As the United Nations General Assembly begins its annual high-level session on Monday, world leaders are set to reaffirm their commitments to a UN action plan aimed at placing people at the centre of development, and to consider new population challenges.
A special session of the General Assembly is being convened to mark the 20th anniversary of the landmark International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), providing an opportunity for Heads of State and other Government representatives to examine 20 years of actions taken to improve people's lives and address population issues.
The International Conference, held in Cairo in 1994, was a watershed moment in the history of the debate about the relationship between population and development. The ICPD achieved a remarkable consensus among 179 UN Member States and others that the rights and well-being of individuals should be the central focus of efforts to promote social and economic development.
The Conference produced a Programme of Action that emphasized the importance of protecting human rights, especially those of women and youth, investing in health and education, advancing gender equality and empowering women, and ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights. These actions were seen as central to expanding opportunities for all and crucial for sustainable development.
Now 20 years on, world leaders will gather in New York to review progress made and new challenges, and to recommit themselves at the highest political level to achieving the goals and objectives of the Programme of Action.