. The Rapporteur-General, Peeter Olesk(Estonia), then introduced the draft Report of the Conference(A/CONF.171/L.4). Delegates adopted the report of the CredentialsCommittee and authorized the Rapporteur-General to complete theReport of the Conference and submit it to the General Assembly.

ADOPTION OF THE PROGRAMME OF ACTION: The Chair, Dr. Maher Mahran,then invited Main Committee Chair Dr. Fred Sai to introduce theProgramme of Action. Jerzy Holzer (Poland), the rapporteur of theMain Committee, introduced document A/CONF.171/L.3 and Add.1-17,which contain the Programme of Action. The Chair then began theprocess of formally adopting each chapter. Chapter I (Preamble)was adopted without comment. In Chapter II (Principles), Iranregistered its reservations on language that deals with sexualrelationships outside of marriage and other behaviors that arenot consistent with Islam. Chapter III (Interrelationshipsbetween population, sustained economic growth and sustainabledevelopment) was adopted without comment.

In Chapter IV (Gender equality, equity and empowerment of women),Libya expressed reservations with all terms that contradictIslamic law, particularly those relating to inheritance rightsand sexual behavior. In Chapter V (The family, its roles, rights,composition and structure), the Dominican Republic, supported byPakistan and Zimbabwe, expressed concern about the absence of aUN instrument for family integration and proposed that the UNconsider this need. Chapter VI (Population growth and structure)was adopted without comment.

In Chapter VII (Reproductive rights and reproductive health),Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan, Kuwait and Djibouti expressed theirreservations on terminology that is in contradiction with IslamicLaw, particularly the basic rights of couples and individuals. ElSalvador also expressed reservations on the rights ofindividuals. Egypt made an observation that they had also calledfor deletion of the word "individuals." Algeria pointed out thatthe rights of individuals cannot be interpreted outside marriage.Syria said they would address these concepts according to theethical, cultural and religious convictions of their society.Jordan said that they would interpret the document according toIslamic and national laws. Fred Sai pointed out that, accordingto the chapeau in Chapter II, nothing in this Programme of Actionmust be implemented if it is outside of national laws andreligious values. After the chapter was adopted, Malta expressedreservations on the chapter's title, the terms "reproductivehealth," "reproductive rights" and the "regulation of fertility."Iran expressed reservations with the language that addressessexual relations outside of marriage. Malaysia and the Maldivessaid they would interpret the chapter according to Islamic law.

In Chapter VIII (Health, morbidity and mortality), Libyaexpressed reservations on the term "unwanted pregnancies." ElSalvador pointed out that there were still problems with theSpanish translation. Yemen registered its reservations with anumber of terms that are not in accordance with Islamic law.After the chapter was adopted, Malta noted its reservations withthe portion of paragraph 8.25 with reference to circumstanceswhen abortion is not against the law.

Chapter IX (Population distribution, urbanization and internalmigration) was adopted without comment. In Chapter X(International migration), the Philippines and C=te d'Ivoireregretted that the document does not acknowledge the right tofamily reunification and called for an international conferenceon migration and development. The chapter was then adopted.Chapters XI (Population, development and education), XII(Technology, research and development) and XIII (National action)were adopted without comment.

In Chapter XIV (International cooperation), Australia pointed outthat in the discussion on "indigenous people," they would havepreferred the term "indigenous peoples," to give recognition tothe diversity of these peoples, and that they will continue tofight for this idea in other fora. The chapter was then adopted,as were Chapters XV (Partnership with the non-governmentalsector) and XVI (Follow-up to the Conference). The Conferencethen adopted the final part of the report(A/CONF.171/L.3/Add.17), which contained paragraphs where changeswere made in an effort to harmonize the language throughout theProgramme of Action.

Algeria, on behalf of the G-77 and China, then introduceddocument A/CONF.171/L.5, which states that the ICPD adopts theProgramme of Action, recommends to the General Assembly that itendorse the Programme of Action and consider the synthesis ofnational reports on population and development prepared by theSecretariat of the Conference. Twenty-four delegations commentedor expressed reservations on the Programme of Action.

Peru stated that it would implement the Programme of Action inline with its constitution, international human rights agreementsand the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Ecuador expressedsimilar reservations on paragraph 8.25, since it cannot acceptprinciples that violate its constitution, sovereignty and laws.

Argentina said that its reservations include: Chapter II -- sincelife begins at conception; Chapter V -- although the family mayhave different forms, its origin and foundation cannot bechanged; and Chapter VII -- abortion is not a method ofregulating fertility. The Dominican Republic also stated thatlife begins at conception and, accordingly, registeredreservations on "reproductive and sexual health," "reproductiverights," "sexual rights" and "regulation of fertility," when theyinclude abortion. They also placed a reservation on the term"couples," when it refers to people of the same sex, and on theterm "individuals," when it refers to individuals outside ofmarriage. The United Arab Emirates said it will adhere to IslamicLaw on abortion and inheritance.

The Holy See stated that it could join the consensus on: theprinciples, as a sign of solidarity, as well as Chapters II, IV,V, IX and X. They could not join the consensus on Chapters XII-XVI because of their specific nature. They still have someconcerns about the question of abortion and extramarital sexamong adolescents in Chapter VII. Despite the many positiveaspects of Chapter VII and VIII, the text has other broaderimplications, so the Holy See could not join the consensus onthese chapters. He added that joining the consensus should not beseen as an endorsement of abortion, contraceptives, the use ofcondoms in HIV/AIDS prevention programmes, or sterilization.

Nicaragua stated that every person has the right to life thatbegins at conception. It registered reservations on the terms"sexual rights," "reproductive rights," and "reproductive andsexual health," when they contain abortion or termination ofpregnancy, as well as on the inclusion of abortion in the text.Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala made similar reservations andadded that "types of family" and "other unions" will never meanunions of persons of the same sex. Paraguay also stressed theright to life and said that "termination of pregnancy" can not berecognized as legal under its constitution. Brunei placedreservations on Chapters VII and XIII, which contradict IslamicLaw.

A number of delegations took the floor to comment on the text,but did not offer specific reservations, including Belize, Chile,Venezuela, Costa Rica, Pakistan, Tuvalu (on behalf of the SouthPacific island States), Guinea, Turkey, Zambia, C=ted'Ivoire and Cameroon. With a large round of applause, theProgramme of Action was finally adopted.

After adoption, Algeria (on behalf of the G-77 and China),Germany (on behalf of the EU), Australia, Indonesia, the US,Sweden, Trinidad and Tobago, Finland, Norway and Mexico took thefloor to give additional comments.

CLOSING STATEMENTS: Algeria, on behalf of the G-77 and China,then introduced document A/CONF.171/L.6, which thanked theGovernment and people of Egypt for their hospitality. TheConference adopted the document and the Chairs of the fiveregional groups, as well as Senegal, on behalf of the IslamicConference and Dr. Florence Manguyu, on behalf of the NGOs, tookthe floor to thank the Government and the people of Egypt.

The Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs congratulated thedelegates on their fair and equitable dialogue over the past tendays. In her closing statement, ICPD Secretary-General NafisSadik congratulated delegates on crafting a Programme of Actionfor the next 20 years that starts from the reality of the worldwe live in and shows us the path to a better reality. She saidthat energetic and committed implementation of the Programme ofAction will: bring women into the mainstream of development;ensure that every pregnancy is intended and every child iswanted; protect women from the results of unsafe abortion;protect the health of adolescents and encourage responsiblebehavior; combat HIV/ AIDS; promote education for all; andprotect and promote integrity of the family. Delegates respondedwith a standing ovation.

As he closed the Conference, the Chair, Maher Mahran, Egypt'sMinister of Population and Family Welfare, said that as anobstetrician he had delivered hundreds of babies, but he hadnever seen such "a difficult and protracted delivery." He saidthat his Government is proud of the outcome of this Conferencethat focused the world's attention on the urgency of populationand development.


The International Conference on Population and Development is nowhistory. The Cairo International Conference Center is no longerbuzzing with activity. The NGO Forum has packed up and moved out.Life in Cairo will continue on as before delegates from over 180countries descended on the Nile Valley. Now, as participants andobservers have a chance to look back on the Conference, it istime to assess the Conference's accomplishments, shortcomings andthe challenge for the future.


As Nafis Sadik commented in her closing remarks, there are manyaspects of the ICPD Programme of Action that represent a "quantumleap" for population and development policies. These include: ashift from the previous emphasis on demography and populationcontrol to sustainable development and the recognition of theneed for comprehensive reproductive health care and reproductiverights; strong language on the empowerment of women; reflectionof different values and religious beliefs; reaffirmation of thecentral role of the family; and recognition of the needs ofadolescents.

REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH CARE AND REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS: The Programmeof Action recognizes that population and development programmesshould be based on reproductive health, including sexual health,and reproductive rights for women, men and children. In so far asit goes beyond the traditional concept of family planning, theProgramme of Action is in stark contrast with past negotiationson this matter. Experts and advocates have long argued thatfamily planning in itself is not enough, especially when womenhave walked ten miles to a clinic to find that they cannot betreated for various reproductive tract infections. It has beenargued that family planning should be part of a much wider rangeof reproductive health services. The objectives in the Programmeof Action reflect this point of view when they call for ensuringthat comprehensive and factual information and a full range ofreproductive health-care services, including family planning, areaccessible, affordable, acceptable and convenient to all users.EMPOWERMENT OF WOMEN: Many delegates and NGO representatives havecommented that the language in the Programme of Action on theempowerment of women goes much further than the text prepared forthe Beijing Women's Conference. The objectives in the Programmeof Action include: to achieve equality and equity based on aharmonious partnership between men and women and enable women torealize their full potential; to ensure the enhancement ofwomen's contributions to sustainable development through theirfull involvement in policy- and decision-making; and to ensurethat all women are provided with the education necessary for themto meet their basic human needs and to exercise their humanrights. All countries are urged to ensure the widest and earliestpossible access by girls and women in fulfilling the goal ofuniversal primary education before the year 2015. Encouraging thefull participation of the girl-child and speaking out againstpatterns of gender discrimination is also highlighted. Thislanguage finally meets the demands of those who have long arguedthat any sound population policy has to be implemented throughthose who are in a position to make a difference -- women. ICPDSecretary-General Nafis Sadik highlighted that all delegates whotook the floor during the General Debate endorsed this position,proving that this is no longer a point defended by a minority.Although some countries argued that the language on equalinheritance rights between men and women goes against IslamicLaw, nonetheless, the progress made towards empowerment of womenis considered remarkable.

REFLECTION OF DIFFERENT VALUES AND RELIGIOUS BELIEFS: Manycommented that as a result of the concerns of the Vatican andcertain Latin American and Islamic countries, the document nowreflects different moral, ethical, religious and cultural valuesthat should, in the end, make it more implementable andlegitimate in many countries. A key element in giving thedocument greater sensitivity was the agreement on the chapeau ofChapter II (Principles), which clearly states that theimplementation of the Programme of Action will be carried outwithin the context of national laws and development priorities,with full respect for the various religious and ethical valuesand cultural backgrounds of its people, and in conformity withuniversally recognized human rights. This not only enabled thosecountries with strong religious fundamentalist communities tojoin the consensus, but it also undermined the claim by someprotesters that the Programme of Action is yet anothermanifestation of Western imperialism, where the view of a selectfew on contraception would be imposed on the developing world.

Furthermore, this language served to neutralize some of theefforts undertaken by the Holy See, among others, to preventconsensus on certain issues, including abortion, contraception,fertility regulation and sexual and reproductive rights. Prior tothe Conference, the majority of the media attention was on theso-called "un-holy alliance" between the Vatican and thefundamentalist Islamic countries. The media hype proved to beunfounded in the end, when even the Vatican admitted that itcould join the consensus on Chapter II.

REAFFIRMATION OF FAMILY AS THE BASIC UNIT IN SOCIETY: Whileeveryone agreed that the family is the basic unit in society, theflexible nature of the Programme of Action is apparent once againas several countries "qualified" their conception of the familyalong religious or cultural lines. There was some debate on thematter as the EU and other developed countries wanted to retainthe reference to "other unions," but this gave rise to suchdebate that eventually they "agreed to disagree." As a result thetext is less than clear and it will be up to the individualStates to implement as they see fit.

RECOGNITION OF THE NEEDS OF ADOLESCENTS: The fact that an entiresection of Chapter VII is dedicated to the needs of adolescentsis indicative of the realization of the importance of the issue.Although some delegations disagreed that adolescents should haveaccess to reproductive health care, including family planningservices, the text states the need "to address adolescent sexualand reproductive health issues, including unwanted pregnancy,unsafe abortion, sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS,through the promotion of responsible and healthy reproductive andsexual behaviour, including voluntary abstinence, and theprovision of appropriate services and counselling specificallysuitable for that age group."


Although delegates agree that the Cairo Conference was a success,the Conference did not succeed in meeting all of its objectives.Several important issues, including the relationship betweenpopulation and development, the relationship between populationand environmental issues, patterns of production and consumption,the role of the individual, the needs of specific sectors ofsociety, and implementation and follow-up did not receivesufficient attention. Although the Programme of Action doesreference each of these issues, the protracted debate on abortionand reproductive health issues served to detract attention fromthese important concepts.

POPULATION AND DEVELOPMENT: As the title to this Conferenceindicates, this was supposed to be a conference on populationand development. Yet, if a conference is to be judged bymedia attention and the number of minutes spent discussingcertain issues, the Cairo Conference could have been called theAbortion Conference. So many hours were spent on paragraph 8.25,that it became almost synonmous with "abortion." Many delegatesfrom developing countries commented that the Conference's lack ofan emphasis on development will hurt them in the long run. Otherscomplained that one issue should never have been allowed tomonopolize the discussion. Nevertheless, the Programme of Actiondoes reaffirm the right to development and there is a greatersense of awareness that the solution to population-relatedproblems involves sustained economic growth within the context ofsustainable development.

POPULATION AND ENVIRONMENT: Along similar lines, numerousdelegates and NGOs complained that the Conference did notsufficiently address the relationship between population andenvironmental issues. During PrepCom III, the Indian delegationargued that the UN Conference on Environment and Developmentalready addressed environmental issues and that the ICPD shouldfocus only on population and development. Despite theirobjections, there is a section in Chapter III on the relationshipbetween population and environment. Many continue to argue,however, that the treatment of issues such as excessiveconsumption and wasteful production patterns and the need tointegrate population, environment and development issues inpolicies, plans and programmes, did not receive the emphasis orattention that they deserved.

LACK OF EMPHASIS ON THE NEEDS OF THE ELDERLY AND ADOLESCENTS:Delegates and NGOs alike commented that although there aresections on both the needs of the elderly and adolescents in thetext, there was insufficient recognition of the fact that theseare two growing segments of society. The populations of manydeveloped countries are getting progressively older while thepopulations of many developing countries are getting younger. AsSweden pointed out in the closing Plenary, it would have beenuseful to focus on adoloscents as there will be over one billionof them in the near future.

THE RIGHTS OF THE INDIVIDUAL: During the 48th General Assembly,delegates gave their initial comments on the first draft of theProgramme of Action. During that two-day debate, many delegatescommented that the rights of the individual must be central tothe document. In spite of this advice, the "individual" wassubject to much scrutiny in Cairo. Numerous Latin American andIslamic countries tried to remove reference to the right ofindividuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacingand timing of their children and the right of individuals to makedecisions concerning reproduction free of discrimination,coercion and violence. Yet, one finds it hard to disagree withthe right of a woman or a man to say "no." As Zimbabwe rightlypointed out, Catholic priests as individuals choose to remaincelibate. Girls and women should have the right as individuals tosay "no" if they want to avoid the risk of sexually transmitteddiseases, HIV/AIDS and unwanted pregnancy. Many participants andobservers commented that the questions on the rights ofindividuals in the document were largely the results of religiousand cultural homophobia. However, now not only does the documentfail to respect the full rights of homosexual women and men, italso erodes the rights of heterosexual women and men.

IMPLEMENTATION AND FOLLOW-UP: Although there was lengthy debateon the chapters on national action, international cooperation,partnership with the non-governmental sector and follow-up to theConference at PrepCom III, issues relating to implementation andfollow-up received scant attention in Cairo. Several participantsand observers commented that this was the first Conference theycould remember where issues related to financial resources andmeans of implementation did not dominate the discussion duringthe final days. The Programme of Action does include reference tothe need for new and additional financial resources, the targetof 0.7% of GNP for ODA and the fact that countries are expectedto finance up to two-thirds of the costs themselves. There arealso detailed recommendations for follow-up to the Conferencewithin the UN system. However, at the Conference, there waslittle dialogue on how to translate the words into action. Therewere no pledges of additional financial support for populationand development programmes and no firm agreement on how bilateraland multilateral aid flows will be readjusted to meet theobjectives of the Programme of Action.


Now that the Conference is over, the challenge beforeGovernments, international organizations, the UN system and NGOsis to ensure that the Programme of Action is translated fromwords to action. Some of the specific challenges include:national implementation; UN system implementation; changes inbilateral and multilateral aid flows for population programmes;NGO follow-up and ensuring that the gains made in Cairo are notlost in Copenhagen or Beijing.

NATIONAL IMPLEMENTATION: Governments now have to take theProgramme of Action home and implement it. This will take a greatdeal of political will, particularly since Governments will haveto determine what is relevant for their country and how toproceed with "sensitive" issues. While it may lead to unevenlevels of implementation, this procedure will ensure that allStates have the means to implement the Programme of Action. Withsuch a sensitive issue, it also allows for developing States toparticipate in international cooperation programmes and yet tosee their national sovereignty respected.

Some Governments or regions have already planned follow-upactivities. For example, the Ministers of Southern African Stateswill have a conference on population and development in CapeTown, South Africa, next year to implement the Programme ofAction in their region. There is always a risk that someGovernments will ignore their implementation duties or fail torespect some of the rights that were highlighted in the Programmeof Action, but at least they now have a set of norms according towhich they can be scaled, and successes and failures will be moreidentifiable. As a result, the incentive to succeed -- or atleast to try to -- will be that much greater.

UN SYSTEM IMPLEMENTATION: The first step for the UN system'simplementation of the Programme of Action will be at the 49thsession of the UN General Assembly. Chapter XVI calls on theGeneral Assembly to organize a regular review of theimplementation of the Programme of Action. Furthermore, theGeneral Assembly is called on to promote an integrated approachin providing system-wide coordination and guidance in themonitoring of the implementation of the Programme of Action aswell as giving consideration to the establishment of a separateExecutive Board for UNFPA. ECOSOC has been asked to consider thespecific roles of the relevant UN organs dealing with populationand development. It is also likely that some countries willrequest the General Assembly to pass a resolution establishing anInternational Conference on Migration and Development to be heldin 1997. Implementation of the Programme of Action at theinternational level depends largely on these and otheractivities. Therefore, it will be important for the 49th GeneralAssembly to "keep the ball rolling" so that the UN System canbegin to make the necessary adaptations in its policies andprogrammes.

BILATERAL AND MULTILATERAL FUNDING: One of the outcomes to theCairo Conference should be a change in the flow of funds frommultilateral and bilateral institutions to comprehensivereproductive health programmes rather than limited familyplanning programmes. It is still unclear whether in practice theimplementation will be as all-encompassing as the Programme ofAction calls for. If, for example, financial resources are toolimited, priority may well be given to family planning, to thedetriment of other aspects of reproductive health. Many NGOs havealready begun to lobby the World Bank and other financialsupporters of family planning and population-related activitiesto change their funding priorities. On another front, UNICEF andUNDP will continue to build support for the 20/20 Initiativewithin the context of the preparations for the World Summit forSocial Development. A number of countries already are lookingfavorably at this initiative, although others still have seriousquestions and are waiting for more substantive details.

NGO FOLLOW-UP: The role of NGOs in implementation is key both indeveloped and developing countries. The success of the Programmeof Action will depend on how it is implemented. It is up tograssroots and international NGOs to keep the pressure onGovernments to implement the recommendations in the document. Inmany cases, the grassroots NGOs are the ones dealing withproblems as they occur and who will be able to monitor both theefforts that are carried out and the effects that these effortshave on those concerned. In this respect, the role of NGOs willbe that of watchdogs who can call attention to the blatantfailures or violations of the Governments' commitments.International NGOs will also need to lobby multilateral andbilateral funders to ensure that their policies reflect therecommendations in the Programme of Action and actually serve tomeet the needs of their intended beneficiaries. NGOs will also beactive on the UN front, to ensure that the Programme of Actionstays alive and forces change in the relevant UN organs.

TOWARDS COPENHAGEN AND BEIJING: With the success of the CairoConference behind them, it is now up to Governments, the UNsystem, international and non-governmental organizations and themedia to ensure that progress is made and ground is not lost atthe forthcoming World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagenand the fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. Itmay well be that some countries will feel, in retrospect, thattoo many concessions were made, particularly in terms ofempowerment of women. This will be relevant at two levels in theupcoming Conferences. On the one hand, new, weaker languagecannot be permitted, but on the other, not confirming this"success" in other fora will mean that this was just a stroke ofluck and that the mentalities and genuine willingness ofGovernments have not been changed. Finally, without activeparticipation of people at all levels -- local, national,regional and international -- the Programme of Action will not beworth more than the paper it is written on.