Ensuring that Young People Matter at CPD

From April 23 to April 27, 2012, the 45th session of the Commission on Population and Development (CPD) met at the United Nations in New York City. The CPD is an annual week-long meeting at the UN where advocates and members states gather to create a resolution document that upholds the Programme of Action created at the International Conference on Population Development (ICPD) in 1994. Since the theme of this year’s CPD was Adolescents and Youth, a main focus of the negotiations was ensuring the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) for young people. Prior to the CPD, IWHC held an intensive multi-day “Advocacy in Practice” (AiP) workshop to help support participants advocating for SRHR at the national and international levels.

Below you will find a blog written by AiP participant Maxsalia Salmon of the Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network that underscores the importance of reaching a resolution at CPD, for the sake of protecting the rights of young people around the world.

It’s Friday the 27th of April (the proposed date for the closing of the 45th session of the CPD) and following days of opposition to proposed texts the members of the commission as it stands are currently awaiting the chairs text so as to proceed. As we gather with bated breath awaiting the resumption of today’s session the young people who have gathered from around the world stand committed to pushing for a resolution document today.

Notwithstanding the fact the nearly 95% of the delegates representing the UN nations at this year’s CPD session themed “Adolescent and Youth” are adults and dare I say elders in some cases I must salute the youth and the countries who have ensured  that young people are a part of the process. Their unrelenting attitude continues to motivate us here each day. With that said I must express my disappointment with the nations (including my own) who refused for whatever reason to include young people in this process. It cannot be emphasized enough how important it is to have young people being involved at all stages when we seek to make polices, programmes and even draft international agreements that affect their lives.

So it seems the issues surrounding sexual and reproductive health and rights for young people are one of the main reasons why the delegates have been unable to reach agreement on proposed text. It is preposterous to me that facts such as those highlighted by UNAIDS in the statements presented at this year’s CPD session have not clarified the need to have a comprehensive approach to addressing youth SRHR issues. Facts which show for example that young people accounted for 42% of all HIV infections in people aged 15 and older and that in low and middle income countries only 24% of young women and 36% of young men have comprehensive knowledge of HIV. It must be acknowledged by nations that all adolescents and youth have a right to sexual and reproductive health, to live free from violence and coercion, and to exercise their sexual and reproductive rights. Youth involvement, comprehensive sexuality education, youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services, an enabling legal and socio-cultural environment, and recognition of youth diversity are critical to ensuring that young people lead healthy lives.

Standing committed to youth development,

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