Background on Key International Agreements and Declarations

Resource date: 2000

The following list briefly describes, and provides links to, major international agreements and declarations that guide UNFPA’s work. 

The work of UNFPA is guided by the Programme of Action (POA) that was endorsed by about 179 countries in Cairo at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). The Conference shifted the emphasis of population planning from reaching demographic targets to promoting human rights and sustainable development, changing the focus from numbers to people.

A 1999 review of progress since the Cairo Conference (ICPD + 5) included reports on national implementation efforts, global expert meetings and an international forum at The Hague, organized by UNFPA. It culminated in a special session of the United Nations General Assembly that identified Key Actions for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Developmentand set new benchmarks for measuring progress towards ICPD goals.

The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action was adopted at the September 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women (FWCW) by representatives from 189 countries. The Platform reflects a new international commitment to the goals of equality, development and peace for all women everywhere. It builds on commitments made during the United Nations Decade for Women, 1976-1985 and on related commitments made in the cycle of United Nations global conferences held in the 1990s. 

Beijing + 5 was a Special Session of the General Assembly entitled "Women: 2000: Gender Equality, Development and Peace for the Twenty-First Century” that took place in June 2000 at UN Headquarters in New York. At that session, governments reaffirmed their commitment to the goals of the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing and also considered future actions and initiatives for the year 2000 and beyond.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is the most widely and rapidly ratified human rights treaty in history. It was drafted over the course of 10 years (1979-1989) with the input of representatives from all societies, all religions and all cultures. Ratification formally binds governments to meet the obligations and responsibilities outlined in the Convention. 

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is an international bill of rights for women. General Assembly adopted the Convention in December 1979. The treaty came into force on 3 September 1981. As of December 1998, 163 countries -- more than two-thirds of the members of the United Nations -- are party to the Convention and an additional 4 have signed the treaty.

The United Nations Millennium Declaration was unanimously adopted at the conclusion of the Millennium Summit, the first General Assembly of the century and the largest-ever gathering of world leaders. It contains a statement of values, principles and objectives for the international agenda for the twenty-first century, and sets deadlines for many collective actions.