The ICPD Beyond 2014 International Conference on Human Rights took place in The Netherlands from 7-10 July 2013. The Conference is the second thematic conference, following the ICPD Beyond 2014 Global Youth Forum (which took place in Indonesia, in December 2012), to take place within the scope of the ongoing review of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD PoA).
The International Conference on Human Rights identified key achievements, barriers and emerging challenges to delivering the goals of the ICPD. Bringing together over 300 representatives form government, civil society, human rights defenders, academia and UN agencies, conference participants identified concrete ways to bridge gaps and examine intersections between human rights, population, development equality and accountability. Conference sessions were structured around themes including: women’s autonomy and reproductive rights, sexual health and well-being and human rights and gender-based discrimination and violence.
Conference speakers and discussants included:
- Babatunde Osotimehin, UNFPA Executive Director
- Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
- Dawn Cavanagh, Executive Director of the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL, member of the Sexual Rights Initiative),
- Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, World YWCA General Secretary, and recently appointed Executive Director of UN WOMEN
- Babu Ram Pant, youth sexual and reproductive rights advocate from Nepal and member of the Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights
- Gita Sen, Professor of Public Policy at the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore (IIMB), India, and adjunct Professor of Global health and Population, Harvard school of Public health
- Adrienne Germain, President Emerita of the International Women’s health Coalition (IWHC)
- Among others.
SRI partner organization, Action Canada for Population and Development’s, Executive Director, Sandeep Prasad, co-chaired the Conference Reference Group alongside Ximena Andión, Mexican activist and Director of the Instituto de liderazgo simone de Beavuoir (a civil society organization based in Mexico).
SRI’s conference background paper
The Sexual Rights Initiative prepared a thematic paper for discussion on the topic of human rights and sexuality in the context of development. The paper provided conference participants with an analysis of the relationships between sexuality and sexual rights on the one hand and development on the other, outlines the main legal and policy developments in the area of sexuality and human rights since the Cairo Conference in 1994, identifies emerging issues within the field, and ends with a look ahead towards strengthening the integration of sexuality and sexual rights in the ICPD Beyond 2014 and Post-2015 development agendas. Finally, the paper proposes a set of guiding questions to inform a discussion on emerging issues related to sexuality and sexual rights during the International Conference on Human Rights, and beyond.
At the closing of the Conference, the Conference Chair, Marijke Wijnroks (Deputy Director for social development and the Netherlands’ Ambassador for HIV/AIDS and sexual and reproductive health and rights), presented her reflections, positioning gender equality as a prerequisite for any advancement of women and girls’ human rights, emphasized that rights related to sexuality and reproduction are universal human rights, and affirmed that ensuring sexual and reproductive rights requires an enabling environment where people can exercise autonomy and choice.
The closing remarks go on to emphasize the reality that “adolescents, particularly girls, nearly everywhere, face serious barriers in exercising their rights to comprehensive sexuality education and to sexual and reproductive health services.” In her speech, Ms. Wijnroks calls for the:
- Removal of legal and other barriers to access to sexual and reproductive health services;
- Provision of comprehensive sexuality education for all adolescents and young people; so that today’s young have evidence-based information about how their bodies work, and the knowledge and skills to develop relationships based on human rights and gender equality;
- Enabling of choices among the widest possible range of contraceptive methods, including emergency contraception, and other sexual and reproductive health services;
- Allocation of adequate human and financial resources in compliance with human rights standards;
- Ensuring the availability of quality and integratedsexual and reproductive health facilities, services and goods; this includes services such as counseling, emergency obstetric care, safe abortion services and HIV prevention and treatment as well as services addressing gender-based violence; and
- Training and supervising health workers in both technical skills and also human rights, so that they guarantee privacy, confidentiality and fully informed and free consent for each and every person, regardless of age, marital status, sexual orientation and gender identity or other characteristics.
Ultimately, supportive of participant reflections throughout the conference, the Chair’s summary called on governments to support strong and effective accountability mechanisms, enact human rights-based policies and programmes and prevent human rights-based violations.