6 August 2001
Symposium on Global Review of 2000 Round of
Population and Housing Censuses:
Mid-Decade Assessment and Future Prospects
Department of Economic and Social Affairs
United Nations Secretariat
New York, 7-10 August 2001
Statement from the United Nations Population Division *
1. From its earliest years, the United Nations recognized the vital importance of population and housing censuses. At the very first session of the Population Commission, held in Lake Success, New York, in February 1947, the Secretary-General, in his report to the Commission (E/CN.9/3, 4 Feb 1947), stated that:
“Nearly every branch of the Organization and of the specialized agencies requires prompt and reliable information on the number and characteristics of people in different parts of the world and on the manner in which their numbers are changing by birth, death and migration. We need accurate human accounting.”
2. In 1949, the United Nations looked forward to the time “when the whole world population will be covered by accurate, up-to-date statistics, as a consequence of a universal awareness of the importance of this information for the welfare of the people” (ST/SOA/SER.A/3, Dec 1949).
3. Fifty years later, considerable progress has been achieved. Nevertheless, a great deal remains to be done. As concluded in the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), adopted in Cairo in 1994, “While there have been marked improvements in the availability of population and related development data …, many gaps remain with regard to the quality and coverage of baseline information” (ST/ESA/SER.A/149, 1995). On this basis, the ICPD Programme of Action set objectives “to establish a factual basis” for actions, “to strengthen national capacity to seek new information and meet the need for basic data collection, analysis and dissemination”, and to “ensure political commitment to … the need for data collection on a regular basis and the analysis, dissemination and full utilization of data”.
4. In this regard, the Population Division would like to highlight a number of issues.
5. We offer our congratulations to our colleagues in the Statistics Division/DESA for having organized this essential symposium and are grateful for being invited to participate.
* This document was reproduced without formal editing.
United Nations Population Division (UNPD), New York. The views expressed in the paper are those of the author and do not imply the expression of any opinion on the part of the United Nations Secretariat.