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Late Friday 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 the largest-ever generation of young people face — including HIV/AIDS, violence and unintended pregnancy — and reaffirms international agreements including the 1994 United Nations International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action (ICPD).
“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 ICPD conference. Shifting global health funding, a maturing HIV epidemic, and the rise of the largest-ever generation of youth have all impacted the current sexual and reproductive health and rights landscape. Similarly, several key global processes—a twenty year review of global sustainable development goals (Rio +20), a twenty-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.
The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) supported youth advocates from Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe to attend the CPD and advocate with their governments for supportive policies and programs, and helped facilitate a pre-conference strategy session. During the CPD, IPPF also held several educational events in conjunction with colleague organizations and governments, including panels on the importance of comprehensive sexuality education and youth rights.
“At this time of global uncertainty, there is no more important investment to be made,” said IPPF Director-General Tewodros Melesse. “Only healthy young people whose human rights are protected can be fully productive workers and effective participants in their country’s political processes. Only when young people are healthy and empowered can they contribute to building strong communities and vibrant nations. At IPPF, we are committed to working at the individual, community, regional and international levels to secure the health and rights of the largest-ever generation of youth.”
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.”