ADDIS ABABA — Lawmakers from 115 countries reaffirmed their support today to the principles and goals of the 1994 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and underlined the indispensable role of its Programme of Action in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). They also committed to supporting accessible and affordable health services that promote family planning, HIV prevention and the health and well-being of women and girls.
At the fourth global parliamentarians’ conference on population and development, held here on 27-28 October, some 400 legislators and ministers discussed lawmakers’ responsibilities in implementing the ICPD action plan that called for universal access to reproductive health and a sharp reduction in maternal deaths by 2015.
In observing the 15th anniversary of the Cairo mandate, delegates agreed that “some progress has been made” in realizing its objectives, “but in spite of national efforts and international partnerships,” progress in many countries has been slow. “The urgency to act,” they noted, “has been heightened by conflicts, foreign occupation and emerging issues, including climate change, demographic challenges, environmental degradation, and the food and financial crises.”
“We are gathered here to advance the visionary and holistic ICPD Programme of Action, which recognized the diversity of the 179 governments participating in the conference, taking into consideration the diverse cultural values and religious beliefs that are not against human rights, as agreed in ICPD,” said Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, Executive Director of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, in opening the conference. “We are here to ensure that greater progress is made to advance human rights, including the right to sexual and reproductive health, and to hold governments accountable.”
Participants unanimously adopted the Addis Ababa Statement of Commitment, in which they pledged to exercise their oversight responsibilities to break the silence around gender discrimination and to promote sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights. They expressed their determination to increase budget allocations to at least 10 per cent of national budgets and development assistance budgets for population assistance, and to review laws and practices that still restrict access to sexual and reproductive health. They also committed to concrete and systematic actions to implement the ICPD Programme of Action, including empowering young people, strengthening health systems and addressing climate change and emerging population issues.
The Parliament of Ethiopia hosted the meeting at the United Nations Conference Centre here. The event was organized by the Forum of African and Arab Parliamentarians on Population and Development (FAAPPD) and UNFPA, along with European, Asian, and Inter-American parliamentarian groups.
The event also featured the announcement by Bert Koenders, Minister for Development Cooperation of the Netherlands, of the Addis Call to Urgent Action for Maternal Health that was adopted by the High-Level Meeting on Maternal Health – MDG5 the day before. Organized by the Netherlands and UNFPA, the event aimed at pushing maternal health higher on the political agenda and increasing political and financial commitment for it at the country level.
The Addis Ababa gathering followed three similar global conferences in Bangkok in 2006, Strasbourg in 2004 and Ottawa in 2002.
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