Reproductive Health and Human Rights: The Way Forward

By Laura Reichenbach; Mindy Jane Roseman | Go to book overview

Preface

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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