The Right to Family Planning

Box 10


The United Nations International Conference on Human Rights, held in Tehran in 1968, declared (Article 16): "Parents have a basic human right to determine freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children."

The World Population Plan of Action, adopted by the 1974 World Population Conference in Bucharest elaborated: "All couples and individuals have the basic right to decide freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children and to have information and means to do so; the responsibility of couples and individuals in the exercise of this right takes into account the needs of their living and future children, and their responsibilities towards the community." (Paragraph 14f) The 1984 International Conference on Population, held in Mexico City, reaffirmed this language.

Several articles of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women recognize the right to family planning, and CEDAW has further addressed the right in its general recommendations (see boxes in previous section).

Paragraph 7.12 of the 1994 ICPD Programme of Action states: "The aim of family-planning programmes must be to enable couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children and to have the information and means to do so and to ensure informed choices and make available a full range of safe and effective methods. . . . [I]nformed individuals everywhere can and will act responsibly in the light of their own needs and those of their families and communities. . . ."