Montevideo Consensus Affirms Sexual Rights

On August 15, the first session of the Regional Conference on Population and Development concluded as representatives of 38 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean adopted an historic agreement: the Montevideo Consensus on Population and Development. At this meeting to asses progress towards implementing the Cairo Programme of Action, governments recognized the important connections between sexual and reproductive health and rights and the global development agenda. More than 250 members of civil society—including IPPF/WHR and our Member Associations—helped forge this victory.

The Consensus is the first UN agreement to include a definition of sexual rights, "which embrace the right to a safe and full sex life, as well as the right to take free, informed, voluntary and responsible decisions on their sexuality, sexual orientation and gender identity, without coercion, discrimination or violence."

The Consensus also calls on governments to:

- Uphold the right of young people and adolescents to youth-friendly and confidential sexual and reproductive health services; "guarantee access to safe and effective modern contraceptive methods"; and "enable young people to have a responsible, pleasurable and healthy sex life."

- "Reaffirm that a secular State is one of the elements fundamental to the full exercise of human rights, the deepening of democracy, and the elimination of all forms of discrimination."

- "Review legislation, standards and practices that restrict access to sexual and reproductive health services."

- Eliminate preventable deaths from unsafe abortions and consider amending laws and policies regarding the voluntary termination of pregnancy to improve the quality of life for women and girls.

- Adopt measures to "eradicate all forms of violence and stigma" against women and girls and "ensure effective and universal access to fundamental services for all victims and survivors of gender-based violence, with special attention to women in high-risk situations, such as older women, pregnant women, women with disabilities, culturally diverse groups, sex workers, women living with HIV/AIDS, lesbians, bisexuals, transsexuals, Afro-descendent, indigenous and migrant women, women living in border areas, asylum-seekers and victims of trafficking."

According to Director of Advocacy Maria Antonieta Alcalde, "The Montevideo Consensus is an historic victory for women, men, and young people throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. In recent years, our region has been the frontrunner in progressive, forward-looking policies, and the Montevideo Consensus is no exception. With governments poised to adopt a new global development framework, this agreement will help ensure that sexual rights and reproductive rights remain at the center of efforts to reduce poverty and improve the well-being of individuals, communities and nations."



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