279. Letter From President Reagan to the International Conference on Population1

I am grateful to Mexico, under the leadership of President Miguel de la Madrid Hurtado, for its gracious hospitality in hosting the International Conference on Population.

World leaders have come to recognize that the historically unprecedented growth of population now occurring in many countries affects economic and social development and presents a unique set of challenges and opportunities. It is for these reasons that the United States provides bilaterial and multilateral assistance in population programs.

Recognizing the seriousness of environmental and economic problems and their relationship to social realities, the United States places a priority upon technological advancement and economic expansion which hold out the hope of prosperity and stability for a rapidly changing world. That hope can be realized to the extent nations respond to problems, whether economic or ecological, in ways that respect and enhance the freedom and dignity of the individual.

We believe population programs can and must be truly voluntary, cognizant of the rights and responsibilities of individuals and families, and respectful of religious and cultural values. When they are, such programs can make an important contribution to economic and social development, to the health of mothers and children, and to the stability of the family and of society.

Our concern over the dimensions of demographic change is inseparable from a concern for the welfare of children—who are the ultimate resource of any society. Together we must strive for a world in which children are happy and healthy. They must have the opportunity to develop to their full mental and physical potential and, as young adults, be able to find productive work and to enjoy a decent and dignified existence.

I wish the participants in this Conference good counsel and inspiration in addressing these issues. I am confident they will fulfill their responsibility to produce recommendations for action by the international community which will improve the well-being of generations to come.

Ronald Reagan
  1. Source: Reagan Library, WHORM: Subject File PR014–08, case 204713. No classification marking.