Commission on Population and Development Concludes Session with Consensus Adoption of Broad Resolution on Human Rights Protection of Migrants

26 April 2013

Commission on Population and Development Concludes Session with Consensus Adoption of Broad Resolution on Human Rights Protection of Migrants

26 April 2013
Economic and Social Council
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Commission on Population and Development

Forty-sixth Session

9th Meeting (PM)

Commission on Population and Development Concludes Session with Consensus Adoption


of Broad Resolution on Human Rights Protection of Migrants


Provisions on Reproductive Health Draw Debate; Division Chief Says Migration,

‘Enabler of Sustainable Development’, Should Be Integrated into Post-2015 Agenda

The Commission on Population and Development, adopting a consensus resolution as it closed its forty-sixth session late in the evening, called on States to promote and protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants and to take a comprehensive and balanced approach to the increasingly complex issue of migration.

Also by the terms of the wide-ranging resolution — which was prepared by Commission Chair Vladimir Lupan (Republic of Moldova) and adopted by consensus following a stalemate in negotiations — the Commission reaffirmed the Programme of Action of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, held in Cairo, and the key activities needed for its further implementation, as well as the sovereign right of each country to implement the Programme’s recommendations, consistent with national laws and development priorities.

Further to the text, the Commission called on States to ensure that migration was integrated into national and sectoral development policies, strategies and programmes.  Due consideration should be given to the linkages between migration and development in the further implementation of the Action Programme beyond 2014 and in the elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda.

Calling, in particular, for the protection of the rights of migrant women and children, the Commission recognized that the full implementation of the Cairo Programme of Action and the key actions required — including those related to sexual and reproductive rights — were integrally linked to global efforts to eradicate poverty and to achieve sustainable development, and that population dynamics were all-important for development.

In that vein, a number of distinct positions emerged throughout the meeting on the thorny issue of sexual and reproductive health.  Despite the resolution’s adoption by consensus, several delegates, such as the representative of Nigeria on behalf of the African Group, underscored his concern that the resolution accorded “too much prominence” to those issues and too little attention to basic rights, such as to food, education and employment.

The representative of Honduras issued a reservation to the text following its adoption, underscoring its understanding that the Cairo Programme of Action did not include abortion, or the interruption of pregnancy, as a method of family planning.  Honduras wished to make clear its position that sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, as referred to in the Cairo plan, did not contemplate abortion.

In contrast, however, a number of other speakers — including the representative of the United States, who also spoke following the adoption — welcomed the recognition throughout the text of the central importance of sexual and reproductive health services and the protection of reproductive rights, especially for migrant women and girls who needed those services “no matter where they live”.

Similarly, the representative of Brazil felt that a “gender-responsive perspective”, including for sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, should be incorporated into all policies and programmes on international migration.  Though not as ambitious as it could have been, the resolution was a very important step forward to address the rights of migrants, she added.

“Migration has a feminine face,” said Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), as he issued closing remarks.  An increasing number of migrants were women and children who bore the brunt of human rights violations around the world.  In that regard, it was appropriate that the Commission had recognized the central role of sexual and reproductive rights and had given it prominent visibility.

“Women make communities.  Women make families.  Women make economies grow,” he stressed.  Of course, rights in general must continue to be addressed, “but we must place emphasis where it deserves to be”.  It was essential that, in all future considerations of migration and population and development, the rights of women were protected and safe spaces were created for them.  Indeed, it was not just about economic or political rights, but about reproductive rights. “I want to thank you all for asserting that,” he said.

John Wilmoth, Director of the Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, also made several remarks on behalf of Under-Secretary-General Wu Hongbo.  Reviewing the Commission’s deliberations over the past week, he said that, above all, it had “kept the main focus on migrants themselves — people from near and far who often take great risks to improve the circumstances of themselves and their families”.

The facts were clear, he said.  The number of migrants was growing, internally and internationally, and women and young people now accounted for an important share of that global phenomenon.  The Commission’s deliberations had demonstrated once again that migrants’ rights must be protected in all situations, and members had identified the actions required to accelerate the achievement of the goals of the Cairo Programme of Action.

Further, the Commission’s deliberations would inform the General Assembly’s second High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development in October, he said, adding that its discussions would also provide input to the ongoing formulation of the post-2015 development agenda.  “Migration, as an enabler of sustainable development, should be fully integrated into this agenda,” he said.

Also issuing brief closing remarks was Mr. Lupan, the Commission’s Chair.The draft resolution was introduced by the Vice-Chair and Rapporteur of the Commission, Marianne Odette Bibalou (Gabon).

In other business today, the Commission adopted the draft provisional agenda for its forty-seventh session (document E/CN.9/2013/L.2).  It then adopted a draft decision designating the forty-eighth session’s theme in 2015, “Realizing the future we want:  integrating population issues into sustainable development, including in the post-2015 development agenda” (document E/CN.9/2013/L.4).

The Commission also took note of a report of the Secretary-General entitled “Programme implementation and progress of work in the field of population in 2012:  Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs (document E/CN.9/2013/6), and a draft programme of work of the Population Division for the biennium 2014-2015 (document E/CN.9/2013/CRP.1).

In addition, the Commission adopted the report of its forty-sixth session (document E/CN.9/2013/L.3).

Following immediately upon the closure of its forty-sixth session, the Commission opened its forty-seventh session.  Elected by acclamation was Gonzalo Koncke (Uruguay) as Chair, as well as the following Vice-Chairs:  Fatou Niang (Senegal), from the Group of African States; Elene Agladze (Georgia) from the Group of Eastern European States; and Eva Raabyemagle (Denmark) from the Group of Western European and Other States.  The Commission deferred until its next meeting the election of a Vice-Chair from the Group of Asia-Pacific States.

Also speaking during the close of the forty-sixth session were the representatives of Syria, Fiji (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Egypt (on behalf of the Arab Group), Tunisia, Sudan, Qatar, Mexico, Poland, Philippines, Russian Federation, Hungary, El Salvador, Chile, Costa Rica, Norway, Malta, Kenya, Switzerland, Bangladesh and the European Union delegation.

An observer for the State of Palestine and the Permanent Observer of the Holy See also participated.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.