We are now turning to a series on the UNESCAP 6th Asia-Pacific Population Conference written by ASAP Youth Champions who were in attendance. This is writen by Faiqoh Rahman from Indoneisa.
The 6th Asia-Pacific Population Conference highlighted discourses on population and development, and aimed to evaluate the implementation of ICPD in every country and to produce a document of recommendations to General Assembly. It was held between 16 – 20 September in Bangkok. Indonesia was one of the countries that participated in the conference.
A total of 130 civil societies and youth organizations took part in the conference. One week before the conference, CSOs gathered and generated a document to be presented at the conference. Youth organizations generated their own statement for 6th APPC. Some of the statements from youth focused on the need for comprehensive sexuality education for all young people regardless of their background; access to safe and legal abortion; and sexual and reproductive health and rights for young people and adolescents.
Many countries reported their successful implementation of the ICPD PoA, but there were some deficiencies particularly in relation to the large number of unsafe abortion that is still happening in many countries. Indonesia also reported their success with the implementation of ICPD based policies, and reported its “Grand Design” to control its population by focusing on the development of young people through pro-growth, pro-poor, pro-job and pro-environment policies.
Though the conference seemed to proceed smoothly, there were a few obstacles. In the senior official segment, the document was reviewed paragraph per paragraph. Though some issues were agreed upon, and did not need any clarifications or comments, other issues such as abortion, sexual rights, sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) provoked incendiary remarks from by many countries. Two countries which directly rejected sexual rights and SOGI terms were Iran and Russia.
But many others countries took up the challenge to propose both issues and retain it in the document. The Pacific Island countries and the Philippines were particularly proactive. Some countries were silent and abstained from commenting, such as Indonesia. Like several other countries, Indonesia was being pressure from both sides, and I realized, that my country had figured that the best possible thing was to be uninvolved in it.
After a week of intense debate, the region overwhelmingly voted to adopt, support and promote progressive language on comprehensive sexuality education, sexual and reproductive rights. This was the first time that such a document mentioned the need to address discrimination faced in SOGI issues. Among the 38 countries that agreed to adopt the final document was Indonesia. Three countries refused to adopt it and one country abstained.
The negotiation was very tiring, but the final document was very good. I became aware that my work as an activist was not over but had just begun. There was much work to be done in our country, and the biggest was ensuring the commitment of our country to the document.