Why We Lead is not at the UN Commission on Population and Development

April 26, 2024

Next week, the Commission on Population and Development (CPD57) will take place in New York. Although this historic event marks the 30th anniversary of the Cairo Programme of Action, and the We Lead partnership actively participated in ICPD30 processes, our organizations will not attend.

As Israel is one of the vice-chairs of the commission, we will not participate out of solidarity with the people in the occupied Palestinian territory*.

It is astounding that a UN conference on population and development is being co-chaired by a government that is failing to protect the most basic needs and rights of the population of Gaza, according to two rulings by the International Court of Justice.

According to UN Women, 70 percent of Palestinian civilians killed so far are women and children. Close to one million women have been displaced. The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) has recognized the grievous harm committed against women and girls, including pregnant women and women with disabilities. Access to humanitarian aid, clean water, food and sexual and reproductive health services are intentionally denied by the Israeli government.

That Israel remains as Vice-Chair on behalf of the Western European and Others Group at the UN CPD next week is simply inexplicable, especially after it refused to comply with the UN Security Council’s demand for a ceasefire during Ramadan. Israel’s defiance of the authority of the UN Security Council and the ICJ undermines the entire UN system, as well as the bedrock of international human rights law on which the UN depends.

We continue to recognize the importance of the ICPD agenda as a global commitment to the rights of (young) women, girls and the LGBTIQ+ community. Yet while our We Lead partners work tirelessly to improve the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young women in the MENA region, the attacks on Gaza are wreaking havoc beyond repair.

So in light of the Israeli government’s ongoing massacres of innocent civilians, and complete destruction of civilian infrastructure including the education and healthcare systems, we cannot engage in a serious conversation on human rights under their leadership.

We call for a permanent ceasefire now.

In solidarity,

Marsa Sexual Health Center
Positive Vibes
Restless Development

* The occupied Palestinian territory: the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza