GA: CPD57. Commemorative event for the ICPD Programme of Action. Joint Nordic Statement

Joint statement delivered by State Secretary Bjørg Sandkjær on behalf of the Nordic countries (N5)


Ladies and gentlemen.

On behalf the Nordic countries, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and my own country Norway, I am delighted to speak to you on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development.

ICPD. These four letters carry weight, referring to the global consensus that sexual and reproductive health and rights are human rights. They are preconditions for securing the wellbeing and prosperity for all people.

In 1994, the ICPD Programme of Action brought the global community together. It firmly establishes that focusing on the rights and dignity of individuals, rather than on numerical population targets, is the best way to ensure that individuals live healthy and prosperous lives. 179 governments acknowledged that fulfillment of these rights is essential for  the achievement of both peace and prosperity , and   global equality.

The Norwegian Prime Minister at the time, Gro Harlem Brundtland, attended the conference in Cairo. She started her speech with the following words:

 “We are gathered here today to answer a moral call to action. Solidarity with present and future generations has its price. But if we do not pay it in full, we will be faced with global bankruptcy”.

She emphasized how the future was at stake but focused on common ground. However, she did not shy away from mentioning topics such as abortion, contraceptives and comprehensive sexuality education. Her words ring as true now as they did back then.

On a personal level, I was present at ICPD in Cairo as a Youth Delegate, and I was deeply impacted by the conference, its scope, and its Programme of Action.

The Nordic countries believe that we cannot discuss human rights, women’s rights or sexual and reproductive health and rights, without including youth and adolescents in a meaningful way. To secure the future of the ICPD Agenda, youth and adolescents cannot be left out. They need to be included in a substantive manner, where we take note of, and plan actions based on their input.

This was addressed in Benin earlier this month, at UNFPAs Global Youth Dialogue. Denmark was pleased to be the co-sponsor of this dialogue, together with the Netherlands and Benin.

The importance of choice, education, diversity, adaptation amid crises and representation were all emphasized as crucial components in carrying the ICPD Agenda into the next 30 years. To the youth in this room, - we hear you, we see you, and we will continue to do our work of carrying out the ICPD Agenda in honor of you, together with you.

The perspective of youth was also emphasized at the eight International Parliamentarians Conference on SRHR, IPCI, held two weeks ago, in Oslo. Hosted by Norway, together with the European Parliamentary Forum and UNFPA, the conference gathered more than 170 parliamentarians, from 112 countries. This was the second IPCI held in the Nordics, as it also took place in Stockholm in 2014.

As I stand here on behalf of the Nordic countries, I urge us all to stand firmly, backed by the experience and framework built in the last 30 years. Today, we are pausing and acknowledging how far we have come. The world today looks vastly different to 1994, with millions of lives changed for the better.

Let us now look ahead towards the next 30 years. We have the ICPD Programme of Action, and its regional and global reviews to guide us in the next decades. Let us continue the work with new fervor and motivation.

Thank you.