13 April 2018
Fifty-first Session, 8th Meeting (PM)

Commission on Population and Development Approves Two Decisions, Fails to Adopt Outcome Document for Second Consecutive Year, as Fifty-First Session Concludes

Failing to adopt a final outcome document at the end of its fifty‑first session, participants of the Commission on Population and Development expressed regret that consensus had eluded them for a second consecutive year.

Unable to reach consensus during negotiations, Commission Chair Ion Jinga (Romania) withdrew the text “Sustainable cities, human mobility and international migration” from consideration.  While it was far from perfect, the text struck a delicate balance and had accommodated as many different views and interests as possible within the Commission’s time frame.  It reflected prior negotiations and contributed to the Commission’s theme, without prejudging the global compact on safe, orderly and regular migration.

The representative of the United States said her delegation could not accept the unqualified references in that text to sexual and reproductive health.  While the United States supported the principle of family planning and health care interventions for optimal maternal and child health, the terms included in the text were open to many interpretations, she said, also noting that calls for a sovereignty clause to be included in the draft had not been heeded.

The representative of Uganda, on behalf of the African Group, said while the theme of the Commission’s session was critical for his continent, it could not support the draft.  In particular, the Group wished that it had included the usual sovereignty clause.  Regarding immigration, the Group did not want to pre‑empt negotiations on the global compact for migration and did not accept paragraph 25, which undermined its common understanding on that issue.

Tunisia’s representative, speaking on behalf of a cross‑regional group of countries, voiced regret that for the third time, the Commission had been unable to reach consensus despite joint efforts and constructive engagement throughout the week.  Calling on Member States to give young people their sexual and reproductive health and rights — which were linked to gender equality, economic empowerment, poverty reduction and sustainable development — he noted that such references were notably absent from the draft.

The representative of Brazil, aligning himself with Tunisia, said Member States’ failure to reach consensus had seriously jeopardized the work of the Commission.  Regarding migration, he said States must respect human rights of all migrants, regardless of their status, and a positive narrative needed to be built to ensure migration worked for all.

The Observer of the Holy See, expressing disappointment, said the Commission’s failure to produce an outcome was the result of disregard for red lines articulated by delegates.  There had been an inordinate focus on sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, he said, emphasizing also the principle of State sovereignty.  The Holy See looked forward to a return to authentic consensus and successful Commission outcomes, he said.

Elliot Harris, Assistant Secretary‑General for Economic Development, said that, notwithstanding the Commission’s failure reach consensus on this year’s theme, delegations had reiterated their commitment to fulfil the goals of the International Conference on Population and Development and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  This week’s interventions had illuminated national progress, with an emphasis being put on the special situations of women, girls, adolescents and youth.

Natalia Kanem, Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), said that given the lack of consensus, it would not be possible to fully advance the rights of the beneficiaries of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development.  Affirming the Fund’s commitment to support Member States in achieving the Programme of Action, she said when the Commission met next year, understanding and appreciation would be renewed and re‑energized in order to achieve consensus and ensure that no one was left behind.

Also today, the Commission approved two draft decisions without a vote.  By the first, it decided that the special theme for its fifty‑third session in 2020 would be “Population, food security, nutrition and sustainable development”.

By the second, it decided that future reports on the flow of financial resources for assisting in the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development would be based on official development assistance, tracking resource allocations by all donors, as recorded in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) creditor reporting system.

In other matters, the Commission approved the report on its fifty‑first session (document E/CN.9/2018/L.3), to be completed by the Rapporteur with the support of the Secretariat.  It also approved the provisional agenda for its fifty‑second session (document E/CN.9/2018/L.2).

Upon closure of the fifty‑first session, the Commission immediately held a meeting to elect Yuliana Angelova (Bulgaria) as Vice‑Chair of its fifty‑second session.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Mexico, Algeria, South Africa, Cabo Verde, Philippines and Australia.

The Commission on Population and Development will reconvene at a date and time to be announced.

For information media. Not an official record.