Madam President, on behalf of the United States, I would like to express the thanks of my government to the Secretary-General and the ICPD Beyond 2014 Secretariat for presenting us with this report on progress to date in Preparations for the special session of the General Assembly on the follow-up to the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development beyond 2014 (A/68/493).
The Program of Action adopted by 179 governments at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, and reaffirmed in many intergovernmental negotiations since then, recognizes that for all of us to realize our full potential and our reproductive rights, we must be able to exercise our right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health. The ICPD Program of Action discusses the rights, policies, programs and enabling conditions that all individuals, but particularly women and young people, need to successfully manage, for themselves, issues related to their sexuality, reproduction, and health. Yet 19 years after Cairo, these goals have not been fulfilled for many, especially for those who are poor, young, female, disabled, or displaced who are too frequently marginalized, including members of racial, ethnic, or sexual minorities. The ICPD agenda is also relevant to ongoing discussions regarding the post-2015 development agenda, and as such our work to review ICPD implementation to date will have resonance across the UN's development framework.
We must continue to move forward on meeting the ICPD goals, and not lose momentum in the face of resistance or persistent challenges. One of these persistent challenges is reducing rates of mortality and morbidity related to sexual and reproductive health, particularly for women and adolescent girls. In addition, with over 40 percent of the world’s population under the age of 25 we must increase efforts to meet the needs of adolescents and youth and secure their healthy transition to adulthood. We must also help them avoid some of the pitfalls that threaten to derail their futures, such as early and forced marriage, which is still all too pervasive in many countries around the world. In particular, working in partnership with young people, we need to support and provide quality education equally for girls and boys at least through secondary school; make comprehensive sexuality education available for all adolescents and youth; ensure that health services, particularly sexual and reproductive health services, are accessible to young people; work to prevent and respond to physical and sexual violence against youth; and promote and protect their reproductive rights. New thinking and renewed vigor in our approach and partnerships can bring us closer to attaining the ICPD goals for current and future generations of young people.
It is a United States priority that women and girls everywhere achieve the freedom to decide for themselves on matters of their own sexuality so they may enjoy strong healthy families and live in thriving communities and nations. We commend the efforts of the ICPD Beyond 2014 Secretariat to report on progress to date in reviewing global implementation of the ICPD, and we are committed to working together with all member states over the coming year to ensure a positive outcome to the global review process.
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