UN Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs,
with support from the UN Population Fund (UNFPA)
From the NGO Desk Economic and Social Council Resolution 1993/4 provided non-governmental organizations (NGOS with an unprecedented opportunity to participate in the preparatory process of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), to be held in Cairo in 1994. On the occasion of the second session of the Preparatory Committee - PrepCom 11 - 332 non-governmental organizations were officially accredited to the ICPD process. Of that number, 142 attended PrepCom 11, in addition to the 69 NGOs that already had consultative status with ECOSOC. This brought the total number of NGOs to 211 non-governmental organizations represented by approximately 400 NGO participants. Their contribution to PrepCom 11 was highly appreciated by both delegations and the ICPD Secretariat. Forty-one NGOs addressed the plenary session and presented their views. One of the many important achievements for NGOs was the inclusion of Chapter XIV - "Partnership with the Non-Governmental Sector" - in the Conceptual Framework In her opening statement, ICPD Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNFPA, Dr. Nafis Sadik, reiterated the importance of NGO participation in population and development activities and welcomed active NGO involvement in the ICPD and its PrepComs. Several government representatives, such as those from Brazil, Canada, Egypt, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Sweden, Venezuela and Zimbabwe, confirmed the importance their governments placed on the work of NGOs. "We are in this together. NGOs were the stars of UNCED'! were the words used by the Counselor at the United States Department of State, the Honourable Timothy Wirth, when he delivered his government's message to PrepCom 11 participants. Dr. Fred Sai, PrepCom Chairman and President of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), spoke of the important role played by NGOs on the national level "What happens at home is more important than what is taking place here", he said. Such was his message of encouragement to the African Regional NGO group. The OAU Ambassador, H.E. Mr. Ibrahima Sy, in his address to the African NGO group, highlighted the importance of national population programmes in Africa and added that OAU was currently working on a Non Governmental Liaison Service (NGLS) for its social programmes. In addition to the scheduled meetings, NGOs participated in daily caucuses on women's issues, organized by the Women s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO). Participants were briefed on the activities of the PrepCom and on United Nations procedures. The NGO Steering Committee organized a series of seminars dealing with issues such as ethics, AIDS, migration and reproductive health. The International Women's Health Coalition, U.N.-NGLS, IPPF and other groups also held regular meetings for their affiliates. The indigenous groups met on several occasions as well, to put forth their specific population and development concerns. Three regional meetings were organized on a daily basis by the ICPD Secretariat for NGOs from Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and the Latin America and the Caribbean regions These meetings provided fora for NGOs to discuss important regional issues and to prepare speeches for the PrepCom. They also provided an opportunity for NGOs to meet representatives of their own governments, those from other countries, as well as U.N officials. The regional meetings led to the creation of an organization called "The Southern NGO Forum" which is expected to meet in February 1994 to discuss common matters affecting developing countries from the South. The purpose of the Forum is to create networks and reach common positions on population and development questions.