Over the last half century, ideas about the relationships between population, sustainability and human rights have evolved significantly. At the centre of this evolution stands the International Conference on Population and Development (Cairo, 1994). This watershed event forged an international consensus that placed individuals and human rights at the centre of population and development concerns. It shed new light on the linkages between reproductive health and rights and other aspects of development. The rights-based consensus that emerged laid the foundation for subsequent international forums and international development planning, including Fourth World Conference on Women and the Millennium Summit.
The Programme of Action agreed to at the ICPD, along with benchmarks added at the ICPD+5 review, inform the eight Millennium Development Goals (derived from Millennium Summit). These mutually reinforcing development blueprints guide UNFPA in its efforts to improve lives, support reproductive health and rights, and advance gender equality.
Major International Conferences Leading to the MDGs
ICPD — International Conference on Population and Development
The 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) was a milestone in the history of population and development, as well as in the history of women's rights. At the conference, the world agreed that population is not about numbers, but about people. Implicit in this rights-based approach is the idea that every person counts. The conference also made it clear that empowerment of women is not simply an end in itself, but also a step towards eradicating poverty and stabilizing population growth. Reproductive health and rights are cornerstones of women's empowerment.
At the conference, 179 countries adopted a 20-year Programme of Action, which focused on individuals' needs and rights, rather than on achieving demographic targets. The recommendations and commitments of Cairo were strengthened and updated at the ICPD five-year review. Concrete goals include providing universal education; reducing infant, child and maternal mortality; and ensuring universal access by 2015 to reproductive health care, including family planning, assisted childbirth and prevention of sexually transmitted infections including HIV. more
Millennium Development Goals
At the Millennium Summit in 2000, 189 Member States agreed to help the world's poorest countries significantly by the year 2015. A framework for progress consisting of eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) was derived from the Millennium Declaration adopted by these world leaders. These eight interlinked goals and associated targets are the result of decades of experience and discussions at all levels, including a series of international conferences in the 1990s on children, population and development, human rights, women, social development, HIV/AIDS and financing for development.
The MDGs serve as a time-bound, achievable blueprint for reducing poverty and improving lives agreed to by all countries and all leading development institutions. They guide and focus development priorities for governments, donors and practitioner agencies worldwide.
At the 2005 World Summit, the largest-ever gathering of world leaders reaffirmed the need to keep gender equality, HIV/AIDS and reproductive health at the top of the development agenda. Subsequently, additional targets, including universal access to reproductive health by 2015, and related indicators were added to the Millennium Development Goals. more