1. Elaborates the contribution of the ICPD Programme of Action (PoA) to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
- The PoA preceded and provides the foundation for all the eight MDGs, but this has not been widely recognized.
- This resolution clearly states for first the time in an intergovernmental text that "full" implementation of the PoA and key actions for its implementation are "integrally linked to global efforts to achieve the Internationally Agreed Development Goals (IADGs) and MDGs and that these goals are mutually reinforcing" (pp 5, pp 17, op3); achieving the PoA makes an "essential contribution (op3, 6) to achieving the IADGs and MDGS.
2. Reaffirms specific content of the ICPD PoA in the context of the MDGs
- Until (October 2007), the core Cairo goal (universal access to reproductive health) was not included in the MDGs. It is significant that this CPD named this key element of the PoA, not just the PoA in general, and linked it to the MDGs.
- The resolution specifies universal access to reproductive health four times (pp 17, op6, 9, 31).
- The MDG target 5b (universal access to reproductive health) is named for the first time in an intergovernmental document (op2).
- The resolution repeats the full definition of reproductive health services (op9) without qualification, even though the most progressive agreed language on abortion is used (key actions, para 63).
- Op24 lost its list of priority emphases, but the list was partially retained in the para on monitoring (op31): improve maternal health, achieve universal access to reproductive health, empower women and achieve gender equality.
3. Highlights priorities for action
- Sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights: pp 17 restates in full para 7.3 of ICPD PoA which may seem tedious but, along with points b, and d below, contributes to one of the major emphases of this resolution: human rights. Para 7.3 is remarkable in its scope, recognizing not only the right to decide the number and spacing of children, but also the right to attain "the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health," promotion of "mutually respectful and equitable gender relations" and "meeting the educational and service needs of adolescents to enable them to deal in a positive and responsible way with their sexuality." The phrase, "sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights", is repeated in pp 4 and op27.
- The human rights of women and men to have control over their sexuality (pp 6, op6, 7): although South Africa, Zambia, several Latin American and European countries wanted the phrase" sexual and reproductive health and rights," that formulation does not exist in agreed documents and various delegations will not accept it because it implies "sexual rights" which, as yet, are nowhere agreed/defined in the UN. However, the definition secured in Beijing (para 96), "the human right of women includes their right to have control over their sexuality..." is in pp 6 where it is expanded to include men; op7, a para naming priorities to ensure the contribution of the PoA to the IADGs and the MDGs; and op18, also an action para on reducing HIV transmission. This language has not previously been in an action para except in the HIV context (2006 Political Declaration, para 30). Expanding it to include men will make it far more usable for advocacy for adolescents and young people. These are major accomplishments.
- Empowerment of young people: The language in this resolution is exceptional in its scope and because it does not have the usual restrictive qualifiers (op13, family planning; op15 male and female condoms; op16 reproductive health care services, involving young people, purpose is to enable them "to deal in a positive and responsible way with their sexuality" as in pp17, point a above).
- The human rights and empowerment of girls: recognizes the harm of forced marriage (and "early sexual relationships" - this may be new language and is not necessarily good), early pregnancy and motherhood, etc. (pp 15, op7, 8), pp16 on elimination of child marriage. This is agreed language, but significant in that the topic is recognized as a priority in this resolution.
- HIV/AIDS: pp 18 recognizes the disproportionate burden on women and girls, and new infections in young people. The resolution includes unprecedented action commitments on integrating sexual and reproductive health information and services into HIV/AIDS plans and strategies (op18); strengthened initiatives to increase the capacities of women and adolescent girls to protect themselves from HIV, principally through health services, including for sexual and reproductive health (op19), and prevention education that promotes gender equality (op19). These are highly significant for the global AIDS response which has been slow to prioritize actions to reduce girls' and women's vulnerability, to integrate HIV and RH services, and to recognize that "HIV education" needs to deal with underlying drivers of epidemics such as inequality between men and women.
- Maternal health: Prevent and address as a matter of priority deaths and complications related to pregnancy and childbirth (op26). This is a vital para because MDG 5 on maternal health is the MDG least likely to be achieved even though it is crucial for the achievement of the other MDGs. Making it "a matter of priority" in an intergovernmental document is unprecedented (or nearly so).
- Health system priority: Prioritize sexual and reproductive health in health system strengthening (op9). This is highly significant for use in ongoing global health initiatives (such as the International Health Partnership), with donors (e.g., World Bank, The Global Fund), and at the country level. Op9 also contains language on access to safe abortion services.
4. Other emphases
- Civil Society/NGOs: Despite resistance from a few delegations, the resolution contains robust action paras (op10, 30) on partnership between government, UN and civil society organizations to assist in the formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of population and development objectives and activities.
- Funding: Recognizes the "dire need" to increase financial resources for PoA implementation particularly for family planning. Family planning is one of the major elements of SRH that has been least well funded in recent years, along with maternity care.
- Humanitarian assistance (op27): Sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, and women's rights and empowerment deserve increased attention.
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