Lawmakers from 110 countries reaffirmed today their support to the principles and goals of the 1994 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), emphasizing their continued centrality to efforts to reduce poverty and safeguard people’s health and rights, including sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.
At the fifth global parliamentarians’ conference on population and development, held here on 24-25 May, some 400 delegates, including more than 200 parliamentarians, discussed a course of action over the coming years to implement the ICPD Programme of Action by 2014 and beyond. They also considered ways to influence any new development framework to follow the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015
“ICPD is about human beings, respect, rights, and what we can do to ensure that every individual can make his or her own decisions,” said Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund. “Only then would the world be in a better place.”
With only two years until the Cairo agenda is expected to be complete, delegates committed themselves to its unfinished plan by unanimously adopting the Istanbul Declaration of Commitment. In it, and under the theme, Keeping Promises — Measuring Results, they determined to advocate for increased national and external funding for the entire implementation of the ICPD agenda in order to achieve access to sexual and reproductive health, including family planning.
The Istanbul conference, which concluded with an address by Turkey’s Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was organized by the European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (EPF) and UNFPA, under the auspices of Turkey’s Grand National Assembly. It followed four similar global conferences, in Bangkok in 2006, Strasbourg in 2004, Ottawa in 2002 and Addis Ababa in 2009.
So, keeping in mind that the conference was in Istanbul and was addressed by the Turkish Prime Minister, you might be surprised then to learn that the very same Turkish Prime Minister made headlines in the New York Times this week by suggesting that abortion was murder and should be abolished.
Since 1983, abortion has been legal inTurkey for up to 10 weeks after conception, with emergency abortions allowed for medical reasons after that. Mr. Erdogan proposed outlawing all abortions that are not medically necessary, and limiting medically necessary abortions to the first eight weeks after conception, according to NTV, a private television news network.
Mr. Erdogan, who wants every married couple to have at least three children, dismissed criticism of his position, saying Friday that abortion “has no place in our values” and on Saturday that “our only goal is to elevate this country above the levels of developed civilizations, for which we need a young and dynamic population.”This would seem to put a radically different spin on the "Istanbul Declaration of Commitment" than most of the delegates at the conference would likely agree with.