H.E. Courtenay Rattray, Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the United Nations was elected Chair of the 52nd Session of the United Nations Commission on Population and Development, which got underway at United Nations Headquarters in New York on 1st April 2019. Jamaica’s Permanent Representative had led a month’s long negotiating process on a Political Declaration, which was adopted by the Commission via consensus during its second plenary session on Monday. This was a significant achievement as this was the first time in the history of the Commission that Member States have endorsed a Political Declaration. In recent years, the negotiations have foundered on key issues, such as sexual and reproductive health, and became heavily politicized.
The adoption of the Political Declaration comes at a critical time in the life of the Commission on Population and Development as it celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, which was first adopted in Cairo, Egypt in 1994.
The Declaration stresses the critical importance of this ongoing work for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. The 52nd Session has brought together Ministers and other high officials from around the world to critically assess the progress made on population and development matters over the past 25 years, including emerging trends and challenges.
During the opening ceremony, delegates were addressed by top UN Officials, including UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador and actress, Ashley Judd, who emphasized that Member States’ investment in women and girls was essential to the achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She noted that political will and data collection were crucial to delivering on the successful implementation of the SDGs.
Speaking at a press conference following the adoption of the Political Declaration, Ambassador Rattray stated that much progress had been achieved. He cited the reduction in the global under-5 mortality rate from 89 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1994 to 41 in 2019; the increase in global life expectancy at birth, from 65 to 72 years; and increases in the availability and use of modern forms of contraception. Ambassador Rattray, however, stated that “if we do not redouble our efforts to complete the actions called for in Cairo in 1994, it may not be possible to achieve many of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted in 2015”; thereby, highlighting the alignment and interlinkages between the two development agendas. This point was supported by the UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, speaking on behalf of Secretary-
General António Guterres, who warned that efforts on some SDGs were not keeping pace with population growth.
The week long Session will also feature a high level panel on the key findings and recommendations of regional conferences on population and development. It is anticipated that these will further enrich the discussions on the implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action.
April 2, 2019