It is ten years after the Cairo conference and it is such a disappointment that so little progress has been made in the actual status of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and rights as well as people's access to affordable and comprehensive SRH services. October 2006.
In 1994, at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Cairo, 179 countries adopted a forward-looking 20-year plan —the ICPD Programme of Action (PoA)— that seeks to balance the world’s people with its resources; ensure universal access to reproductive health care; and improve women’s status by promoting women’s social, economic and political participation in issues surrounding population and development. The starting point of the action plan was the premise that population size, growth and distribution are closely linked to development prospects, and that actions in one area reinforce actions in the other. In a rights-based approach, the Cairo consensus shifted priority to investing in people and broadening their opportunities, rather than reducing population growth. (From U.N.Non-Governmental Liaison Service)
Ten years on from the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), the review of the Programme of Action has taken place amidst a debate on the defence of sexual and reproductive rights.
Negotiations at the ICPD committed the countries to promoting over the following 20 years the Programme of Action they eventually agreed upon. The three most important objectives set for this period were: the reduction of infant and maternal mortality, universal access to education (especially for girls) and universal access to reproductive health and family planning services.
Compared with the previous Conferences (held in Bucharest and Mexico), in 1994 there was a qualitative leap in the agreements reached on economic growth, the rational use of natural resources, social equity and good governance.
The Conference also witnessed a transformation in the conceptualization of citizenship rights: the recognition given in the Programme of Action to rights that are enjoyed or denied within the home began gaining ground within the framework conception of human rights. The document also recommended that post-abortion counselling, education and family planning services “should be offered promptly to help to avoid repeat abortions”, and that States “should consider revising laws that criminalize women who have illegal abortions”.
Different clauses of the Plan for Action provide a definition of reproductive rights and exhort governments to regard unsafe abortion as a serious public health concern, improve family-planning services to avoid abortions, and provide attention and counselling to women who have unplanned pregnancies; it also recommends that any measures and changes related to abortion within the health system be addressed at national and local level according to national legislative process and states that “in all cases, women should have access to quality services for the management of complications arising from abortion. Post abortion counselling, education and family-planning services should be offered promptly, which will also help to avoid repeat abortions”, and that States “should consider revising laws that criminalize women who have illegal abortions”.
Both at the Conference and in the Cairo +5 review process women’s organizations and global networks played a crucial role in securing the agreements.
CAIRO +10 AND THE GLOBAL CONTEXT
The Programmes of Action that came out of Cairo and Beijing can be regarded as initial normative ethical frameworks. They are texts reached by consensus among the international community (with reservations expressed by some countries like the Vatican and Islamic countries) that represent a moral obligation on the signatory States.
Ten years on from the Beijing and Cairo Conferences the global situation has grown even more complex with the emergence of new voices and the resurgence of old ones (conservatism, fanaticism, fundamentalisms, etc.) against sexual and reproductive rights, against human rights. After the advance represented by the process of consensus achieved at the Conferences in the 1990s, opposition forces are now emerging that are trying to reverse the gains made, with the Bush Administration and the Catholic Church leading a declared war on sexual and reproductive rights all over the world, with support from other allies.
Faced with this global panorama it might seem that the context is not a favourable one in which to open up a discussion on issues that have already been agreed on and committed to at international level. The regional discussions offer a more positive-looking context, as shown by the Fifth Asian and Pacific Population Conference and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC)’s Open-ended Meeting of the Presiding Officers of its Sessional Ad Hoc Committee on Population and Development, in which thirty-seven countries approved by acclamation a statement that reaffirms the Cairo consensus.
At the Asian and Pacific Conference, the US delegation opposed the use of the terms “reproductive health services” and “reproductive rights”, alleging that such terms “promote abortion” and declaring that “the United States supports the sanctity of life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death”. Insisting on a policy of “simple abstinence”, it also tried to eliminate all references to “condom use” as a viable way of preventing HIV infection. In the end, the US position was defeated by 32 votes against 1. This conference was the first in a series of regional meetings that are taking place in the world in 2004.
The 10th Anniversary of ICPD
Regional meetings and activities on ICPD +10 have been planned for 2004, to provide a regional perspective and review at the halfway mark of the ICPD Programme of Action (PoA). The sexual and reproductive health and rights community felt strongly that ICPD +10 should not only be marked by one international NGO-led meeting (the Global Roundtable) but rather that a series of regional and some national events and meetings should both proceed and follow the key ICPD +10 international events, in order to provide input to the Global Roundtable, as well as follow-up at the regional level to the outcomes of the Global Roundtable and the UN Regional Economic Commission meetings on ICPD, taking us into 2005.
The range of regional meetings will gather grassroots NGOs and regional organizations to take stock of progress, report back on experience, identify regional priorities and develop future strategies for implementing ICPD. These meetings, as important events in themselves, will also compliment, reflect and reinforce the international activities for ICPD +10 (see Countdown 2015: sexual and reproductive health and rights for all).
Civil society organisations (CSO) and non-government organisations (NGO) world-wide are arranging various activities to mark the 10th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD at Ten) in 2004.
To mark the tenth anniversary of the Cairo conference, the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (RFSU) has published this ICPD guide. The guide is for all those wanting to better acquaint themselves with the political debate surrounding sexual and reproductive health and rights. It is a useful tool for those who negotiate and advocate on these issues. The reader is provided with a general picture of the PoA, an explanation of controversial terms, "the opposition", political arguments, and a summary of international treaties and documents relevant to our efforts to reinforce sexual and reproductive health and rights as a fundamental human right. Pdf format.
The watershed International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), held in Cairo in 1994, heralded a new approach to population and development. Governments and the international community recognized that improving the status of women and guaranteeing human rights to all citizens are critical to improving the human condition. Within this framework, they made a commitment to advance the reproductive health and rights of the world's women, pledging to make basic reproductive health services available to all by 2015.
Every year, close to 20 million women resort to unsafe abortions; 68,000 of them die and 5 million more are temporarily or permanently disabled. Based on these figures, well over half a million women have died from the complications of unsafe abortions since the ICPD. Unsafe abortions, and the deaths and injuries they cause, however, are almost entirely preventable. When performed by a skilled provider under safe conditions and with modern methods, abortion has been recognized by the World Health Organization as one of the safest medical procedures. Pdf format.
The Latin American and Caribbean Women's Health Network participated actively in the preparation for and development of the United Nations International Conference on Population and Development, ICPD (Cairo, 1994). As members of civil society, LACWHN member groups have also taken up the task of following up and monitoring the implementation of the ICPD agreements, signed by some 180 countries.
At regional meeting to affirm International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) consensus, the United States is expected to continue pressuring Latin American nations to deny women’s reproductive rights. Political, economic and social factors– notably the influence of conservative religious forces– have impeded Latin American countries’ progress in implementing the historic Programme of Action from the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo, Egypt. Puerto Rico, June 2004.
Call for Action 2004: in commemoration of the International Day of Action for Women’s Health in May 28, the Latin American and Caribbean Women’s Health Network has launched a new call for action in the context of the Campaign for the Exercise of Sexual and Reproductive Rights. This demand reaffirms the agreements from the International Conference on Population and Development and asserts the Programme of Action’s significance for promoting women’s rights.
Of the countries participating in the open-ended meeting of the Presiding Officers of the sessional Ad Hoc Committee on Population and Development of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, gathered in Santiago, Chile, on 10 and 11 March 2004.
In Santiago, Chile, March 10-11, 2004, the Open-ended Meeting of the Presiding Officers of the ECLAC Sessional Ad Hoc Committee on Population and Development examined the region's progress in applying the ICPD Programme of Action.
In March 2004, on the tenth anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Cairo in 1994, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) organized an Open-ended Meeting of the Presiding Officers of its Sessional Ad Hoc Committee on Population and Development, in Santiago, Chile, in which thirty-seven countries approved by acclamation a statement that reaffirms the Cairo consensus.
In this interview, Ximena Machicao evaluates the results of the Open-ended Meeting of the Presiding Officers of the ECLAC Sessional Ad Hoc Committee on Population and Development, and suggests strategies for future efforts.
Ten years after a landmark United Nations population conference in Cairo, Egypt, African women still face elevated risks of dying from pregnancy-related causes, with unsafe abortion posing a particularly dangerous threat. June 7, 2004.
Key actions for the further implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development. Paragraphs 1, 3, y 10 (Preamble), 15, 16 y 18 (population and development concerns), 21, 22 y 23 (changing age structure and ageing of the population), 27 y 29 (international migration), 33 (internal migration), 34 y 35 (population, development and education), 37 (data systems, including indicators), 39, 40, 43, 44, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50 y 51 (gender equality, equity and empowerment of women), 52, 54, 59, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69 y 70 (reproductive health, reducing maternal mortality and morbidity, including family planning and sexual health), 73, 81 y 83 (adolescents) y 95 (mobilizing resources). Julio 1999. Formato pdf.
In the first half of 1999, the United Nations assessed what has been achieved by way of implementing the recommendations of the International Conference on Population and Development-Cairo 1994. The process is known as Cairo+5 and it started February of that year in The Hague, where NGO and youth fora preceded an initial governmental meeting. By Sonia Correa; Gita Sen.
At the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), held in Cairo in 1994, 179 countries adopted a Programme of Action (PoA), a forward-looking 20-year plan that established quantitative goals, which include promoting women’s social, economic and political participation, as well as securing reproductive health and rights. The first five-year review of the implementation of the PoA was conducted by the General Assembly in 1999. This year—the 10th anniversary of the ICPD—will also mark the mid-point of the 20-year Programme.
State of World Population 2004 finds that nearly all developing countries report they have incorporated population concerns in their development and poverty-reduction strategies; many have established laws and policies to protect women’s and girls’
rights; and many have begun to integrate reproductive health services into primary health care. NGOs are increasingly active
in providing reproductive health services and in advocacy for implementing the PoA. However, State of World Population 2004
warns that much more must be done to ensure reproductive health and rights, particularly among adolescents; promote safe
motherhood; and stem the spread of HIV/AIDS. September 2004, pdf format.
The report entitled "The promise of equality: gender equity, reproductive health and the MDGs" calls upon world leaders to fulfil promises made to the world’s women and young people in order to meet poverty reduction goals agreed to at the 2000 Millennium Summit and reaffirmed by last month’s World Summit in New York. Investing in women and young people - who constitute the majority of the world’s population — will accelerate long-term development. Failure to do so may entrench poverty for generations to come. October 2005.
The Bush administration has all but abandoned the central principles of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), both at home and abroad. Given this reality, it is tempting for the U.S. global reproductive rights community to wring its collective hands, cross its fingers, and wait for better days. By Jodi L. Jacobson, September 15, 2004.
An NGO conference on reproductive health held in London from 31 August to 2 September affirmed its faith in a world "where women and girls do not die in childbirth and pregnancy; where they have access to safe and legal abortion; and where women and men can decide freely and responsibly whether and when to have children."
More than 700 professionals in the health field from 107 countries will gather in London to push forward a delivery of reproductive health services that has been slowing down if not stalling. August 2004.
In 2004 the ICPD+10 process once again will analyze the degree to which the ICPD agreements are being transformed into concrete improvements in people’s daily lives both in regards to health as well as general living and working conditions, education, and political and social participation.
The current political conjuncture of aggressive fundamentalism and militarism presents serious risks to women's human rights worldwide. DAWN (Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era) like a number of other organizations, is concerned about the possibility of setbacks to the gains made for women's human rights during and in relation to the UN conferences of the 1990s.
While in Uruguay for a meeting on DAWN’s research project on "Health sector reform, maternal mortality and abortion: a global policy research effort", Sonia Correa, DAWN Research Coordinator for sexual and reproductive health and rights, spoke at Montevideo City Hall on 20 May 2003.
In January 2001, the Bush Administration re-instated the rule to globally obstruct the population programme of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This policy is designed to limit the activities of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that receive family-planning aid, prohibiting them from using such funds to provide legal abortion services -even if they are not supplied by the United States-, advising women on abortion, or referring them to health practitioners for safe and legal abortions -even when their life or health is at risk-, or lobbying governments to revise restrictive abortion laws. By Ximena Machicao B. and Elizabeth Salguero C.
Findings from NGO country-monitoring studies in Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines and Pakistan
reveal that despite agreements to achieve the clear objectives and strategies outlined in the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Programme of Action (PoA), governments have not yet been successful in implementing the majority of actions promised at that landmark conference, including access to safe abortion. October 2006.
In an unprecedented show of unity, Asia and Pacific countries approved a document that reaffirms the ICPD Programme of Action, successfully fending off obstructions posed by the United States. Reports by Gigi Francisco and Gita Sen. Pdf format.
These chapters of the Programme of Action define reproductive rights and call on governments to regard unsafe abortions as a major public health concern, improve family planning services to avoid abortions, provide health care and guidance for women who have unwanted pregnancies, and urge the implementation of policies and changes in the approach to abortion on a national and local level, in accordance with national legal systems, declaring that 'in all cases women must have access to quality services to manage complications arising from abortions. Post-abortion counseling, education and family planning services should be offered promptly, helping women to avoid repeat abortions'; also asserting the need 'to revise the laws that penalize women who have illegal abortions'.
Although the idea of family planning was more widely accepted in Mexico, in comparison to what had been agreed upon in Bucharest ten years earlier, Ronald Reagan's Government implemented what was called the "Mexican American
Policy". In the context of the Conference on Population, this policy was pursued by cutting back funding to the United Nations Population Fund
(UNPFA) and immediately obstructed the use of language referring to abortion
in the Conference resolutions (pdf format).