International Conference on Population and Development


Today, it is globally recognized that fulfilling the rights of women and girls is central to development. But if one were to trace the origins of this realization, many threads would lead back to Cairo in 1994.

There, at the International Conference on Population and Development, diverse views on human rights, population, sexual and reproductive health, gender equality and sustainable development merged into a remarkable global consensus that placed individual dignity and human rights, including the right to plan one’s family, at the very heart of development.

Twenty years later, the comprehensive ICPD Beyond 2014 Review overwhelmingly supported the consensus that investing in individual human rights, capabilities and dignity ‒ across multiple sectors and through the life course ‒ is the foundation of sustainable development.

In September 2014, a Special Session of the General Assembly endorsed the findings of the 20-year review, and governments committed to intensified efforts to address gaps and emerging challenges.

Principles of the ICPD

The ICPD Programme of Action, adopted in 1994 by 179 Member States, lays out a far-sighted plan for advancing human well-being that places the human rights of individuals, rather than numerical population targets, at the centre of the global development agenda.

It emphasizes the value of investing in women and girls, both as an end in itself and as a key to improving the quality of life for everyone. And it affirms the importance of sexual and reproductive health, including family planning, as a precondition for women’s empowerment. It calls for an end to gender-based violence and harmful traditional practices, including female genital mutilation.

Further, the Programme of Action highlights the crucial links between sexual and reproductive health and rights with almost every aspect of population and development, from urbanization, migration and ageing to changing family structures and the importance of addressing the rights of young people. It calls attention to the ways in which investing in women and youth, especially in their sexual and reproductive health, can impact environmental sustainability and population dynamics.

UNFPA generates annual assessments of the levels of national resources and international assistance required for implementation of the Programme of Action, which governments agreed to make available. Initially considered to have a 20-year time horizon, the Programme of Action was extended beyond 2014 by the General Assembly.

The ICPD Beyond 2014

The insistance of the Cairo Programme of Action that individual dignity and human rights are the foundation of a resilient, sustainable future was groundbreaking in 1994, but has been validated by a series of in-depth reviews. 

The most ambitious of these culminated in 2014. At the 20th anniversary of the Cairo Conference, the General Assembly, in a special session, called upon countries to fulfill the commitments they made in Cairo twently years earlier and address widening inequalities and emerging challenges, as outlined in the ICPD Beyond 2014 Global Report (formally, the Framework of Actions for the follow-up to the Programme of Action of the ICPD), which was launched by the United Nations.   

The report draws on the findings of a global survey, consultations with stakeholders and partners, and the outcomes of the regional and thematic conferences and meetings. The review substantiates the central premises of the ICPD and points to significant progress in some areas, for some people. However, it also finds that little has changed for the poorest and most marginalized. It also provides governments with evidence-based guidance on how to realize the unfinished ICPD agenda, including by prioritizing the rights of young people -- in terms of education, sexual and reproductive health, and decent work. It also proposes ways to accelerate implementation of the Programme of Actuion in support of countries' development objectives. 

The timeline in this section provides details on the major conferences leading up to the ICPD Beyond 2014, as well as the regional and thematic conferences that took place during the recent extensive review process of the ICPD Programme of Action. 

ICPD Beyond 2014, the MDGs and the future development agenda

The ICPD principles and benchmarks informed the Millennium Development Goals, especially MDG5. With the endpoint of the MDGs approaching (at the end of 2015), the United Nations conducted the most comprehensive and far-reaching consultative processes in its history to inform the subsequent global development agenda. It drew from national, regional and international conferences and thematic consultations that included governments, civil society organizations and other stakeholders, as well as an online survey, The World We Want , which garnered the opinions of more than 5 million individuals. This United Nations process to reach a collective vision for the future overlapped with the parallel stream of consultations related to the ICPD.

At the launch of the ICPD beyond 2014 report, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon encouraged Member States to use the information it provides in their deliberations on the UN development agenda that will follow the Millennium Development Goals, and urged the international community to build on the successes it documents by giving priority to reproductive health and reproductive rights for all.

The ICPD beyond 2014 report provides specific recommendations on steps Member States can take to realize the unfinished agenda of Cairo.




Publications de la CIPD

ICPD and Human Rights
This publication highlights the progress countries have made through their laws and policies to implement the ICPD Programme of Action. It also describes national and international human rights developments on issues...
Financing the ICPD Programme of Action
This brochure tracks resource flows for financing the ICPD Programme of Action, including the revised estimates that take into account current needs and costs.
Financial Resource Flows For Population Activities in 2011
This report is intended to be a tool for donor and developing country Governments, multilateral organizations and agencies, private foundations and NGOs to monitor progress in achieving the financial resource targets...


Nouvelles de la CIPD

Over the last 70 years, there has been remarkable progress in sexual and reproductive health. Women learn about family planning at a clinic in Tunisia in 1987. © UN Photo/John Isaac
23 October 2015 Five of the greatest sexual health advances since the birth of the UN
The United Nations was founded 70 years ago. In that time, the world has seen enormous advances in sexual and reproductive health. These changes have helped policymakers recognize that healthy and empowered women are...
15 April 2014 Harnessing the potential of Africa’s youth
UNITED NATIONS, New York – The growing number of young people in Africa could offer enormous potential gains to the continent, but only if their needs are met and their rights are fulfilled. This was the central message...
13 April 2014 Making Youth Participation a Reality
UNITED NATIONS, New York – Youth participants took centre stage at a side event of the UN Commission on Population and Development where they joined international leaders and experts to discuss how young people can be...


ICPD Programme of Action


The ICPD in Cairo opened a new chapter by placing the needs and rights of the individual at the heart of development policies and programmes. Watch this video to see why the commitments made then are as important today as they were 20 years ago.