Population Politics and Human Rights

6th Berlin Roundtables on Transnationality, February 14-20, 2007

In preparation of the conference, an international essay context was organized in summer 2006 to address the interrelationship between demographic politics, migration and human rights.  The central question of the contest was: Can political intervention to family planning and fertility behaviour be brought into harmony – at global, national and regional levels – with human rights, including the right to reproductive health, to self-determination, to freedom of movement and residence within and across the borders of the state, to a secure existence and social protection? In response to the call for papers, the Irmgard Coninx Foundation received 154 applications from nationals of more than 40 countries.

Out of these papers, the Foundation selected 52 scholars and human rights activists to participate in three workshops accompanied by public lectures and panel discussions held at the Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB) and the Humboldt-University Berlin. During the workshop sessions and panel discussions, the participants vigorously discussed questions of accessibility and quality of reproductive medicine; issues of state intervention into family planning by means of pro- or anti-natalistic policies; family and social policies and the interdependence of demographics, economic development, biopolitics and migration.

After the workshop sessions, an international jury awarded the Irmgard Coninx Research Grant to three participants - a stipend to be used for a three-months research stay in Berlin at the WZB and the Humboldt-University. The Jury consisted of Prof. Susanne Baer (Law, Humboldt-University), Prof. Caroline Bledsoe (Anthropology, Northwestern University, Chicago), Prof. Michael Bommes (Sociology, University Osnabrück / Institute for Migration Research and Intercultural Studies), Prof. Maja K. Eriksson (Law, University of Uppsala), Prof. Susan Greenhalgh (Anthropology, University of California, Irvine), Prof. Shalini Randeria (Social Anthropology, University of Zurich / WZB), Prof. emer. Ingo Richter (Law, Irmgard Coninx Foundation), and Prof. Chiara Saraceno (Sociology, University of Turin / WZB