Dhaka Round Table to Discuss Civil Society Involvement in Carrying out the ICPD Programme of Action

United Nations Population Fund
Contact: in New York:
Alex Marshall
Fax: (212) 557-6416

Abubakar Dungus
William Ryan

The ICPD+5 review process

DHAKA, Bangladesh, 24 July 1998 (UNFPA) – A wide range of civil society partners -- including non-governmental organizations (NGOs), community groups and religious leaders, among others -- must be involved along with governments in designing, implementing and monitoring programmes relating to reproductive health, population and development; this was one of the key agreements reached at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo.

An international round-table meeting, to be held at the Dhaka Sheraton Hotel from 27-30 July, will examine the role of civil society in implementing the ICPD Programme of Action.

Convened by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and hosted by the Government of Bangladesh, the "Round Table on Partnership with Civil Society in the Implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action" is part of "ICPD+5", a series of international activities reviewing progress since the 1994 Cairo conference. The meeting will discuss programme experiences and policy changes made by countries to involve civil society in carrying out the ICPD action plan, identify successes and constraints, and recommend key future actions to accelerate progress.

The ICPD Programme of Action notes that NGOs are rightly recognized for their comparative advantage in relation to government agencies because of their innovative, flexible and responsive programme design and implementation, including grassroots participation. They are quite often based in and interact with constituencies that are poorly served and hard to reach through government channels. With the ICPD’s adoption of a broad reproductive health agenda, and its goals of universal access to reproductive health care, the potential role of non-governmental groups in service delivery was also widened considerably.

The Programme of Action explains the basis for stronger partnerships with NGOs and the private sector. NGO involvement, it states, should complement government efforts to provide full, safe and accessible reproductive health services, including those for family planning purposes.

The round table will be attended by the representatives of governments, NGOs and other civil society groups from about 40 developed and developing countries, as well as those of academic and research institutions and UN agencies.

The opening plenary will hear addresses by the Speaker of Parliament of Bangladesh, Mr. Humayun Rashid Chowdhury; the Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Mr. Janab Salahuddin Yusuf; and UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Nafis Sadik, among others.

The 4-day meeting will then break into sessions devoted to particular topics. They include the following: an overview session on Partnership With Civil Society to Implement the ICPD Programme of Action; Partnership to Create An Enabling Environment for the Implementation of the Programme of Action (28 July); Social Mobilization to Promote and Implement the Programme of Action (29 July); Partnership for Capacity Strengthening, Accountability, Coalition Building and Financial Stability (29 July); and Partnership to Promote Full Access to as well as High Quality and Full Range of Services for Reproductive Health, including Family Planning and Sexual Health (30 July).

The meeting will also feature panel discussions on related themes. On Thursday, 30 July, the four working groups will produce a summary report with recommendations for future actions.

As part of the ICPD +5 process, UNFPA is sponsoring a series of round-table discussions and technical meetings, leading up to an international forum on ICPD implementation, to be held in February 1999 in The Hague, the Netherlands. Forum participants will include governments, parliamentarians, academics, foundations, and representatives of civil society including NGOs and the private sector from more than 100 countries.

The report on the Round Table on Partnership with the Civil Society will be consolidated, along with those from other round tables and technical meetings, into a document for review by The Hague Forum and as background material for the Secretary-General’s report to a Special Session of the UN General Assembly, in June and July 1999.

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