Where is WYA: Nairobi Summit Edition

This week, WYA is at the ICPD25 Nairobi Summit. Why are we here? What is the Summit? Read more below! 

What is the Nairobi Summit?

The Nairobi Summit is a high-level conference organized by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and co-convened by the Government of Kenya and the Ministry for Development Cooperation of Denmark. It is commemorating the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population & Development (ICPD) held in Cairo in 1994.

That said, its organizers have told States that it is not actually an official U.N. event.

So what happened at the original ICPD?

In Cairo, 179 countries adopted at Programme of Action (PoA), which set out twenty-year commitments in areas such as health, education, population, and migration. It was the first major global conference to discuss and define “reproductive health,” signaling a shift away from population control and towards a rights-based health framework for population and development.

The PoA is not a binding document (unlike a treaty), but has been very influential in international development, including funding. The ICPD also generally discouraged abortion, recognizing that it’s not a method of family planning and that each country has a right to make its own laws, including banning the practice. You can learn more about this conference in WYA’s white paper on reproductive health.

What is happening at the Nairobi Summit?

The Nairobi Summit aims to “to mobilize the political will and financial commitments we urgently need to finally and fully implement the ICPD Programme of Action.” Since the PoA actually concluded in 2014, the original Cairo goals are being connected to the current Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are 17 goals intended to be reached by 2030.

Why is WYA at the Summit?

WYA is at the Summit to represent our 200,000 members from around the world committed to human dignity, solidarity, and authentic development. We’re concerned that the current event does not respect the Cairo agreement and in fact promotes policies, such as abortion and comprehensive sexuality education, which go against human dignity.

What are WYA’s concerns?

Since the announcement of the event, information has been hard to come by, but we knew from UNFPA’s history that they have a strong focus on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), which are widely understood to include abortion, and topics like comprehensive sexuality education, which includes content many consider inappropriate for children (see WYA’s white paper on comprehensive sexuality education).

Although the organizers describe the pledges as implementing the original ICPD, in fact they go far beyond the agreement adopted there. If you look at the event information, you can see that many are claiming that abortion is necessary for health, empowerment, and development. We believe that the Summit was organized outside the usual channels, such as the Commission on Population and Development, in the hope of expanding definitions of rights and increasing funding for controversial programs and policies without regular negotiations.

We also are concerned that Member States that support SRHR will try to incorporate the Nairobi Summit Statement, which goes far beyond the ICPD consensus, into future, official UN documents. The statement also includes a lot of references to the SDGs, which is inappropriate since they are part of a separate, negotiated, and official agreement.

What is WYA hoping to accomplish?

WYA wants to encourage Member States to make commitments in line with the original Cairo consensus, resist the imposition of controversial policies, and recognize that each country has a right to set its own policies about reproductive health. We also want to recognize and encourage the many positive efforts countries have made, such as increasing the number of children in education, promoting equality in education for girls and women, and major strides in reducing maternal mortality.

What can I do?

 You can follow our social media and website for Nairobi Summit updates, read our white papers on sustainable development, reproductive health, and maternal health, and discuss them with your friends. And you can also look for dignity-based solutions and how to implement them in your community—WYA is happy to help.