News – Article

No concensus on sexuality education at UN, despite tremendous efforts

Back to archive
26 April 2023 Tags: Commission Population Development, comprehensive sexuality education, CPD, UN

After several weeks of negotiations and tireless efforts of UN Member States, Rutgers regrets a resolution could not be adopted by consensus on population, education and sustainable development at the Commission on Population and Development (CPD). “The pushback by anti-rights forces prevented an agreement from being made.”

Despite the fact that a balanced compromise text was presented by the Chair on April 14, UN Member States were unable to agree on previously agreed language on comprehensive education on human sexuality. We had hoped for new commitments to further the implementation of comprehensive sexuality education (CSE), as a proven intervention that benefits the health and well-being of adolescents and young people.

Evi van den Dungen, Senior Advisor Advocacy at Rutgers: “After weeks of negotiations, till 4 a.m. and several rounds of compromise proposals Member States found themselves at a stalemate. Commitments that could have furthered the prevention of sexual and gender-based violence, adolescent pregnancies, STI’s and HIV and improved the health and well-being of future generations.”

Sexuality education and sustainable development go hand in hand

For Rutgers and other progressive NGOs it was important to link the benefits of comprehensive sexuality education with other goals under the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action (ICPD) and the Sustainable Development Goals. Referencing these benefits was one of Rutgers’ main advocacy targets during the 56th Commission on Population and Development (CPD).

Sexuality education can prevent sexual and gender-based violence, adolescent pregnancies and STIs and thereby improves young people’s health and well-being. It also equippes them with the skills needed to manage their health and form equal, fulfilling, and safe relationships, free from discrimination, coercion and violence. For women and girls’ empowerment, it is essential that they can go to school and are not hindered by ill (sexual and reproductive) health, gender-based violence or harmful practices, such as child marriage or female genital mutilation.

“Every year that adolescents and young people don't have access to accurate and evidence-based information on their bodies and their rights, they miss opportunities for a brighter future”
Tweet this text

However, the consensus on the document was unfortunately broken by a few Member States. They were unable to accept the language in the document that originates from this very Commission in 2014.

It is disappointing that the objection to agreed language prevailed over adopting meaningful advancements in the area of education.

However, a larger cross-regional group of Member States strongly defended sexual and reproductive health and rights in a strong statement.

The plenary agenda of CPD56, featured compelling data from UN agencies on the benefits of CSE on children, adolescents and young people. Several NGO representatives and young advocates spoke about their best practices and lived realities showing the benefits that CSE has for many .

Although a resolution was not adopted, during the plenary debates, member states, UN agencies and civil society showed strong support and dedication to the ICPD agenda, SRHR and showed the evidence for comprehensive sexuality education.
Evi van den Dungen, Senior Advisor Advocacy

Rutgers at the 56th Commission on Population and Development

Rutgers was again strongly engaged in the advocacy around the CPD. Our Senior Advisor Advocacy, Evi van den Dungen, was part of the Dutch government’s delegation to the CPD to provide text suggestions to the drafts of the resolution on behalf of civil society. Rutgers is an active member of the International Sexual and Reproductive Rights Coalition (ISRRC). During two NGO consultations on the zero-draft resolution, several ISRRC members including Rutgers gave statements. Also, at the general debate section of the commission Rutgers advocate Yordanos Wolde held a personal statement on the importance of information on sexual and reproductive health.

We believe that the CPD remains one of the critical places for countries and civil society to discuss and progress on their commitments to sexual and reproductive health and rights – which are also part of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development (SDG 3.7 and 5.6). The COVID-19 pandemic has been harmful to the implementation of the ICPD agenda, and the backdrop has to be restored quickly.

Want to stay in the know?

Join our network and stay up to date.

Follow us or get in contact


Read our latest articles, studies and columns on sexual health and rights.

All news

Uw browser (Internet Explorer 11) is verouderd en wordt niet meer ondersteund. Hierdoor werkt deze website mogelijk niet juist. Installeer Google Chrome of update uw browser voor meer internetveiligheid en een beter weergave.