Ban Ki-moon on the General Assembly podium with GA President Sam Kahamba Kutesa by his side.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (at left) speaks at the opening of the 29th Special Session of the General Assembly. GA President Sam Kahamba Kutesa is by his side. UN Photo/Kim Haughton

29th Special Session of the UN General Assembly, 22 September 2014, New York


Progress and unfulfilled promise

The year 2014 marked the twentieth anniversary of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo. That conference had achieved a remarkable consensus among 179 UN Member States and others that the rights and well-being of individuals should be the central focus of efforts to promote social and economic development. The Cairo conference had produced a Programme of Action that emphasized the importance of protecting human rights, especially those of women and youth, investing in health and education, advancing gender equality and empowering women, and ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights. These actions were seen as central to expanding opportunities for all, and crucial for sustainable development. In 2014, twenty years after the Cairo Conference, the 29th Special Session of the General Assembly convened, so world leaders could review progress made since that historic 1994 conference, address new challenges, and recommit themselves to achieving the goals and objectives of its Programme of Action.

It was stated at the Special Session that progress since 1994 had been remarkable in many areas, but unequal, often hampered by discrimination and inequality.

So many of the promises of the 1994 Cairo Conference remained unfulfilled.