(15 August 2013) Today, official representatives from 38 member countries and associate members of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) adopted the Montevideo Consensus on Population and Development, which contains a series of agreements to strengthen implementation of population and development issues beyond 2014, at the end of the First session of the Regional Conference on Population and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, which was held from 12 to 15 August 2013 in the capital of Uruguay.
The conference, which was organized by ECLAC and the Government of Uruguay with the support of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), also brought together 24 regional and international agencies and 260 non-governmental organizations, with the total number of participants in excess of 800 people (making it one of the largest intergovernmental meetings in the region in recent years).
The Montevideo Consensus contains over 120 measures concerning the eight priority areas to follow-up the Programme of Action of the United Nations International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Cairo in 1994.
National delegates stated that full integration of population dynamics in sustainable development with equality and respect for human rights must be the guiding framework for strengthening public policies and actions needed to eradicate poverty, exclusion and inequality. In this sphere, they also agreed to apply a human rights approach with a gender and intercultural perspective when dealing with population and development matters, as well as ensuring sustainable production and consumption patterns, in order to avoid exacerbating the undesirable climate change phenomena.
In the first priority area, rights, needs, responsibilities and requirements of girls, boys, adolescents and youths, countries agreed to provide all such groups with the opportunities to live free of poverty and violence, and without any form of discrimination. They also agreed to invest more in youth, particularly in public education, as well as implementing comprehensive sexual and reproductive health programmes, prioritizing the prevention of teenage pregnancy and eliminating unsafe abortions.
As for the second priority area, ageing, social protection and socio-economic challenges, delegates agreed to formulate gender-based policies to ensure a good quality of life in old age, incorporate older adults as a priority focus of public policy and broaden social security and protection systems.
The third priority area relates to universal access to sexual and reproductive health services. They agreed to promote policies to ensure that people can exercise their sexual rights and make decisions in a free and responsible way, with respect for their sexual orientation, without coercion, discrimination or violence. Countries also commit to reviewing legislation, standards and practices that restrict access to reproductive health services and ensuring that access to these is universal. Similarly, they agreed to ensure that there are safe and quality abortion services for women with unwanted pregnancies, in cases where abortion is legal, as well as calling on States to advance towards amending laws and public policies on abortion to protect the lives and health of women and adolescents.
Under the fourth priority area, gender equality, measures agreed by delegates included a commitment to increase equal participation for women in adopting and implementing policies in all spheres of public authority and in highlevel decision-making; enforce preventive actions to help eradicate all forms of violence against women and girls; and guarantee shared responsibility of the State, private sector, the communities, families, women and men in unpaid domestic and care work (by incorporating it into social protection systems).
In terms of international migration and the protection of the human rights of all migrants, delegates agreed to ensure the full inclusion of all related matters in global, regional and national post-2015 development agendas and strategies; provide assistance and protection for migrants; fully respect their rights; and promote the signing of bilateral and multilateral social security conventions that include migrant workers.
Under the sixth priority area, territorial inequality, spatial mobility and vulnerability, representatives agreed to develop more coordinated and cohesive territories by designing and implementing urban management plans with a people-centered approach, as well as planning territorial development with a human rights and gender perspective.
In relation to the seventh priority area - indigenous peoples, interculturalism and rights - countries agreed to respect the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 169 and called on countries to ratify the latter. Countries are called on to guarantee the territorial rights of indigenous peoples and pay special attention to their mobility and forced displacement, as well as developing policies that allow for free and informed consent on matters that affect them.
As for Afro-descendents, rights and combating racial discrimination, countries recommended the application of the provisions of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, as well as addressing the gender, race and intergenerational inequalities, and particularly the discrimination of women and young people in this population group.
At the end of the conference, delegates approved a regional population and development agenda for Latin America and the Caribbean, based on follow-up to the Cairo Programme of Action beyond 2014, and undertook to generate regional machineries to oversee de fulfilment and accountability of this agenda, as well as improving data sources of population and promoting the full independence of national statistics systems.
Countries stated that their agreements represent the input of Latin America and the Caribbean to the meetings of the United Nations Commission on Population and Development and the UN General Assembly that will take place in New York in April and September 2014, respectively.
Lastly, delegates acknowledged and expressed thanks for Uruguay's leadership in its role as host country and chair of the Conference, and approved a motion for the Second session of the Regional Conference on Population and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean to be held in Mexico in 2015.
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