African countries adopt Addis Ababa Declaration
The Africa Regional Conference on ‘Population and Development Beyond 2014′ has ended, with the adoption of an Addis Ababa Declaration.
The declaration was adopted after the two-day ministerial segment of the conference which followed close to two weeks of discussions and debates in pre-events by youth, civil society organisations (CSOs) and experts.
Addis Ababa Declaration
In the 89-paragraph document, African countries committed to formulate policies and implement programmes to promote dignity and equity, health, governance, international cooperation and partnership.
Other issues that were highlighted in the declaration were the integration of migration issues in national development plans and strategies, improvement of the availability of timely data and the utilisation of policy-relevant data for planning, monitoring and evaluation.
The declaration noted the high political commitment on the part of African countries to the implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action, and emphasised that the achievements and significant progress made needed to be sustained.
In order to do so as a region, the African countries committed to ‘mainstream the Addis Ababa Declaration on Population and Development in Africa Beyond 2014 into the work plans of the bodies of the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.
They, further, consecrated to mainstream the inclusion of the declaration in the Post-2015 development agenda to monitor regularly the achievement of the goals of the declaration.
Delegates underscored the need to respond to new and emerging challenges relevant to population and development and to the changing development environment.
They stressed the need to reinforce the integration of the population and development agenda in global processes related to development.
The document reaffirms the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, as well as other international and regional instruments relating to human rights and international law. These include the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, the African Charter on the Right and the Welfare of the Child.
Prior to the adoption, debates had centred on what some considered a loaded emphasis on human rights and fundamental freedoms for all; with controversy emerging on the phrase, ‘without distinction of any kind’ because of its elastic interpretation to meanings that might be unacceptable in Africa for various reasons.
The reservations were raised, in spite of the fact that the three commitments that caused the reservations included a phrase that says, ‘in accordance with national laws and policies.’
After extensive discussions and an informal meeting of heads of delegations, countries agreed on all commitments, except three on which 17 countries have reservations, as is normal in such kind of negotiations.
Some delegates argued, however, that human rights language was key to curbing discriminatory practice on a range of issues such as the protection of Albinos. They stressed that human rights’ language pertaining to freedom of speech and choice are important elements of a people-centred development. The final version of the Addis Ababa Declaration will be made available as soon as possible.
Civil Society Organisations’ pre-event
During their two-day pre-conference deliberations in Adis Ababa, CSOs in Africa commended governments in the continent for the progress made in improving socio-economic conditions of Africans, but urged them to do more to enhance women’s rights.
Progress has been made to improve food security, basic education, child survival, health status of people living with HIV, access to contraception and other reproductive health services, according to a position paper of the CSOs.
‘Some governments have demonstrated high-level leadership, committed considerable resources and adopted innovative strategies towards the realisation of the ICPD Programme of Action,’ the CSOs declared. ‘Progress has also been made in reducing HIV/AIDS prevalence and promoting gender equality, equity and women’s empowerment.’
On the flip side, they observed that unacceptably high proportions of people in Africa still live in abject poverty and bear high disease burdens. They blame this on poor sexual and reproductive health, other infectious diseases and increasingly non-communicable diseases that remain prevalent in Africa.
The Youth Pre-Conference Statement had a strong focus on the rights of young women and other vulnerable groups such as people living with disabilities and HIV/AIDS, and aimed to strongly opine that young people, in all their diversity, could participate in and benefit from the region’s development.
After two days of discussions and information sharing on key issues and challenges young people from across the African continent, the young people identified their priorities in relation to health (including sexual and reproductive health and rights), education, employment, civil participation and peace and security.
By Rosemary Ardayfio/Daily Graphic/Ghana
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