An international consensus affirms that young people are entitled to exercise human rights, as enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) and the ICPD. These agreements provide a strong basis for programmes addressing adolescent sexual and reproductive health.
Increasingly, as in other areas of development, programme planners in this field are adopting a rights-based approach that stresses states’ obligations as well as community and family duties to enable children and youth to enjoy their rights.
A rights-based approach to development recognizes that young people become empowered to act on their own behalf and enjoy their human rights as they gain access to relevant information, skills and opportunities. For adolescents, this implies the adoption of measures to remove barriers to the realization of their reproductive health and rights, to prevent and punish rights violations and to take concrete measures to achieve rights.
UNFPA focuses on ensuring that adolescent reproductive health and rights are included in national agendas and translated into policies and actions with tangible outcomes. Although the subject of adolescent reproductive health is sensitive in many countries, UNFPA uses culturally sensitive approaches to gain support for providing young people with the resources they need to protect their right to health.
The Fund advocates for the right of adolescents to education, information and counselling and supports projects in every region that foster a successful transition to adulthood by building skills and improving options. Priority is given to reaching the most vulnerable – including those living in poverty or other harsh circumstances, married youth, youth living with HIV or orphaned by AIDS, and street children.
Effective youth participation is also central to UNFPA’s rights-based youth programming.