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UNFPA Global Population Policy Update
San Juan Parliamentary Statement
ISSUE 34 - 12 July 2004
On 29 and 30 June 2004, 300 ministers and senior officials from the Latin American, Caribbean and partner nations attended the opening session of the Ad Hoc Committee on Population and Development of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). The committee meeting was held during the 30th session of ECLAC in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in observance of the 10th anniversary of the 1994 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development.
Below is a statement read by a Member of Parliament from Nicaragua, Representative Emilia Torres, during the meeting on behalf of 22 parliamentarians in attendance.
At the Thirtieth Meeting of the ECLAC Sessional Meeting on Population and Development
Read by Emilia Torres, MP, Nicaragua
San Juan, Puerto Rico, 30 June 2004
I have the pleasure to address you on behalf of twenty-two Members of Parliament present at this meeting from sixteen countries representing the breadth of the political spectrum, from the Latin American, Caribbean, North American and the European regions. We would first like to express our gratitude to the President of the session for inviting us to make this short intervention and express our active support for the Cairo Programme of Action. We would also like to thank her Excellency Governor Sila Maria Calderon for her warm hospitality. We are happy join as fellow Parliamentarians to assist this fourth regional meeting on ICPD Program of Action-related issues. This is a testament to the importance of this meeting and the commitment from the lawmakers around the world to reaffirming the ICPD Programme of Action.
In November 2002, the first International Parliamentarians Conference on ICPD Implementation held in Ottawa launched a wave a parliamentary mobilization to protect and uphold the international consensus to guarantee each individual the right to decide freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children. The Parliamentary statements at all UN regional commission meetings on ICPD around the world, such as the UN ESCAP meeting in December 2002 for the Asia Pacific region, at the European Population Forum in Geneva in January 2004, in Santiago in March 2004 and most recently in Dakar in June at the UN ECA meeting, demonstrate how Parliamentarians from all regions played a key role in ensuring that their Governments protected and reaffirmed the ICPD Programme of Action.
The ICPD Programme of Action specifically recognizes a strategic role for Members of Parliament and we are happy to state that Parliamentarians from all regions of the world have increasingly lived up to this role thanks to the support of UNFPA, IPPF and numerous other NGOs. If we Parliamentarians truly believe that individuals have the right to make free and responsible choices about their own sexual and reproductive well being, then we as Parliamentarians must also make choices to promote policies to enable sexual and reproductive rights, to conduct the diplomacy necessary to protect international agreements and consensus and, naturally, to allocate the funds necessary to achieve the ICPD promises.
Living up to the Cairo promises is now more urgent than ever before, and unless we step up efforts, we will not achieve the Millennium Development Goals all our countries have agreed. Over the course of this five day meeting, all of us in this room know that more than 8,000 women will have died as a result of pregnancy related complications; that 30,000 adolescents will have become infected with HIV/AIDS and that 1,068 women will have died as a result of unsafe abortions. This human tragedy is completely unacceptable, particularly because it is preventable. These individuals have the right to life.
When we discuss these issues and endorse the Santiago Declaration, we should all recognize that the real work must then begin back in our respective countries and this work must be grounded in the reality, culture and daily life of the people on behalf of whom we claim to speak. To take one example, by promoting abstinence until marriage in regions of the world where women and young girls are not empowered to say 'no' -- we are not helping anyone. We are in fact catering to conservative attitudes, which fail to take into account the aspirations of young people and those with specific needs. Such an unrealistic approach towards sexuality, including the lack of access to qualified personnel, the insufficient allocation of funding for reproductive health services and inequalities in accessing existing services, accounts for a large part of this preventable human tragedy. We must also admit that a number of recent opinion polls in the region demonstrate that the general population recognizes the right of women to make their own decisions and it is our duty as elected representatives to listen to the expressed wishes of our people. It is for this reason that we firmly believe that these issues must be dealt with in a cross party fashion overcoming political party differences. In this respect, we particularly welcome the strong bi-partisan expression of support from over one hundred Members of the US Congress in favour of reaffirming the ICPD Programme of Action, in a letter dated 15 June.
We parliamentarians have actively laboured to overcome these challenges by adopting new laws and policies and amending existing legislation to reflect new commitments and priorities. External donor funding to ICPD goals must remain high on the agenda of donor countries particularly when we consider that the shortage in funding to ensure contraceptive supplies around the world in measured in the hundreds of millions of dollars. It is for this reason that we wish to state clearly our support for continued and increase funding in this field, bilaterally, to the UN -in particular UNFPA- and to progressive NGOs -in particular IPPF.
Let this penultimate regional meeting unambiguously reaffirm the ICPD Programme of Action, as well as the Port of Spain and Santiago Declarations, and thus strengthen the global consensus, which Parliamentarians from each region of the world have pledged to use as the basis of our work. Our political actions will be guided by our responsibility in ensuring that the ICPD Programme of Action becomes a reality for our most vulnerable people. At the first International Parliamentarians' Conference on ICPD Implementation in Ottawa, over 100 Parliamentarians from 70 countries heard the alarm bell: "Life or death is a political decision." We Parliamentarians chose life.
Min. Winston Williams, Antigua y Barbuda.
Rep. Aldo Carlos Neri, Argentina.
Sen. Marita Perceval, Argentina.
Rep. Erika Brockmann Quiroga, Bolivia.
Rep. Maria Teresa Paz Prudencio, Bolivia.
Rep. Enrique Accorsi Opazo, Chile.
Rep. Myrian Garcias Davila, Ecuador.
Rep. Marie Jo Zimmermann, France.
Rep. Claude Greff, France.
Rep. Danielle Bousquet, France.
Rep. Emilia Torres, Nicaragua.
Rep. Gloria Young, Panama.
Rep. Rosa Merlo Drews, Paraguay.
Rep. VÃictor Velarde Arrunategui, Peru.
Rep. Ana Manso, Portugal.
Rep. Luisa Portugal, Portugal.
Rep. Cinta Castillo, Spain.
Rep. Chris Mc Cafferty, United Kingdom.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, United States of America.
Rep. Joseph Crowley, United States of America.
Rep. Margarita Percovich, Uruguay.
Rep. Marelys PÃ©rez Marcano, Venezuela
All previous issues of the UNFPA Global Population Policy Update can now be found on UNFPA's website at: http://www.unfpa.org/parlamentarians/news/newsletters.htm
This newsletter is issued by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in its capacity as secretariat for the biannual International Parliamentarians' Conference on the Implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action (the first conference was held in November 2002, in Ottawa, Canada). These dispatches are intended to highlight important developments taking place around the world so that parliamentarians can be kept informed of and learn from the successes, setbacks and challenges encountered by their fellow parliamentarians in other countries and regions in their efforts to promote the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (September 1994, Cairo, Egypt). It should be noted that UNFPA does not necessarily endorse all of the policies described in this newsletter
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