Reproductive Health and Human Rights: The Way Forward

Reproductive Health and Human Rights: The Way Forward

Reproductive Health and Human Rights: The Way Forward

Reproductive Health and Human Rights: The Way Forward


"Reproductive Health and Human Rights: The Way Forward" critically reflects on the past fifteen years of international efforts aimed at improving health, alleviating poverty, diminishing gender inequality, and promoting human rights. The volume includes essays by leading scholars and practitioners that are centered on the 1994 United Nations International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and its resulting Programme of Action. ICPD, an agreement among 179 governments, UN agencies, and NGOs, was intended to shape population and development policy--reinterpreted and redefined as "reproductive health." More than a decade after the enthusiasm that accompanied ICPD, there is growing concern about its effectiveness in the context of global health and development. "Reproductive Health and Human Rights" addresses that concern.

The book grapples with fundamental questions about the relationships among population, fertility decline, reproductive health, human rights, poverty alleviation, and development and assesses the various arguments--demographic, public health, human rights-based, and economic--for and against ICPD today.

A number of the chapters address institutional challenges to ICPD and consider how the changing political, religious, academic, and disciplinary contexts matter. Other chapters engage operational and conceptual issues and whether ICPD has been able to move the reproductive health agenda forward on topics such as maternal mortality, abortion, HIV/AIDS, adolescents, reproductive technologies, and demography. Finally, several chapters examine how ICPD has been sidelined by emerging health and development agendas and what could be done in response. Unlike any book yet published, "Reproductive Health and Human Rights: The Way Forward" examines the state of the arguments for reproductive health and rights from a multidisciplinary perspective that provides policymakers, scholars, and activists with a better understanding of how reproductive health and rights have developed, their place in the global policy agenda, and how they might evolve most effectively in the future.


Reproductive Health and Rights: the Way Forward is an edited collection of critical essays by leading scholars and practitioners in this protean field. the United Nations held the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo, Egypt, from 5 to 13 September 1994. Its resulting Programme of Action represented a consensus agreement among 179 governments, un agencies, and NGOs, intended to guide the next twenty years of efforts concerning population and development— reinterpreted as “reproductive health.” Although many critics of icpd blame its lack of progress on the diffuse concept of “reproductive health” or on the effect of successful fertility decline in much of the world, among other explanations (Sinding 2006; Blanc and Tsui 2005), this book contends that the Programme of Action still has great merit. the essays in this book examine the diversity of interpretations and applications of icpd that have flourished since its original passage in 1994. These essays consider how the understanding of reproductive health has evolved and provide a vision of how reproductive health and rights continue to be vital to the achievement of international population and development goals.

Understanding where reproductive health and rights fit at the global policy level requires addressing fundamental questions about the relationship between population, reproductive health and rights, and development. What are the underlying arguments for rights or rights-based approaches to reproductive health? What has been the nature of the relationship among population, reproductive health, and poverty reduction, and what are its implications for achievement of the subsequently approved un millennium development goals (MDGs), which did not explicitly address reproductive health as a goal; and what becomes the role for population policy given the current decline in fertility rates to below replacement levels in some countries? Answering these questions requires attention to the various arguments—demographic, public health, human rights-based, and economic—that work both for and against icpd today.

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