UNITED NATIONS: Toward significant participation of Global South Faith Organizations at UNCPD and other forums, Lessons and Recommendations

Prof Ragab at CPD 2018
NEW YORK, APRIL 14, 2018 (F2A) – The Population Commission was established by the Economic and Social Council in its resolution 3 (III) of 3 October 1946. In its resolution 49/128 of 19 December 1994, the General Assembly decided that the Commission should be renamed the Commission on Population and Development. In the same resolution, the Assembly decided that it, the Council and the Commission should constitute a three-tiered intergovernmental mechanism that would play the primary role in the follow-up to the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, and that the Commission, as a functional commission assisting the Council, would monitor, review and assess the implementation of the Programme of Action at the national, regional and international levels and advise the Council thereon.

The ICPD has gone through many reviews and other important issues emerged. One of the challenges noted in reviews and negotiations is the limited participation of the faith community and lack of diversity of faith voices. This has seen challenges in implementation of decisions at country level once consensus is reached at UN. Some factors that have led to limited participation include lack of space, cost and technical capacity. The Church of Sweden has helped address the three limitations through sponsorship of delegates – cost, registering them with faith organisations with UN accreditation – space, and building their technical capacity through meetings (skype and face to face).

What has been the result of limited participation of faith voices at CPD among other UN forums?

  • Diversity in religious representation lacks in the discussions missing full representation of different perspectives
  • Decisions made will often be perceived to lack legitimacy and ownership among faith organisations and the outcomes fail to be popularized among congregation members and within faith organisations and institutions
  • Decisions will lack support during implementation and fail to be integrated in faith organisations structures and interventions
  • Duplication and parallel implementation of interventions that target same beneficiaries result causing confusion and failing to maximize on meager resources

Within CPD, it is crucial to include diverse religious leaders and faith organisations in discussions and negotiations as they influence policy and decision making at national level.
Based on informal feedback from the Faith to Action Network, Church of Sweden sponsored delegates at CPD. The following were the lessons;

  • Participation of faith groups from global south at UNCPD and other forums is crucial for learning and contribution. This requires investment by partners such as Church of Sweden to facilitate sustainable sponsorship for representatives of global south faith groups.
  • Continuous and early engagement with national authorities on population and development is crucial for religious leaders’ inclusion in country delegation to CPD
  • Religious leaders and faith organisations need technical assistance and capacity building to understand the issues CPD deals with and their synergies, faith values and congregation needs
  • Pre-interfaith consultations and meetings to discuss CPD agenda issues are crucial in providing holistic written faith input to the CPD
    The issues that faith actors are grappling with, including sexual reproductive health and rights, family planning; sexual orientation; gender equality and women’s rights; pluralism, understanding cohesion require long term consultations to reach consensus on common ground
  • Mechanisms and strategies for cascading CPD outcomes among faith organisations should be devised
  • Establishment of a Task Force on Religion and SRHRby UNFPA’s is a great way forward in amplifying the progressive faith voices
    SRHR is broader than abortion and other divisive issues hence faith and faith neutral organisations need to identify consensus issues and avoid the ones that divide to attain critical voice
  • Since in negotiations countries organize themselves on regions, it would be good to know in advance who are the co-chairs/coordinators/facilitators of the groups and how to engage with them. also, identify the group ‘bulldozers’ and ‘diplomats’ and make them allies.

The delegates register their appreciation to Church of Sweden for sponsoring their participation at the CPD and the exposure therein.

For and on behalf:
Name Organisation / Institution Position

Peter K. Munene – Faith to Action Network, Chief Executive Officer

Rgt. Rev. Bishop Stephen Kaziimba – Mityana Diocese – Church of Uganda, Bishop & Faith to Action Network FP Champion
Rev. Dr. Lydia Mwaniki (Ph.D) – All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC), Director – Theology, Family Life and Gender Justice
Prof. Ahmed Ragab – International Islamic Centre for Population Studies and Research, Al-Azhar University, Professor – IICPSR & Vice Chair, Faith to Action Network

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