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UNFPA Global Population Policy Update
N'djamena Declaration of Speakers of African Parliaments
ISSUE 52 - 03 June 2005
On 16-19 May 2005, Speakers and leaders of African parliaments from 38 countries gathered in N'djamena, Chad for a Conference of Speakers of African National Assemblies on Issues of Population and Development.
The meeting aimed to review African experiences in matters of population and development in order to identify the successes, best practices and constraints encountered in implementing the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Programme of Action, which was adopted just over 10 years ago.
At the conclusion, the participants adopted the N'djamena Declaration of Speakers of African Parliaments, which reaffirms their commitment to the ICPD PoA, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the objectives of the New Partnership for the Development of Africa (NEPAD).
Most importantly, they pledged to"call for the use of the ICPD goal of universal access to sexual and reproductive health by 2015 as a target to measure progress towards achieving the MDGs, particularly those related to improving maternal health, reducing child mortality, promoting gender equality, combating HIV/AIDS and eradicating poverty".
The N'djamena Declaration calls for the establishment of a Pan-African Parliamentary Committee on Population and Development, which would provide a permanent framework of consultation and action by the Speakers of African parliaments in the area of population and development.
The Declaration will be presented to the G8 International Parliamentarians' Conference on Development in Africa (6-7 June, Edinburgh), the World Conference of Speakers of Parliaments (7-9 September, New York) and the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Plenary on the Millennium Declaration Review (14-17 September, New York).
Note: The name of the Committee mentioned in paragragh 4 and the final paragragh might be subject to technical revision to accurately reflect its original French name.
N'DJAMENA DECLARATION OF SPEAKERS OF AFRICAN PARLIAMENTS
We, the Speakers of the African Parliaments and their Representatives, meeting in N'Djamena, Chad on 18th and 19th May 2005, at the initiative of the National Assembly of Chad with the support of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund,
- Aware that the creation of an enabling environment for poverty reduction and the improvement of the living conditions of the people are prerequisites to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the objectives of the New Partnership for the Development of Africa (NEPAD);
- Taking stock of the achievements of national population policies, programmes and plans, and after the exchange of views on opportunities and the need to harmonize African legislation on reproductive health and HIV/AIDS;
- Determined to strengthen the capacity of parliamentarians in population and development issues in the context of the implementation and monitoring of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), and to establish a Pan-African Parliamentary Committee on Population and Development;
Solemnly reaffirm our commitment to the goals of the ICPD Programme of Action held in Cairo in 1994, the MDGs and NEPAD;
Acknowledge that significant progress has been made in the area of reproductive health with the contribution of parliamentary committees and networks established following the ICPD;
Acknowledge the key role that parliamentarians must play in formulating laws to improve reproductive health, defining and implementing family planning policies and strategies, combating HIV/AIDS, promoting gender equity, enhancing the status of women, protecting and enhancing the status of children, especially of the girl child;
Acknowledge the critical role of parliamentarians, because of their status as the rightful representatives of the people and due to the power of their message to individuals and communities, in supporting various advocacy activities which are needed to bring forth changes in attitudes and behaviour;
Acknowledge that parliamentarians have the mandate to adopt the national budget and therefore are in the position to advocate for the increase in the budgetary allocations to health sector in general and reproductive health in particular;
Acknowledge the N'Djamena conference as a follow-up to similar parliamentary meetings on population and development which took place after the ICPD: Capetown (1997), Ottawa (2002), Ngor Diamara (June 2004) and Strasbourg (October 2004);
Aware that the N'Djamena Conference of the Speakers of African Parliaments is leading to other upcoming events, including:
* The G8 International Parliamentarians' Conference on Development in Africa 2005, 6-7 June 2005 in Edinburgh, Scotland;
* The World Conference of Speakers of Parliaments, 7-9 September 2005 in New York, U.S.A.;
* The High-Level Plenary of the General Assembly on the review of the implementation of the Millennium Declaration, 14-16 September 2005 in New York, U.S.A.;
Recognize the fact that our continent is facing, among others, the following challenges:
* HIV/AIDS: 28 million people are infected or affected by HIV/AIDS;
* Maternal mortality: 600,000 women around the world die every year in childbirth, the great majority of which are African women (500 to 1,200 deaths for 100,000 live births);
* Total fertility rate: the highest total fertility rates in the world are found in Africa, reaching up to 7.8 children per woman;
* Poverty: half of the population in sub-Saharan Africa live below the poverty line of US$1 a day;
* Refugees: the number of refugees in Africa is estimated to be 5 million and the persistence of conflicts and wars is not likely to reduce the flow of refugees and displaced persons;
CALL TO ACTION
We therefore pledge to:
1. Call for the use of the ICPD goal of universal access to sexual and reproductive health by 2015 as a target to measure progress towards achieving the MDGs, particularly those related to improving maternal health, reducing child mortality, promoting gender equality, combating HIV/AIDS and eradicating poverty;
2. Advocate for the strengthening of the institutional framework for reproductive health, family planning and sexual health by giving more authority to the institutions charged with these issues and by raising their levels in the government administration;
3. Urge governments to position population issues within national development frameworks and present them as national priorities;
4. Monitor the observance of good governance, so that the resources allocated to this sector by the State and local municipalities are managed with transparency and rigor;
5. Strive to attain at least 10% of national development budgets and development assistance budgets for population and reproductive health programmes, as stated in the Strasbourg Statement of Commitment of 19 October 2004;
6. Foster partnership with the international community, particularly through North-South inter-parliamentary cooperation to ensure that commitments made at Cairo concerning resource mobilization are met;
7. Advocate for the fulfilment of the agreed target of 0.7% of GNP for official development assistance (ODA);
8. Make efforts through parliamentary diplomacy to bring forth peace and democracy to Africa in regions torn by conflicts, crises and wars;
9. Contribute to consolidating the rule of law and democratic principles;
10. Contribute to the resolution of problems related to the management of refugees and displaced persons;
11. Promote, by proposing laws or any other parliamentary initiatives, legal reforms aimed at improving reproductive health, family planning and sexual health;
12. Promote the reproductive rights of women and adolescents, especially the right to access appropriate information on how to prevent unwanted pregnancies, STIs/HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases;
13. Strengthen the fight against AIDS through legislative measures, advocacy, increase of resources and partnership with civil society;
14. Support the integration HIV/AIDS programmes with reproductive health programmes and ensure that they are implemented;
15. Promote gender equality, in particular by fighting all forms of discrimination against women and girls;
16. Promote gender equity in all decision making bodies;
17. Promote the access of women and children to education;
18. Promote access to safe water, education and health care, especially among the rural people;
19. Ensure the protection of the environment;
20. Strengthen the capacity of the parliamentary networks and committees in the areas of parliamentary initiatives, resource mobilization, advocacy, monitoring of government activities and the running of the secretariat;
21. Promote access to information and communication technologies (ICT).
We, the Speakers of African Parliaments, decide to establish a permanent framework of exchange and action entitled the Pan-African Parliamentary Committee on Population and Development.
We therefore adopt its statute.
N'Djamena, 19th May 2005
The Conference of Speakers of African Parliaments
All previous issues of the UNFPA Global Population Policy Update can be found on UNFPA's website at: http://www.unfpa.org/parliamentarians/news/newsletters.htm.
This newsletter is issued by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in its capacity as secretariat for the biennual International Parliamentarians' Conference on the Implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action (IPCI/ICPD). The first IPCI/ICPD was held in November 2002 in Ottawa, Canada and the second in October 2004 in Strasbourg, France. 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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