Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations
Commission on Population and Development
Nations Headquarters, New York, 10 April 2014
My delegation takes this opportunity to express its best
wishes to you and your Bureau for a productive session, and looks forward to
working constructively with delegations as we assess the implementation of the
Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and
According to the report of the
Secretary General, no fewer than 80 countries now register a fertility rate
below replacement level. These statistics should be a great cause for
alarm, as expressed in another report of the Secretary
support ratios, defined as the number of working-age adults per older person in
the population, are already low in most countries of the more developed regions
and are expected to continue to fall in the coming decades, ensuring continued
fiscal pressure on support systems for older people."
The unsustainable phenomenon of ageing populations can only be resolved
by promoting family life and fertility.
Support systems for the ageing can only be sustained by a larger, not
smaller, next generation, either by paying into a social security system, or by
providing intergenerational family support directly.
My delegation wishes to express grave concern over a very
proscriptive approach taken in the zero draft of the outcome document, towards
the implementation of the ICPD. This approach seems to treat fertility and
pregnancy as a disease which must either be prevented or managed via government
or outside assistance. While this may well reflect the concerns of certain
highly developed countries, on a universal scale it certainly skews the
population and development realities for the most part of the developing
countries of the world, for whom other issues take greater priority. My
delegation is of the view that a more sensible approach should focus less on reducing
fertility and more on programs and values which support integral human
development, namely: personal, social, and spiritual development. Access to
education, economic opportunity, political stability, basic health care, and
support for the family should serve as the key priorities for achieving such
integral human development.
An issue of great international sensitivity is an insistent
promotion of so-called sexual and reproductive “rights”, almost to the
exclusion of any other issue. This reflects an
improper overtaking of the ICPD Programme of Action by efforts to promote the
legalization and/or liberalization of abortion laws, whether by Member States
or some UN Agencies, who openly promote laws providing for legal abortion.
However, the Programme of Action in no way promotes abortion, but
expressly repudiates it as a mean of controlling families or the population.
The ICPD denies that it creates any new rights in this regard. Such laws and policies remain the prerogative
of individual Member States according to the Programme of Action. All States
emphasized at Cairo that Governments should help women avoid recourse to
Pope Francis recently addressed this issue:
"Among the vulnerable for whom the church wishes to care with
particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenseless and
innocent among us. Nowadays efforts are made to deny them their human dignity
and to do with them whatever one pleases, taking their lives and passing laws
preventing anyone from standing in the way of this. … [T]he church cannot be
expected to change her position on this question… It is not ‘progressive’ to
try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life…"
The Holy See continues to serve at the front-line addressing
greater global poverty, human rights and development. Through its presence and
emphasis on providing quality and affordable education, health care, access to
food and respect for all human rights, the Holy See demonstrates that care and
compassion for the poor, rather than focusing on fertility reduction, serves as
a model for a truly human-centered approach to development.
Thank You Mr. Chairman
See OHCRH and UNAIDS, International Guidelines on HIV/AIDS
and Human Rights, 2006 Consolidated Version, pg. 35:“Laws should also be enacted to ensure women’s
reproductive and sexual rights, … including safe and legal abortion …”,