ISTANBUL—More than 400 delegates, including 200 parliamentarians, from more than 110 countries from around the world started a meeting in Istanbul on 24 May to renew their commitment to the 1994 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development. The 2012 International Parliamentarians’ Conference on the Implementation of the ICPD Programme of Actions is being organized by UNFPA and the European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development, under the auspices of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey.
The opening ceremony on 24 May featured welcoming remarks by Member of the Turkish Grand National Assembly Öznur Çalik, who is also Chair of the Turkish Parliamentary Group on Population and Development. Saying that parliamentarians shared an immense responsibility in ensuring that their countries delivered on the promises they have made in 1994 in Cairo, Ms. Çalik assured participants of her government’s commitment to achieving these goals. The First Vice-Speaker of the Parliament of Georgia and President of the European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development, George Tsereteli, then underscored the importance of educating young people and ensuring universal access to reproductive health and family planning.
The keynote speaker of the day, Cemil Çiçek, Speaker of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, re-asserted his country’s collaborative vision for development, based on forging global and regional alliances, and urged lawmakers to develop fair and inclusive growth models for the 21st Century.
He was followed by UNFPA Executive Director, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, who highlighted parliamentarians’ role in saving women’s lives and improving those young people everywhere. “If you have to get to the people,” he said, “you have to talk to the parliamentarians, because they represent the people.”
The opening session also included United Sates Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney – who referred to ICPD as the International Consensus on Population and Development –Christian Friis Bach, Danish Minister for Development Cooperation, and Cevdet Yılmaz, the Turkish Minister for Development, who discussed the importance of reproductive health and rights from their countries’ perspectives. The meeting is scheduled to end on Friday, 25 May.