This past July, more than 300 participants representing governments, civil society organizations, youth networks, United Nations (UN) agencies, and human rights experts and defenders converged in the Netherlands for the International Conference on Human Rights: ICPD Beyond 2014. Hosted by the Government of The Netherlands, in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, attendees addressed the links between human rights, equality, accountability, and population and development.
The conference participants discussed key achievements, barriers, and challenges to realizing the goal of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) to provide universal access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and protect and fulfill human rights, and issued a set of recommendations to meet unfulfilled ICPD Programme of Action commitments. Three action areas were outlined to accelerate progress towards equality, quality of care, and accountability:
- Gender equality is a prerequisite for any advancement of human rights and is a significant human rights and development challenge. Women and girls living in poverty often face multiple forms of discrimination and barriers to accessing SRH services, information, and education that must be addressed in policy and programs.
- Services must be available, accessible, affordable, acceptable, and of good quality, as well as being available to all individuals without discrimination, coercion, or violence. States must remove legal and policy barriers to SRH services, provide comprehensive sexuality education for all young people, ensure that a range of contraceptive methods are available, and ensure that SRH services are integrated.
- Ensuring accountability requires strong national leadership and an enabling environment for civil society where individuals have the freedom and ability to exercise autonomy and choice. States have an obligation to promote, protect, and fulfill human rights and must enact policies and programs with clear goals and funding to reach them, as well as prevent human rights violations and ensure all victims’ right to effective remedy and reparations.
In her closing reflections, conference chair and Dutch Special Ambassador for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and HIV/AIDS Marijke Wijnroks stressed that sexual and reproductive rights are universal human rights, regardless of race, sex, ethnicity, religion, or political affiliation, and that access to sexual and reproductive health and rights must be at the heart of the global development agenda. Not only that, but all states have an obligation to ensure these rights, and all duty-bearers must respect individuals’ inherent dignity and rights. “This should result in enhancing the autonomy and dignity of individuals,” said Wijnroks.
We want to hear from you!
- What proven or promising approaches can be used to increase programs’ and states’ accountability for promoting, protecting, and fulfilling sexual and reproductive rights?
- How can SRH/family planning managers engage with and empower individuals to participate in program planning and monitoring?
- What legal and policy barriers must be lifted to ensure that SRH information and services are available to all population groups, without discrimination, barriers, or coercion?
- How can men and boys be constructively engaged in promoting and realizing gender equality?