World Leaders Reaffirm 1994 International Vision for Health, Human Rights, and Development

Concerned About The Growing Rich-Poor Gap And The Hiv/Aids Pandemic, Leaders In Government, Business, Science And Religion Urge Priority Funding For Health Care, Education, Women, And Development.

New York, NY

October 14, 2004


Megan Rabbitt

More than 250 global leaders called today for a reordering of international priorities to bring full funding to the historic action plan of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development. The unprecedented World Leaders Statement reaffirmed the value of the ICPD Programme of Action on the eve of a United Nations General Assembly session here that will review progress in the 10 years since the groundbreaking event.

The Programme of Action, a consensus reached by 179 nations in Cairo, Egypt, in 1994, paved the way for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by setting clear, achievable targets related to sexual and reproductive health and rights for all. The targets included universal access to family planning, safe motherhood, treatment and prevention of sexually-transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS; environmental protection; basic education; human rights and women’s empowerment.

Current global spending of $15 billion toward these goals is short of the agreed ICPD 2005 goal of $18.5 billion, with services suffering most in the world’s poorest countries.

The World Leaders Statement was signed by current and former government leaders, Nobel Laureates, scientists, religious officials, youth leaders, and business people. They include British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Prime Minister Paul Martin of Canada, President Vincente Fox of Mexico, and Botswanan President Festus Mogae, and 80 current government leaders; former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, Oscar Arias of Costa Rica, Gro Harlem Brundtland of Norway and Pasqual Mocumbi of Mozambique. The religious leaders include the Rev. Bishop Desmond Tutu and Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales. More than two dozen Nobel Laureates join an equal number of scientific leaders. The business category includes Ted Turner, Roger Sant and Ratan Tata. In addition, leading health and rights leaders, youth leaders and leaders in development (including Muhammad Yunus and Bernard Kouchner) joined top UN officials in the Statement.

“We call on leaders in every walk of life to join us in reaffirming the ICPD’s vision for human development, social justice, economic progress and environmental preservation,” the statement said. “We call on the international community, along with national governments and private philanthropy, to prioritize and fully fund the ICPD Programme of

Presenting the statement to UN Deputy Secretary-General Louise Frechette, businessman and philanthropist Ted Turner said, “This statement is the good news the world is looking for in these troubled times. It underscores the need for cooperation across every sector and country, to realize our shared dream for a world that is equitable, equal, peaceful, and healthy.”

“I want to express my sincere gratitude to everyone involved in mobilizing this incredible roster of supporters from across sectors and regions of the world,” said Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, executive director of UNFPA, the UN Population Fund. “The support provided through the World Leaders Statement complements renewed commitments expressed by the world’s governments in regional meetings convened with UNFPA assistance over the past two years in preparation for the 10-year anniversary.”

The UN Foundation has placed full-page advertisements announcing the World Leaders Statement that will run in the following publications:

The New York Times: Oct. 14
International Herald Tribune: Oct. 14
Asian Wall Street Journal: Oct. 15
O Estado (Brazil): Oct. 22
Daily Nation (Kenya): Oct. 22
Sunday Times (South Africa): Oct. 24



The ICPD Programme of Action’s 20-year vision was agreed to by 179 nations in 1994 to guide national and international family planning, reproductive health, HIV/AIDS prevention, women’s empowerment, and related development efforts. The Programme is a dramatic new approach to population and development, turning away from problematic “population control” programs (centered around demographic targets and sometimes associated with coercive practices) and toward a more human-centered approach that responds to basic needs and universal human rights, with special reference to women.

The ICPD set time-bound targets, including:

• Reproductive health care to all individuals of appropriate age by 2015;

• Sharp reductions in infant and maternal mortality rates and corresponding increases in the proportion of births assisted by skilled attendants;

• Dramatic gains in prevention of HIV/AIDS infection, with special attention to young men and women; and

• Steady progress in global literacy and rapid closure of the gender gap in education.
Achieving these goals is essential to achieving the Millennium Development Goals that were established in 2000 at a UN summit meeting involving most heads of state from around the world. As UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has said, the MDGs cannot succeed without full implementation of the ICPD action plan.


Created in 1998 with a $1 billion gift from entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner, the United Nations Foundation builds and implements public-private partnerships in support of the United Nation’s (UN) efforts to address the most pressing humanitarian, socioeconomic, and environmental challenges facing our world today.