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Oslo Statement creates new challenges on people development

20 April 2024 11:10 (UTC+04:00)
Oslo Statement creates new challenges on people development

By Mazahir Afandiyev

A radical new understanding of the connection between population, development, individual rights, and well-being was established during the 1994 United Nations International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), which took place in Cairo. Reproductive health, human rights protection, and the struggle against the exploitation of women and children were the key topics of discussion there. As a result, the Cairo agreement, also known as the ICPD Programme of Action, was adopted. The Programme of Action states that reproductive health and other human rights are fundamental to both individual well-being and sustainable development.

The ICPD Programme of Action has been the subject of discussions for the past 30 years at different levels. The successes of the program are highly assessed by the states, representatives of civil society, international experts, and parliamentarians in connection with the formation of a legislative framework.

The legislative framework being built benefits from legislators' discussions of new topics targeted at restoring realities and enacting legislative measures in this regard. These discussions can also help prevent violations of fundamental rights.

When the agreement was adopted in Cairo in 1994, a relatively limited number of parliamentary representatives took part in talks about human rights and freedoms and universal human ideals in a completely transparent way. However, parliamentarians had to discuss the protection of liberties and human rights, which was backed by numerous think tanks and scientific studies.

Since 2002, international conferences of legislators have been held by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and parliamentary networks for the protection of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) to address the mobilization of available resources and establish an environment that promotes the discussion of topics related to the realization of reproductive rights.

A unique instrument designed to bring parliamentarians together globally and translate that consensus into tangible policy, financial, and accountability outcomes at the national level is the International Parliamentarians’ Conference on the Implementation of the International Conference on Population and Development (IPCI/ICPD).

The first International Parliamentarians’ Conference on the Implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action took place in Ottawa, Canada, in November 2002. Subsequent conferences were held in France (2004), Thailand (2006), Ethiopia (2009), Turkey (2012), Sweden (2014), and Ottawa, Canada, which hosted the seventh one in October 2018.

It is important to point out that the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2024 at the 57th session of the United Nations Commission on Population and Development. During the conference that took place on October 19–20, 2023, in Geneva, it was decided to hold the next eight International Parliamentarians’ Conference on the Implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action in Norway on April 10–12, 2024, on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the ICPD. The discussion also covered the progress made in the field of the ICPD Programme of Action since 2014.

Over 300 individuals from 120 countries attended this year's conference, including over 200 lawmakers, ministers, UN representatives, and members of civil society. This was one of the achievements of the conference, where the Azerbaijani parliament was also represented.

In light of the past 30 years, it is evident that issues related to reproductive health, cleanliness, the planet's demographics, appropriate family planning, guaranteeing universal access to healthcare, and strategies for preventing violations of the rights of women and children who need special attention are still important.

Today, during the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the adoption of resolutions and papers pertaining to the protection of human rights, reproductive health, and other comparable liberties was the primary agenda item for the Eight International Parliamentarians’ Conference, which was held in Norway. Implementing the issues expressed in the document adopted in Cairo in 1994 was one of the conference's particular directions.

The Republic of Azerbaijan has been actively participating in all Conferences for the past 30 years, expressing its views on issues related to both human and demographic development while maintaining close ties with the UN Population Fund and taking into account the unique characteristics of the Azerbaijani people within the national context.

It is no secret that, as a result of the First Karabakh War, which broke out in response to Armenia's military aggression, thousands of people were killed, wounded, or captured in newly independent Azerbaijan in the early 1990s, and that nearly a million individuals became internally displaced and refugees. As a result, since 1990, the average annual growth fell even more in a 10-year period, up to 1.3%.

The population of Azerbaijan was 6,400 thousand people in 1994, when the Cairo Document was adopted. And now, with the 30-year ICPD Programme of Action in place, we can see that Azerbaijan's population is expected to reach approximately 11 million by 2024.

This is unquestionably a testament to Azerbaijan's adherence to universal values, the Millennium Development Goals that were enacted in 2000, the Sustainable Development Goals that the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted in 2015, and the appropriate national implementation strategies for these international agreements. In our country, institutions have been established to accomplish the objectives set forth by these universal documents, and a special state commission has been established to carry out these tasks.

The distribution of papers emphasizing the accomplishments of worldwide governments and states in conjunction with the ICPD's 30th anniversary celebrations is a clear indication of the program's expanding reach. Sadly, issues with equality, the violation of women's and children's rights, and people's lack of access to appropriate education and information persist despite the good parts of the work that has been done.

The Eight International Parliamentarians’ Conference's activity also reflected this. The need to create a roadmap for the future is thus reinforced by the particular interest in the experiences of the parliamentarians of Japan and Ireland, the current challenging circumstances facing third-world nations, particularly those in Africa, and the conversations taking place in the parliaments of Muslim states regarding women's equality, rights, and freedoms, as well as the guarantee of universal access to modern healthcare.

In this regard, the adoption by all participants of the Oslo Statement at the Eight International Conference of Members of Parliament on the implementation of the ICPD Action Program will be one of the main goals and objectives of the new world order (https://ipciconference.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/Oslo-Statement-of-Commitment_12-April-2024-12_00-pm-with-logo.pdf).

Mazahir Afandiyev is the Member of the Milli Majlis (the Azerbaijani Parliament).

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