The work for SRHR will continue – Feelings after CPD51

By Elina Korhonen, Väestöliitto (C2030E partner)

The 51st session of the Commission on Population and Development (CPD 51) took place in New York just last week. Countdown 2030 Europe partners took part in the negotiations as members of various national delegations and advisors on the SRHR topic. Sadly, the CPD 51 was concluded on Friday evening without an outcome resolution.

The main challenge of this year’s negotiation was the theme – “Sustainable Cities, Human Mobility and International Migration.” The topic of migration was a challenging one and it was difficult for the states to come to a consensus especially on services and rights of migrants versus sovereignty of states. This discussion was made even harder due to the parallel discussion on the Global Compact on Migration taking place at the same time.

Sexual and reproductive health and rights also caused disagreement among the Member States. While many of the Member States were willing to accept the chair`s text for an outcome resolution in the spirit of compromise, the United States refused to join consensus. The United States stated that they could not accept a text that contained an unqualified reference to sexual and reproductive health, since these terms are “open to many interpretations.” The African Group also stated they could not join consensus, partly due to lack of stronger language on sovereignty and partly due to opposition to the paragraph referencing the Global Compact on Migration, which they felt undermined the negotiations.

In light of this result, Tunisia made a powerful statement on behalf of a cross-regional group of 35 countries (Australia, Austria, Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cabo Verde, Canada, Cambodia, Colombia, Cyprus, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Latvia, Liberia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Philippines, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain, Tunisia, United Kingdom and Uruguay) championing human rights for all. Sexual and reproductive health and rights, achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls are essential for addressing sustainable cities, human mobility and international migration. These are crucial in eradicating poverty and achieving sustainable development for all. In the statement, the countries also emphasized their disappointment that despite their joint efforts and constructive engagements of delegations there was no outcome resolution.

Closing the CPD, Natalia Kanem, the Executive Director of UNFPA, brought the focus back to the women and girls for whom this agenda is so critical, and emphasized the need and responsibility of Member States to provide policy guidance and support the rights of girls and women in every way and every situation.

While disappointed, we strongly feel that the Commission on Population and Development remains a critical space for countries and advocates from around the world to both affirm and advance their commitments to strengthen all human rights, including sexual and reproductive rights, of individuals worldwide.

We will continue its work to achieve a just and equitable world where no one is left behind. All of us at C2030E look forward to convening next year to build upon the ICPD Program of Action and its subsequent reviews as we approach the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development.