At the 1974 World Conference on Population, the international community highlighted common concerns over emerging population issues by adopting the World Population Plan of Action, containing recommendations and guidelines aimed at "a better quality of life and rapid socio-economic development" for all people. The Bucharest conference was one of three world conferences convened by the United Nations on population (Bucharest, 1974; Mexico City, 1984; ICPD, 1994).
Key principles articulated in the World Plan of Action, which have since been reaffirmed by UN Member States, are:
- The formulation and implementation of population policies are the sovereign right of each nation.
- All couples and individuals have the right to decide freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children and to have the information, education and means to do so.
- Population and development are interrelated
The Plan states: 'All couples and individuals have the basic right to decide freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children and to have the information, education and means to do so; the responsibility of couples and individuals in the exercise of this right takes into account the needs of their living and future children, and their responsibilities toward the community' (para. 14(f) in the Principles and Objectives).
It recommends that all countries:
- respect and ensure, regardless of their overall demographic goals, the right of persons to determine, in a free, informed and responsible manner, the number and spacing of their children;
- Encourage appropriate education concerning responsible parenthood and make available to persons who so desire advice and the means of achieving it;
- Ensure that family planning, medical and related social services aim not only at the prevention of unwanted pregnancies but also at the elimination of involuntary sterility and subfecundity in order that all couples may be permitted to achieve their desired number of children, and that child adoption may be facilitated;
- Equal status of men and women in the family and in society improves the overall quality of live. This principle of equality should be fully realized in family planning where each spouse should consider the welfare of the other members of the family; (para. 42).
- Improvement of the status of women in the family and in society can contribute, where desired, to smaller family size, and the opportunity for women to plan births also improves their individual status (para. 43). Source: UN Population Division