After several meetings and delayed decisions, it is official that there will be a negotiated outcome document at the 47th session of the United Nations Commission on Population and Development (CPD). This is great news for sexual and reproductive health advocates, who now have a chance to push for strong language that puts women, their health, and their rights at the center of development.
Just now finding out about CPD? Here’s why you should care:
The Commission on Population and Development is a commission under the U.N. Economic and Social Council that is responsible for monitoring, reviewing and assessing the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). This year’s CPD is particularly important as 2014 is the 20th anniversary of the ICPD in Cairo—a watershed moment where women’s health and rights became essential to conversations about development, and resulted in the Programme of Action (POA) which set out to achieve, among other things, progress on family planning and reproductive health.
When and where is CPD?
This year’s CPD will be held from April 7-11 at the U.N. in New York.
What is a “negotiated” outcome document?
This means that countries (member states) will have to negotiate and eventually agree on the text for the outcome document. With a negotiated document, it is easier for civil society organizations engaged in the CPD meeting to see which countries are offering progressive language on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), and which are blocking progress. A negotiated outcome document means more transparency; gives more opportunities for civil society groups to influence the outcome through seats on member delegations, or through influencing the delegation from their countries; and allows for the opportunity to advance the ICPD Programme of Action.
Why do these negotiations matter?
CPD is happening during the creation of the post-2015 development agenda. This year’s CPD outcome will feed into the U.N. Secretary General’s Index Report that will be adopted in September 2014 and help shape the next set of development goals. A negotiated outcome document from the CPD that has strong SRHR language will help to ensure women’s health and rights are prioritized within those goals, and that these issues are on the radar in countries around the world.
The theme of this year’s CPD is “Assessment of the Status of Implementation of the Programme Of Action of the ICPD” which gives member states the opportunity to reflect on the progress of the last 20 years, but also to determine what still needs to be done meet the reproductive health needs of women, men, girls, and boys. While the opportunity to have a negotiated outcome document is important, member states still need to agree on an outcome document that identifies how to address the unfinished business of the last 20 years, including providing universal access to family planning and reproductive health.
Investments in SRHR, including ensuring access to modern contraception, have improved maternal health, reduced child mortality, and had a significant positive impact on the quality of life for women and girls. Achieving the Programme of Action in full is key to improving women’s health and enhancing the status and rights of women and girls.
Reproductive health was almost left out of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) entirely. Eventually, a target was added under MDG 5 (5b), but that target—achieving universal access to reproductive health—is far from being achieved. Having a strong CPD outcome document that feeds into the post-2015 agenda will help to make sure that SRHR is not left off the table again in 2015.