International Conference on Population and
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Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development
Chapter 2 : Principles
The implementation of the recommendations contained in the Programme of Action is the
sovereign right of each country, consistent with national laws and development priorities,
with full respect for the various religious and ethical values and cultural backgrounds of
its people, and in conformity with universally recognized international human rights.
International cooperation and universal solidarity, guided by the principles of the
Charter of the United Nations, and in a spirit of partnership, are crucial in order to
improve the quality of life of the peoples of the world.
In addressing the mandate of the International Conference on Population and Development
and its overall theme, the interrelationships between population, sustained economic
growth and sustainable development, and in their deliberations, the participants were and
will continue to be guided by the following set of principles:
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Everyone is entitled to
all the rights and freedoms set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political
or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Everyone has
the right to life, liberty and security of person.
Human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development. They are
entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature. People are the most
important and valuable resource of any nation. Countries should ensure that all
individuals are given the opportunity to make the most of their potential. They have the
right to an adequate standard of living for themselves and their families, including
adequate food, clothing, housing, water and sanitation.
The right to development is a universal and inalienable right and an integral part of
fundamental human rights, and the human person is the central subject of development.
While development facilitates the enjoyment of all human rights, the lack of development
may not be invoked to justify the abridgement of internationally recognized human rights.
The right to development must be fulfilled so as to equitably meet the population,
development and environment needs of present and future generations.
Advancing gender equality and equity and the empowerment of women, and the elimination
of all kinds of violence against women, and ensuring women's ability to control their own
fertility, are cornerstones of population and development- related programmes. The human
rights of women and the girl child are an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of
universal human rights. The full and equal participation of women in civil, cultural,
economic, political and social life, at the national, regional and international levels,
and the eradication of all forms of discrimination on grounds of sex, are priority
objectives of the international community.
Population-related goals and policies are integral parts of cultural, economic and
social development, the principal aim of which is to improve the quality of life of all
Sustainable development as a means to ensure human well-being, equitably shared by all
people today and in the future, requires that the interrelationships between population,
resources, the environment and development should be fully recognized, properly managed
and brought into harmonious, dynamic balance. To achieve sustainable development and a
higher quality of life for all people, States should reduce and eliminate unsustainable
patterns of production and consumption and promote appropriate policies, including
population-related policies, in order to meet the needs of current generations without
compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
All States and all people shall cooperate in the essential task of eradicating poverty
as an indispensable requirement for sustainable development, in order to decrease the
disparities in standards of living and better meet the needs of the majority of the people
of the world. The special situation and needs of developing countries, particularly the
least developed, shall be given special priority. Countries with economies in transition,
as well as all other countries, need to be fully integrated into the world economy.
Everyone has the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical
and mental health. States should take all appropriate measures to ensure, on a basis of
equality of men and women, universal access to health-care services, including those
related to reproductive health care, which includes family planning and sexual health.
Reproductive health-care programmes should provide the widest range of services without
any form of coercion. All couples and individuals have the basic right to decide freely
and responsibly the number and spacing of their children and to have the information,
education and means to do so.
The family is the basic unit of society and as such should be strengthened. It is
entitled to receive comprehensive protection and support. In different cultural, political
and social systems, various forms of the family exist. Marriage must be entered into with
the free consent of the intending spouses, and husband and wife should be equal partners.
Everyone has the right to education, which shall be directed to the full development of
human resources, and human dignity and potential, with particular attention to women and
the girl child. Education should be designed to strengthen respect for human rights and
fundamental freedoms, including those relating to population and development. The best
interests of the child shall be the guiding principle of those responsible for his or her
education and guidance; that responsibility lies in the first place with the parents.
All States and families should give the highest possible priority to children. The
child has the right to standards of living adequate for its well-being and the right to
the highest attainable standards of health, and the right to education. The child has the
right to be cared for, guided and supported by parents, families and society and to be
protected by appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures from
all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment,
maltreatment or exploitation, including sale, trafficking, sexual abuse, and trafficking
in its organs.
Countries receiving documented migrants should provide proper treatment and adequate
social welfare services for them and their families, and should ensure their physical
safety and security, bearing in mind the special circumstances and needs of countries, in
particular developing countries, attempting to meet these objectives or requirements with
regard to undocumented migrants, in conformity with the provisions of relevant conventions
and international instruments and documents. Countries should guarantee to all migrants
all basic human rights as included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
States have responsibilities with respect to refugees as set forth in the Geneva
Convention on the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol.
In considering the population and development needs of indigenous people, States should
recognize and support their identity, culture and interests, and enable them to
participate fully in the economic, political and social life of the country, particularly
where their health, education and well-being are affected.
Sustained economic growth, in the context of sustainable development, and social
progress require that growth be broadly based, offering equal opportunities to all people.
All countries should recognize their common but differentiated responsibilities. The
developed countries acknowledge the responsibility that they bear in the international
pursuit of sustainable development, and should continue to improve their efforts to
promote sustained economic growth and to narrow imbalances in a manner that can benefit
all countries, particularly the developing countries.
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