Remarks by Margaret Pollack, Director for Multilateral Coordination and External Relations and Senior Advisor on Population Issues, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, At the 47th UN Commission on Population and Development,

Margaret Pollack
Special Advisor on Population Issues 
Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration 
New York, NY
April 11, 2014


Mr. Chairman, the government of the United States thanks the Secretariat for its work to bring member states to consensus on a document that strongly reaffirms the relevance of the ICPD Program of Action on the 20th anniversary of the 1994 Cairo conference. This important consensus document reaffirms the Program of Action as an invaluable road map to development because it is grounded in human rights and elaborates that the fundamental needs of all people must be addressed if we are to achieve sustainable development. What was true 20 years ago is still true today, as it still provides the best pathway to progress two decades after its adoption. We remain committed to the ICPD’s goals and objectives, and we support the work of the ICPD Beyond 2014 review process to focus our attention on meeting the gaps that still stand in the way of achieving the goals of Cairo.

We are pleased to see the outcomes of the regional reviews accorded appropriate prominence in the text. These regional processes were rich, invigorating and highly motivating moments for regions across the globe. Where strong agreement was reached, this resolution highlights and celebrates such progress. Where regions are grappling with challenges of implementing the Program of Action twenty years in, this resolution offers solutions and insight to such challenges.

Of special importance to my delegation on this 20th anniversary of the ICPD Program of Action is the manner in which this resolution of the 47th Commission on Population and Development positions sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights for the development agenda of tomorrow. The post-2015 process is one that has captured the talents and energies of many of my fellow Member States' brightest thinkers and most passionate development practitioners among both governments and civil society. The resolution we crafted this week reaffirms these efforts to bring the ICPD agenda forward into the process to elaborate Post-2015 development agenda.

This Commission knows well the central role that both population dynamics and sexual and reproductive health play in the overall well-being of countries. This resolution strengthens our case even further, and helps those outside our community understand the way economic growth and prosperity, national and human security, and sustainable development are each enhanced and made more achievable when human rights are protected, promoted and fulfilled. The ICPD Program of Action is a key piece of this human rights equation, and this resolution delivers that good news.

We’re particularly pleased to see highlighted the importance of meeting the needs of adolescents and youth and we firmly believe the time to invest in youth is now. In many countries, people under the age of 25 form the largest segment of the population. These young people represent our best hope for a bright future, and they want to be empowered to seize the opportunities that life holds.

Mr. Chairman, while we are pleased overall with this text, there are a few issues of concern to my delegation. The United States reaffirms the universality of all human rights, and stresses that the diversity of backgrounds and cultures can never be an excuse for a country not to fulfill its human rights obligations. My delegation looks forward to the day when we can all agree that we must respect and protect the right of all individuals to live their lives free of violence and discrimination regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

In addition, the United States is committed to finding ways we can work together constructively to make the issue of the “right to development” a uniting, rather than divisive issue. Our position on this is well known, and as we have repeatedly stated, theoretical work is needed to define the right to development; discussion of the right to development needs to focus on aspects of development that relate to human rights, universal rights that are held and enjoyed by individuals, and which every individual may demand from his or her own government.

Furthermore, in several places, this resolution takes up the issue of new and additional resources to implement the commitments governments made in Cairo. Achieving the Cairo agenda will require efforts from all sources, including official development assistance, domestic resources and other private flows, and analysis of how they can be best deployed. While technical and other assistance may help a state promote human rights domestically, the lack of it can never justify a state’s failure to fulfill its human rights obligations.

In closing, Mr. Chairman, the United States looks forward to the special session to be held in the General Assembly later this year to commemorate the ICPD Program of Action, and we will enthusiastically participate in this event.

Thank you.


PRN: 2014/084