12 April 2017

CPD ends without agreement

After nearly 10 days of intense negotiations, the Commission on Population and Development (CPD) ended without an agreement on April 7. For the second time in three years, UN member states were unable to agree on an outcome. On the morning of April 7, the Chair of the CPD, Qatari Ambassador Alya bint Ahmed Al Thani, had presented a chair’s text that included references to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, modern contraceptives and comprehensive education on human sexuality, amongst many other issues relevant to the theme of this year’s CPD. These references were opposed by the United States, joining hands with conservative countries from the African and Arab regions and the Holy See among others.

At the same time, wide range of countries, including from Europe and Latin America, were not willing to accept a watering-down of agreed language and existing commitments, including the principles of the ICPD Programme of Action. This left the Chair of the Commission with no other option than to withdraw her text and close the 50th session of the Commission without consensus.

Civil society, including many members of the EuroNGOs network, supported the position of like-minded governments from all regions to defend the importance of sexual and reproductive health, reproductive rights and access to modern contraceptives throughout the negotiations. Early in the negotiations, the European Union split on these topics and like-minded EU member states negotiated in their national capacity. After the Chair withdrew her text, Fabienne Bartoli of the French CPD delegation read a statement on behalf of a cross-regional group of 31 countries, stating the centrality of SRHR for addressing changing population age structures, eradicating poverty and achieving sustainable development. Also Tunisia, Argentina and South-Africa gave strong supportive statements.

Despite the failure to reach agreement during CPD50, the session showed a broad and growing support for SRHR in the context of sustainable development. The constructive and open discussions showed the continued importance of the Commission’s annual deliberations. Throughout the ten days, negotiations touched upon the wide range of policies that countries need at different stages of demographic change, including to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights. We therefore call for the continued and active participation of member states in order to seek consensus in future CPDs.

See the CPD website.

This article was written by Katrin Erlingsen, EuroNGOs Steering committee member and Senior Advocacy Officer at Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung (DSW) and Rineke van Dam, Advocacy Officer at Rutgers