• Discussion Paper

A contested issue

The rise in international opposition to the right to sexual self-determination

Cover A contested issue Open image in Lightbox

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At the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), held in Cairo in 1994, the international community agreed on the universal right to freely decide on the number and spacing of children and to receive the information and means to do so. Self-determination – especially for women – is key to sustainable development. However, progress in the area of sexual and reproductive health and rights has been slow, partly due to greater opposition to the goals of the Cairo Programme of Action (PoA). The discussion paper sets out the arguments put forward by opponents like the Vatican, evangelical Christians in the USA and "anti-choice" movements in Europe that aim to undermine implementation of the ICPD goals.

The Berlin Institute would like to thank the Dirk Rossmann GmbH for funding this project. The Berlin Institute is solely responsible for the content of this report. The Berlin Institute would also like to thank the DSW – Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung for funding the translation of the discussion paper.

Category: International population policies
published: 4th November 2019

Selected Figures

Maternal Mortality Ratio 2017
At the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo in 1994, representatives from the international community agreed to reduce the risk of maternal and infant mortality and to improve health care. Despite some progress, less developed countries still lag behind in the health sector. For example, in Sub-Saharan Africa maternal mortality was around 550 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2015. This is almost 36 times higher than in North America or Europe.© Berlin-Institut
Enactment and abrogation of the Mexico City Policy
No other country in the world has zigzagged as much as the United States of America on the issue sexual self-determination in the last 35 years. Under a Democratic president, the United States is usually among the proponents of SRHR. However, when Republicans take over, the pro-life activists who are trying to undermine those rights are the ones who set the tone. This has been reflected by the enactment and abrogation of the Mexico City Policy. According to this policy, foreign NGOs cannot receive US development funds if they are in any way involved with abortion – that is, if they offer information and counselling for affected women, perform abortions or work towards their legalisation.© Berlin-Institut
Contraception Atlas 2019
The EU is seen as an advocate for freedom of choice in all matters of reproduction and sexuality. Europe has made great progress in this area since 1994. Nevertheless, the possibilities for Europeans to plan their own family and determine their own reproduction vary greatly between countries. This is illustrated by the Contraception Atlas of the European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive Rights (EPF), which assesses access to information, counselling and family planning resources in the EU and other European countries using 15 indicators.© Berlin-Institut


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