US Position On Population And Development Rejected

Published: Fri 20 Dec 2002 12:21 AM
20 December, 2002
Thirty Governments from the Asia Pacific region, including New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific Island states have adopted an action plan focusing on population issues as central to reducing poverty in the region and to meeting the UN Millennium Development Goal of halving the number of the world’s poorest people, living on less than $1 a day.
This agreement is despite pressure from the United States to dilute the language used in the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action (ICPD) which protects the reproductive health rights of women, in particular, around the world.
Family Planning Association (FPA) Executive Director, Dr Gill Greer, who is just home from a United Nations conference on poverty and population in Bangkok, said that it was remarkable to see this diverse group of 32 countries with their widely varying cultures and religions, united to stand firm against the United States.
“These countries affirmed their commitment to ICPD and its review in 1999 which will give them direction as they continue to work to develop policies and plans that meet their own legal and social frameworks.
“They clearly stated their belief that that the ICPD Programme of Action and this Bangkok Plan of Action in no way encourage abortion or underage sex as the United States alone had argued throughout the six days of drafting. They all further stated that the ICPD programme explicitly requires governments to minimise the need for abortions, encourage voluntary abstinence among young people, and responsible sexual and reproductive health.”
“There is no hidden code supporting abortion in the language, as was repeatedly suggested by the United States,” Dr Greer said.
“There was great concern at an alternate document proposed by the United States which would have denied all those under 19, many of whom are married in the region, the right to privacy and confidential health services, except in cases of sexual abuse. This is a contravention not only of the ICPD but also of international agreements.”
Dr Greer said it was also regrettable that when so many countries in the Asia Pacific region have achieved so much, particularly in addressing the linkage between population and poverty, so much focus was on negotiating a document’s language rather than on the past and future strategies - particularly when the U.S concerns are already explicitly addressed in the ICPD Programme of Action.
Nevertheless the document, together with ICPD, and ICPD+5 provides the Asia Pacific countries with a basis for effectively addressing the critically important issues of migration, HIV/AIDS, gender equality, reproductive health, resourcing and sustainable development, Dr Greer said.
For more information:
Dr Gill Greer, Executive Director, Family Planning Association
DDI (04) 382 4030, Mobile 021 627 766
Jan Keir Smith, Communications Coordinator, Family Planning Association
DDI (04) 384 4349, Mobile 021 915 107

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