Posted on | October 1, 2012 by Susan Yoshihara, Ph.D. |
There will be no international population conference on the 20th anniversary of the 1994 Cairo conference. So says UN Population Fund executive director. Instead, he announced a UN “high level meeting.”
This should come as no surprise.
Conferences marking the decade anniversaries of such meetings were more common until the 2000s when advancing the abortion agenda became more difficult with the participation of the U.S. under the George W. Bush administration. Abortion advocates feared set backs in the significant gains they made in the 1990s. High Level Meetings, such as the one focused on family planning funding in 2010, provide a less transparent atmosphere so that the agenda can advance unobstructed by the press, which is more easily restricted, or by conservative NGOs working with pro-life governments, NGOs which can be kept out by simply citing lack of space.
The economic downturn and political realities have made such conferences infeasible anyway. The UN Youth Conference in the summer of 2011 was originally scheduled to take place in Tunisia, but like the proposed 2014 High Level Meeting on population, ended up at UN headquarters in midtown Manhattan. What population enthusiasts will gain in lack of transparency they will lose in ambience: there is nothing so effective as a poor, oppressively hot, overcrowded city to advance the population agenda. Barring a blackout, even the tail end of July in New York can’t compare.