29th Special Session of the UN General Assembly on ICPD Beyond 2014


The 29th Special Session of the UN General Assembly on ICPD Beyond 2014 took place on Monday 22 September 2014. The main item on the agenda was the “Follow-up to the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population Development beyond 2014.”

The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon said in opening the meeting, "As we celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Cairo Conference and look ahead to the future, we cannot afford to short-change development," He noted that some 800 women still died each day from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth, and an estimated 8.7 million young women in developing countries resorted to unsafe abortions every year. Millions of people, particularly in the world’s poorest countries, also still suffered from poverty, hunger, unemployment, low life expectancy and scant access to health care and education.

With the Cairo Programme of Action as its guide, the international community must confront challenges caused by rising inequality, urbanization, migration, population ageing and the largest generation of young people in history, as well as hammer out an ambitious post-2015 development path and a meaningful climate change agreement before the end of next year.  "As we advance on all these fronts, we have to remember the vision of Cairo, especially the priority it placed on reproductive health," he said.

Echoing those concerns, Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), noted that access to good health care and reproductive rights remained elusive for many women and that not a single country had achieved full gender equality.  Young girls were still forced to marry men six times their age and were subjected to sexual violence during time of conflict.  "We cannot advance by leaving half of the population — our women and girls — behind," he said.

Moreover, he emphasized that there could be no talk of sustainable development without adequate investment in the health, education and employment of youth, adding that investment in universal public services was among the most effective just actions Governments could take to create a foundation for equality and resource efficiency.

The General Assembly President, Sam Kutesa ( Uganda), said that the 20-year review of the Cairo action plan revealed that poverty, discrimination, and income and wealth inequality threatened economic growth and the well-being of individuals, societies and the planet.  Those challenges should be addressed in the post-2015 development agenda, while the impact of population dynamics must be better integrated into national, regional and international strategies.  A coordinated, systematic response was needed, an aim which he intended to promote during the Assembly’s sixty-ninth session.

Heads of State and Government and senior Government officials from some 90 countries, as well as a small number of non-governmental organizations, spoke during the session.  Summaries of the key points made in their presentations can be found on the ICPD Beyond 2014 website, together will the closing remarks of the President of the General Assembly. UNFPA is collecting the statements and has posted a placeholder on the website.


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