This paper examines the influence of population control ideology on the draft plan for the UN Cairo Conference on Population and Development. It is argued that this draft plan can only be fully understood in the context of the recent history of the population control movement and of the empirical reality of population control in particular countries. The paper focuses on the origins of the ideology of population control in the eugenics movement initially, and more recently in organisations such as International Planned Parenthood Federation. The role of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), in promoting an incremental approach towards the wider acceptance of population control since the first intergovernmental conference on population in Bucharest in 1974, is outlined. Despite the serious loss of credibility for the UN, through the association of the UNFPA with the Chinese population control programme - the most coercive programme of its type in history - the UN in the draft plan for Cairo continues to promote the ideology of population control. This paper argues for the need to develop a more positive model of development, which acknowledges the complementarity between the lack of development of poorer countries and their potential for significant progress, and the overdevelopment of industrialised regions, whose future growth is increasingly based on intense competition for shrinking markets.