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Population meeting a red flag for pro-life groups

February 9, 2009 - BERLIN

Germany hosts the Global Forum of the International Conference on Population and Development at 15 (ICPD at 15). Under the United Nations umbrella, it brings together NGOs from around the world to review progress in meeting overall reproductive health care needs, particularly for women. The goal represents a red flag for the Vatican, and at least one Catholic publication is protesting that the forum won't seat pro-life NGOs. The meeting also marks the 15th anniversary of the ICPD.

Germany hosts the Global Forum of the International Conference on Population and Development at 15 (ICPD at 15). Under the United Nations umbrella, it brings together NGOs from around the world to review progress in meeting overall reproductive health care needs, particularly for women. The goal represents a red flag for the Vatican, and at least one Catholic publication is protesting that the forum won't seat pro-life NGOs. The meeting also marks the 15th anniversary of the ICPD. The NGOs will consider "external factors such as economic crisis, food crisis, climate change, health sector reforms, and new aid structures; and challenges ... from those actively opposed to the agenda." In an April article that has been picked up by other Catholic publications, the journal of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute asserted that "those opposed to the agenda" means pro-life NGOs, and that the Berlin forum quota system excludes pro-lifers. The landmark 1994 ICPD meeting held in Cairo and subsequent ICPD meetings have been fraught with controversy over family planning and abortion. At the first meeting, 179 countries agreed to guarantee universal access to reproductive health by the year 2015. The controversy centers on whether those rights include abortion. The goals laid out by the Cairo meeting guide the work of the development agency, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the steering body for the ICPD Berlin forum. The United Nations General Assembly commemorated the 10th anniversary of the ICPD on 14 Oct 2004 with a special observance. The event featured ministers and other officials from more than 60 countries who took the floor to publicly renew their countries' support for the ICPD Programme of Action. One highlight of the day-long meeting was a statement by world leaders affirming the vision of the Cairo plan and calling for funds to continue its implementation. A similar observance can be expected for the 15th anniversary. The ICPD and UNFPA missions and goals are tied to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Adopted by world leaders in 2000, the eight goals range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education -- all by the target date of 2015. According to the 2008 MDGs Report, "the world has made strong and sustained progress in reducing extreme poverty, but this is now being undercut by higher prices - particularly of food and oil - and the global economic slowdown." The ICPD at 15 Global Forum, which marks the three-quarter point in the organization's 20-year program of action, is likely to be grappling with these same global economic constraints. Apr/09

Forum web:

UNFPA Seeks to Block Pro-Lifers from Global NGO Meeting (C-FAM )

Why allotment for population is rising (Business Daily Africa 14 Apr 2009)

UNFPA

Date written/update: 2009-02-09