Report: The UN Commission on Population and Development (CPD54)

The UN Commission on Population and Development concluded its annual session (CPD54) at the end of April with the adoption of a negotiated document on “Population, Food Security, Nutrition and Sustainable Development.”


This is the first consensus outcome document coming from the Commission in five years. The last four sessions of the Commission failed to reach an agreement because of the insistence of powerful nations to include controversial language on abortion, comprehensive sexuality education and LGBT-related issues.


Family Watch has reported extensively on this Commission for many years, highlighting the strong pushback from the African Group and others against these controversial demands.


Indeed, Family Watch has been on the battlefront advising Member States and lobbying against dangerous language in the past. This year, the virtual format of CPD54 made the work even more challenging.


An African diplomat was chair of CPD this year with Ambassador Yemdaogo Eric Tiare from Burkina Faso facilitating the work of the Commission. There was intense pressure on Member States to reach an agreement on the important theme of nutrition and food security, yet Canada, Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Mexico insisted on bringing the same controversial and extremely divisive issues to the negotiations.


However, we are pleased to report that their efforts were defeated, and the document issuing from the Commission this year, although not perfect, can certainly be counted as a victory for pro-life and pro-family advocates. The agreement does not include “comprehensive sexuality education,” references to “sexual rights,” or language understood to promote LGBT policies. You can see the final document here.


Some comments made by diplomats during the concluding session of the Commission:


Yemdaogo Eric Tiare (Burkina Faso), Chair of the 54th session, reported that the Commission delved deep into the links between food security, nutrition and development.


The Representative of Morocco speaking on behalf of 54 African countries said, “We are really proud of gaining consensus once again under African leadership.”


The representative of Egypt welcomed the consensus outcome, as well as the flexibility and constructive engagement of delegations that enabled its adoption and echoed other speakers in stressing that language on universal access to reproductive rights, as well as the definition of “reproductive rights” must be viewed in line with national legislation.


Qatar’s representative also insisted that such language must be interpreted through the lens of national laws.


The representative of Nicaragua said the resolution’s language on sexual and reproductive rights paragraphs cannot be interpreted as support for abortion, which must never be viewed as a method of birth control or family planning.


The Russian Federation’s representative voiced support for the adoption of a consensus-based resolution and welcomed the references in the text to food security, eliminating poverty, and strengthening food safety and social protection measures but expressed regret that the text lacked attention to policies aimed at supporting the family. He also pointed out that the so-called Nairobi Summit of 2019, which was held outside the United Nations framework, has no bearing on Member States’ commitments.


The representative of Guatemala, while emphasizing that the elimination of gender-based violence and achieving gender equality are key to ensuring food security and fighting malnutrition, expressed reservations regarding paragraphs referring to sexual and reproductive health and rights for which there is no internationally agreed definition.


The representative of Iraq echoed those points.


The representative of Brazil commented that every country has a sovereign right to implement recommendations according to their own laws and values.


The Permanent Observer for the Holy See welcomed several positive elements in the outcome document, including language reaffirming the right of all people to healthy and nutritious food but voiced regret over the absence of references to family-sensitive policies and expressed reservations on the terms “sexual and reproductive health and rights,” which the Holy See views as applying to a holistic vision in accordance with moral norms. Stressing that abortion, as well as access to abortion and to abortifacients, cannot be viewed as a manifestation of those terms. He said there is no change to the Holy See’s longstanding position on the term “family planning” or to its view that the term “gender” is grounded in biology.


A spokesperson for the UNFPA, the UN agency that implements the population policies of the United Nations expressed disappointment that the more progressive social policies were not adopted by the Commission.


During the week of the Commission, Family Watch co-sponsored an official virtual side event in partnership with the Center for Family and Human Rights and the Heritage Foundation.


Click here to watch a recording of the side event.


Moderated by Laura Cunliffe, Former Chief of Staff, U.S. Mission to the UN in Geneva, the event titled “Putting the Family Back at the Center of Development” focused on the following topics:


The Family in International Law
Stefano Gennarini, J.D., VP for Legal Studies, C-Fam

The Future of the Geneva Consensus Declaration
Valerie Huber, Architect of GCD, Formerly with the Trump Administration


Governments wishing to sign on to the Geneva Consensus Declaration and NGOs interested in becoming friends of the GCD are encouraged to contact Valerie Huber at this email address:


The Family as the Primary Educator of Their Children
Sharon Slater, President, Family Watch International

What Women Want
Rebecca Oas, Ph.D., Director of Research, C-Fam


Emerging Threats to the Family
Grace Melton, Senior Associate for Social Issues at the UN, The Heritage Foundation


The conclusion of the Commission on Population and Development signals the end of the UN Commission season for the year.


Family Watch will be there again at CPD next year, as always, to protect the family, life, and children.