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CPD 1996

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The Commission on Population and Development, which marked its fiftieth anniversary in 1996, held its twenty-ninth session at United Nations Headquarters from 26 February to 1 March 1996. The five-day session was the first time that the Commission had met since its membership was increased from 27 to 47 by the Economic and Social Council in its decision 1995/320, which was endorsed by the General Assembly in resolution 50/124. The Population Division of the Department for Economic and Social Information and Policy Analysis of the United Nations Secretariat has served as the substantive secretariat of the Commission since its inception in 1946. At its twenty-eighth session, the Commission reaffirmed that role, acknowledging the Population Division as the body with the competency to cover the broad range of issues covered by the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development.

The work of the Commission was given new impetus by the International Conference on Population and Development (Cairo, 5-13 September 1994), and its Programme of Action. In resolution 49/128, the General Assembly gave the Commission on Population and Development, as a functional commission assisting the Economic and Social Council, the responsibility for monitoring, reviewing and assessing the implementation of the Programme of Action. The Commission is also responsible for reviewing the work programme of the Population Division.

The central theme of the twenty-ninth session was "Reproductive rights and reproductive health", including such issues as family planning, maternal health, abortion and information on sexuality. One of the documents before the Commission was a report on world population monitoring, focusing on the theme of the session. The report provided a summary of recent information on a number of topics, such as entry into reproductive life; reproductive behaviour; contraception; abortion; maternal mortality and morbidity; sexually transmitted diseases; human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS); reproductive rights; and population information, education and communication with respect to reproductive rights and reproductive health. Other reports covered the monitoring of population programmes; activities of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Implementation of the Programme of Action; activities of intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations dealing with reproductive rights and reproductive health; flows of financial resources; and programme implementation in 1995 and programme of work for the biennium 1996-1997.

As in previous sessions, the Commission held a general debate, during which members exchanged views and national experiences in the area of population, particularly the implementation of the Programme of Action.

The Commission considered follow-up actions to the recommendations of the Conference, and approved a draft resolution for adoption by the Council at its substantive session of 1996. The draft resolution strives to enhance the role of the Commission in monitoring the Programme of Action both through improved and increased reporting and by facilitating the participation of non-governmental organizations. The resolution also (a) requests improved annual reporting on financial flows related to the costed elements of the Programme of Action; (b) requests that a revised and more comprehensive report on activities of intergovernmental and non- governmental organizations in the area of reproductive rights and reproductive health be submitted to the Commission at its thirty- first session; (c) proposes that, in addition to their special coverage in the report on world population monitoring, main demographic trends be covered biennially, starting in 1997, in a new complementary concise report to be prepared by the Population Division; (d) encourages the widest possible dissemination of reports on progress in the implementation of the Programme of Action prepared by the organizations and bodies of the United Nations system, including, wherever possible, their dissemination through electronic channels of communication; and (e) requests that evidence of further progress in achieving the goals of the Programme of Action be communicated to the Commission.

In reviewing programme implementation in 1995 and examining the work programme for 1996-1997, the Commission expressed its appreciation for the high quality of work of the Population Division, and expressed concern that its work programme had had to be adjusted to take into account the cash-flow situation of the United Nations. The Commission adopted a resolution on the work programme on population, in which it regarded the work of the Population Division, in collaboration with other relevant organizations and institutions, as being of considerable importance to the monitoring of the implementation of the Programme of Action, and as serving the crucial need of the United Nations system and the international community for scientifically sound inputs to analysis, debate, planning and policy in the area of population and development. In the same resolution, the Commission recognized the need for a reappraisal of the work programme in view of the increased demands resulting from major United Nations conferences, as well as the financial situation of the Organization, and it urged the General Assembly to ensure that no essential elements of the work programme are adversely affected. The Commission also requested that it be consulted by the Director of the Population Division in the reappraisal of the work programme. The Commission fully supported the need to protect the long-term work programme of the Population Division, including both traditional demographic work and the development of innovative approaches to meeting new demands, following the outcomes of the International Conference on Population and Development and other recent major United Nations conferences.

The Commission also adopted the provisional agenda for its thirtieth session, in 1997, and the report on its twenty-ninth session.

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