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This post originally appeared on the Women Deliver website on April 30th, 2012 and can be accessed here.
Late Friday, 27 April 2012, at the 45th Session of the United Nations Commission on Population and Development (CPD), member states issued a bold resolution in support of young people’s sexual and reproductive health and human rights.
This victory comes on the heels of a UNICEF report released this week highlighting the challenges that the largest-ever generation of young people face—including HIV/AIDS, violence, and unintended pregnancy—and reaffirms long-standing international agreements including the 1994 United Nations International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action.
“This CPD is one of the most important events to take place – to talk about young people, for young people and with young people,” said Kgomotso Papo, speaking on behalf of the South African Delegation during the closing plenary. “We must remove all barriers that compromise the health, well-being and development of youth; and ensure the right of every individual to autonomous decision-making in regards to their bodies, their health and their sexual relationships. On these points, there can be no compromise.”
Key points of the final resolution include:
- The right of young people to decide on all matters related to their sexuality
- Access to sexual and reproductive health services, including safe abortion where legal, that respect confidentiality and do not discriminate
- The right of youth to comprehensive sexuality education
- Protection and promotion of young people’s right to control their sexuality free from violence, discrimination and coercion
Much has changed since the landmark International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in 1994. Shifting global health funding, a maturing HIV epidemic, and the rise of the largest-ever generation of youth have all affected the current sexual and reproductive health and rights landscape. Similarly, several key global processes—a 20-year review of global sustainable development goals (Rio+20), a 20-year review of progress towards achieving the Cairo Programme of Action (ICPD+20), and a review of the Millennium Development Goals—are happening within the next few years, all with implications on the future of the global sexual and reproductive health and rights agenda.
“At this time of global uncertainty, there is no more important investment to be made,” said Janna Oberdorf, Director of Communications at Women Deliver. “Only healthy young people whose human rights are protected can be fully productive workers and effective participants in their country’s political processes. When young people are healthy and empowered, they can contribute to building strong communities and vibrant nations.”
In closing the session, Commission Chairperson Ambassador Hasan Kleib (Indonesia) called on member states to realize these agreements at the national level, stating that “we now have to walk the walk.”
This is an excerpt from a post written by Suzanne Ehlers, president of Population Action International; the post originally posted on the Huffington Post Impact blog. The original post can be accessed here.
Next week, I head to the United Nations to attend the 45th session of the Commission on Population and Development (CPD). The Commission’s work is to “monitor, review and assess the implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action at the national, regional and international levels.”
The 2012 CPD outcome document will serve as a foundation for major upcoming international negotiations on sustainable development and population, so we’ve deemed it a strategic investment of time and energy. We’ll travel the 95-North corridor later this week and monitor the proceedings on behalf of the world’s young people in particular, because this year’s theme is “Adolescents and Youth.”
Sounds simple, but it’s a tinderbox.
The number of adolescents and young people in the world today is at an all-time high. Along with food, water and safe shelter, this huge share of the world’s population needs access to contraception and a range of sexual and reproductive health services.
There will be many at the CPD who to choose to deny that young people are sexually active. These same deniers are so out of touch with the reality of young people that they don’t consider their human rights. It’s as if they don’t have rights, or that those rights aren’t under threat. They equate access to comprehensive sexuality education with a rise in sexual activity, when sex ed actually delays sexual initiation.
These deniers also conflate the basic tenets of good health care — such as privacy, confidentiality, and informed consent — with undermining cultural, religious and familial values. The opposite is true. Young people are sophisticated enough to explore and define their values, and make informed decisions that help safeguard their well-being.
As we head into a week of tense negotiations, let’s huddle to make sure our offensive game is primed and ready:
- We will be prepared to respond to emotionally-charged untruths about young people and their vulnerabilities with emotionally-charged facts and strong evidence.
- We will maximize a unique and isolated circumstance (UN conference rooms) for the benefit of young people around the world, whose lives literally depend on the success of our efforts.
- We will hold the line and reaffirm past commitments, but we will also seek to advance a visionary agenda for the full realization of young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights.
To read more of this post, please click here.
More posts on the CPD coming soon! Look for “Why Are Youth Voices Important at CPD?” this week, as well as an overview of the key points from the United Nations Landmark Resolution on Adolescents and Youth next week.