Control of Population
Abstract: The history of the population control movement is one replete with controversies and where narratives about coercive population control policies and programs abound. Questionable practices such as the wide sterilization campaigns as took place in India during its state of emergency period in the 1970s or the use of contraceptives in developing world already banned from Western markets contributed in casting a shadow over the population control movement for years. It is in this context that we need to understand the Cairo International conference on Population and Development of 1994, which, many claimed was an important paradigm shift that served to re-define the population issue and change the course of the population debate. The Program of Action firmly established the primacy of human welfare needs over a “simple” concern with demographic targets and goals. For activists and commentators alike, the Cairo conference offered the international population movement a much needed escape from its troubled past. However, this has led to the misconceived assumption that the debate on overpopulation is now “dead and buried”. Hence, some authors argue that the public and global interest in the issue of overpopulation has for some time been on decline (Brigham, 2012). The current paper argues that through a closer attention to the language and discourse on population contained within a selected number of pages of the Program of Action, it is important to see the Program of Action not as a complete break from the population control movement but as a continuation of the same discourse albeit in a changed political context.
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