Sexual and reproductive health and rights in the centre of recommendations of the UNECE Regional ICPD beyond 2014 conference

UNECE/Pierre Albouy

Interventions from the floor. WHO delegates at the UNECE Regional Conference. Enabling choices: population priorities for the 21st century, Geneva, 1-2 July 2013

The European Regional conference Enabling Choices: Population Priorities for the 21st Century was organized by UNECE and UNFPA in Geneva on 1-2 July 2013. It was the culmination of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) review in the UNECE region comprising Europe, central Asia and North America.

When addressing participants Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, Deputy Executive Director UNFPA emphasized: “It is an overall positive picture. But this is only part of the reality. Even in our European Region, exercising rights and choice is still not a reality for all, two decades after Cairo.”

Based on the outcomes of the regional review launched at the conference, over 200 high-level experts from governments, civil society and academia, as well as members of parliaments and youth representatives discussed the progress made towards achieving the ICPD goals, identified neglected areas and agreed what needs to be done to accelerate implementation and reduce inequalities.

Participants underscored that promotion and protection of sexual and reproductive health and rights are essential to achieving gender equity, social justice and sustainable development.

During the session “Families and Sexual and Reproductive Health over the Life-course” WHO/Europe participated in the discussion and urged all countries to ensure that sexual and reproductive health and rights is part of the national Health 2020 policy documents, clear targets are developed and monitoring mechanisms established.

The summary of the conference includes recommendations for further actions. Many of them are directly linked with universal access to reproductive health. For example: “Participants called upon governments to take a human rights-based approach to sexual and reproductive health, including support for sexual and reproductive health services that protect women’s and girls’ general health and well-being, allow for well-informed decisions, and are respectful of individual choices”.

Organizers thanked WHO for its constant assistance to countries and collaboration with partners in achieving ICPD goals.