White Papers

The White Papers are WYA’s statements in response to current global debates. The White Papers address the most significant topics in global policy discussions and in key international proposals. These papers:

  • are important resources for learning person-centered international policy and human rights issues situated in the context of the dignity of the person;
  • provide accurate information about international law and are based on research and evidence from the field;
  • are designed to equip everyone, from new members to state representatives, with the knowledge to develop policies that are effective and appropriate to their national and local contexts.

The following is a short summary of our current White Papers.    


Assisted Suicide & Euthanasia

This white paper will critically examine the “right to die” and what is required to respect the dignity of each person in end-of-life care in light of law, policy, and practice, with a special concern for the protection of the vulnerable. First, it will discuss assisted suicide and euthanasia within international human rights law, and then provide an overview of existing national and subnational laws permitting the practice. Next it will discuss the primary arguments for assisted suicide, namely autonomy and suffering, and how those arguments fall short, before moving on to concerns about disability prejudice, the risk of coercion, and the effects of the practice on the medical profession. Finally, the paper will discuss how best to care for those approaching the end of their lives in a way that respects their dignity: improved physician-patient relationships in the end-of-life care context, palliative care, and psychosocial support.

Download White Paper (with 2020 Appendix): A4  Letter  |  Download Fact Sheet: A4  Letter


Is surrogacy the answer to infertility, or a violation of women and children’s rights? Is there a human right to have a child? Surrogacy law is emerging as a patchwork among and within countries. In the midst of policy debates, people are entering surrogacy agreements. This paper explains the various types of surrogacy and the difficulty of fitting it into existing areas of law. It also raises concerns related to human dignity and human rights, such as whether surrogacy can be reconciled with a practice that treats women and children like commodities. Lastly, it provides an overview of national, regional, and international legal mechanisms related to surrogacy.

Download White Paper: A4  Letter  |  2020 Addendum  |  Download Fact Sheet: A4  Letter

Sustainable Development

Is limiting population growth a pre-requisite for sustainable development, or is this argument misguided? As the population grows, how can the world continue to meet the needs of each person while sustaining the earth’s resources? This paper introduces the idea of sustainable development as presented in UN conference documents, and examines the dangerous errors in countries’ attempts to limit their populations. This paper discusses earth’s greatest resource – human creativity – and why this is the most effective approach in tackling root causes of poverty and building truly sustainable development.

Download White Paper: Letter2020 Addendum  |  Download Fact Sheet: English  Spanish Download Infographic

Reproductive Health

What is reproductive health and does an international right to this exist? Reproductive health is a key theme in international human rights institutions, including the United Nations. However, inconsistencies in the interpretation of this term allows for ambiguity in the understanding of human rights. This paper presents the definition of reproductive health and associated terms according to international documents from treaties and conferences. Finally, this paper explains the proper understanding of reproductive health in international negotiations and why this is important.

Download White Paper: Letter  |  Download Fact Sheet: English   Spanish

Sexual Education

The international community is currently debating whether international law requires States to educate adolescents and young people about their sexuality. Various non-governmental organizations, United Nations Special Rapporteurs, and treaty-monitoring bodies assert a right to comprehensive sex education, a controversial approach to sex education that arguably encourages adolescents to experiment with their sexuality. This assertion of a right to comprehensive sex education is erroneous and misleading. International human rights are created in two ways: by treaty and by custom. Treaties do not mention comprehensive sex education, or any other form of sex education or training. Custom, found in international consensus documents and other declarations of political will, and confirmed by State practice, holds no universal agreement on sex education. Because neither treaty nor custom creates a right to comprehensive sex education, no such right exists.

Download: Abstract  |  Published Article  | Download Fact Sheet: English  Spanish

Maternal Health

The death of a mother devastates her family and the broader community.  287,000 women died of pregnancy-related causes in 2010. The maternal mortality ratio (MMR) ranges from over 1,000 in the less developed countries to 16 in the most developed countries. This paper details current statistics and primary causes of maternal deaths.  It then presents historical models of maternal mortality reduction and the key interventions necessary to reduce maternal mortality. Finally the paper discusses why abortion services and contraception are unnecessary for reducing maternal morality.

Download White Paper: Letter  |  2020 Addendum  |  Download Fact Sheet: English  Spanish


HIV/AIDS is a global epidemic often mired in politics and foreign aid. This paper examines the science of HIV transmission and presents a person-centered response, focusing on risk avoidance, treatment, care, and support. The paper explores the importance of locally developed intervention strategies and the success of antiretroviral therapy and other treatments in effectively reducing HIV transmission. The paper ends with an analysis of the successes and failures of large, international intervention strategies.

Download White Paper: Letter  |  2020 Addendum  |  Download Fact Sheet: English  Spanish

Family Planning

What exactly does family planning mean in a global health context? Why is an accurate interpretation of the term crucial in international law? Family planning is tied to empowering men and women to determine the number and spacing of their children and improve women’s health. This paper discusses the concept of unmet need for family planning and identifies its shortcomings. It examines the issue in the context of international human rights treaties. Finally, this paper emphasizes the importance of a proper understanding of family planning rights in global health policy.

Download White Paper: Letter  |  Download Fact Sheet: English  Spanish

The Family

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares, “The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.” No other institution is so universally recognized and so strongly affirmed. The World Youth Alliance Fact Sheet on the Family highlights what international and regional human rights treaties say about the family, parents, and children.

Download Fact Sheet: English  |  No white paper on the family has been published by WYA at this time.

European Union (EU) Development Aid and Coercive Practices

Is there a link between EU funding and coercive abortion and sterilization? The EU opposes coercive reproductive health policies and any funding of coercive practices violates both international law and the freedoms that form the guiding principles of the EU. This paper examines coercive reproductive health programs in China and India and outlines EU principles and international law regarding this issue. Finally this paper studies potential funding links to existing coercive programs.

Download White Paper: Letter  |  Download Fact Sheet: English