The 50th Session of Commission on Population and Development (CPD) on the theme, “Changing Population Age Structures and Sustainable Development”, took place from 3-7 April, 2017 at UN Headquarters in New York. After weeks of strenuous negotiations, the session ended without an outcome document and with a summary of deliberations by the Chair.
The decision was made after weeks of informal and formal negotiations and a draft text which was put forward by the Chair. However, there were consistent disagreements on several issues including sexual and reproductive health and rights, families, and comprehensive sexuality education. The draft text emphasised that population and development, gender equality and women’s empowerment, and the promotion and protection of the full enjoyment of all human rights, especially sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, are essential for sustainable development. It also reaffirmed to strive to provide young people with a nurturing environment for the full realisation of their rights and capabilities and to help member states to benefit the demographic dividend by investing in policies and programmes that ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and quality education.
However, after an exchange between the representatives of multiple regional blocs, including US, there was no consensus on the draft which was withdrawn by the Chair. Instead of a resolution, the session ended with a Chair’s summary.
We express our deep regrets on the lack of an outcome document for the 50th Session of CPD. The International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action (ICPD PoA) remains the most comprehensive negotiated action document on many aspects of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and reproductive rights (RR). At its 20-year review, all governments agreed that the agenda should be continued until it is fully achieved, yet many member states were disputing over references to SRH and RR. These non-negotiable population issues are inalienably people’s rights. And the Commission’s failure to reach agreement on these issues – which should be based solely on scientific evidence – casts a shadow on future success of intergovernmental negotiations. It was also disappointing to note that there were huge gaps between what member states were implementing at national level and what they were advocating for at UN; the country statements were far from the actual realities and programmes and development needs at grassroots level.
We hope subsequent CPD sessions uphold the ICPD PoA and further the agenda by protecting and fulfilling universal access to SRHR, including full range of SRH information and services, access to full range of safe, effective and affordable contraceptive services, safe and legal abortion services, comprehensive sexuality education and youth friendly health services for young people, and gender equality and empowerment of women and girls, SOGI, taking into account the lived realities of people and the emerging population and development priorities.
ARROW is deeply committed to continuing to work towards a just, equal, and equitable world together with member states, UN agencies, and civil society organisations.