ISTANBUL—The Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) ended today after adopting the Istanbul Programme of Action which lists population, youth development, gender equality and women’s empowerment among LDCs’ priority action areas. The summit also adopted a political declaration.
The three issues fall under the human and social development category of the eight priority action areas adopted today. UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, has been urging urgent action on youth and women, including through strategic engagements and statements by its Executive Director, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin.
“As we look to the future, one thing is clear: Investing in the health and rights of women and young people is not an expenditure,” according to his address to the Summit’s plenary. “It is an investment in a nation’s productive capacity and prosperity. It is an investment in our collective future.” The speech was delivered by the Director of UNFPA’s Information and External Relations Division, Safiye Cagar on behalf of Dr. Osotimehin.
In addition to human and social development, the 49-page Istanbul Programme’s seven other action priorities are: productive capacity; agriculture, food security and rural development; trade; commodities; multiple crises; financial resources; and good governance at all levels. Arabic l Chinese l French l Russian l Spanish
“Least developed countries’ greatest assets are their women, men and children, whose potential as both agents and beneficiaries of development must be fully realized,” the Istanbul Programme declares, introducing the action priorities on human and social development, which cover population, youth and women.
Following are some of the Istanbul Programme’s declarations and provisions on population , youth and women:
1-- Regarding population and primary health, the Programme says: “Efforts at development of human capacities in least developed countries have been affected by high incidence of poverty, mass unemployment, high population growth rates, poor health and nutrition outcomes.” It then provides that policy measures should pursue the following goals and targets:
o “Achieve targets under Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 by 2015 and, building on these, further significantly reduce the infant, under-five and maternal mortality rates and child under-nutrition by 2020;
o “Provide universal access to reproductive health by 2015, including integrating family planning, sexual health and health-care services in national strategies and programmes;
o “Achieve targets under Millennium Development Goal 6 by 2015 and, building on this, further reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS and the incidence of malaria and other major diseases.”
Actions by the LDCs and their development partners will include:
LDCs are to--
* “Take steps to realize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, including sexual and reproductive health;
*“Build on effective, multisectoral and integrated approaches for the provision of universal access to reproductive health, including integrating family planning, sexual health and health-care services in national strategies and programmes;
*“Incorporate in their national development strategies and policies human resource development and planning for population dynamics;
*“Continue implementing national health development plans, highlighting priority actions to achieve the health-related Millennium Development Goals (4, 5 and 6).”
Development partners are to--
* “Provide financial and technical support for least developed countries to strengthen their national health systems.”
2-- On youth development, the Programme says: “Large youth populations are an asset for least developed countries, and should have the opportunity to participate fully in economic, social and political life. Youth populations’ potential should be maximized.” It says policy measures will pursue the following goals:
o “Strive to ensure the full and effective participation of youth in the life of society and in decision-making processes;
o “Build the educational and skills capacity of youth and achieve full and productive employment and decent work;
o “Enhance youth participation in the economy through improving access to vocational education, volunteering and employment.”
LDCs are to--
o "Develop policies and programmes for supporting youth access to secondary and higher education, vocational training and productive employment, and health-care services, especially to young women and girls."
3-- On gender equality and empowerment of women , the Programme declares: “Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls are central to achieving better development outcomes, including all the internationally agreed development goals as well as the Millennium Development Goals….Gender equality and empowerment of women are essential to make progress towards social and human development and eradication of poverty in least developed countries.” The Programme says policy measures on women’s empowerment will pursue the following goals:
o “Achieve equal access of women and girls to education, basic services, health care, economic opportunities, and decision-making at all levels;
o “Take steps to realize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, including sexual and reproductive health;
o “Accelerate efforts to promote women’s rights and gender equality, including women with disabilities.”
Actions by the LDCs and their partners will include:
LDCs are to--
*“Establish and continue implementing national development plans to take account of the needs of women and girls and actively commit to achieve all the Millennium Development Goals, particularly 3, 4 and 5;
*“Provide women and girls with full access to education and training, basic services, health care and economic opportunities, including ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, financial services and social protection;
*“Welcoming the Secretary-General’s Global Strategy on Women’s and Children’s Health, as well as other national, regional and international initiatives in this regard, strengthen support to maternal health and increase access to family planning resources for women, men and young people;
*“Take resolute action against violence, abuse and discrimination to ensure that women and girls have the full enjoyment of all human rights and can attain the highest living standards possible and equal participation in the economic, social and political life of their communities.”
In the 18-paragraph Istanbul Declaration they also adopted by consensus, LDC Summiteers underlined: “that gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls are central to achieving better development outcomes including all internationally agreed development goals as well as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and are essential to making progress towards social and human development and eradication of poverty in LDCs.”
United Nations conferences on the least developed countries are held after 10 years. The first and the second were both held in Paris in September 1981 and September 1990, respectively. The third was held in Brussels in May 2001.