Doc. 9928

26 September 2003

State of the world population
Recommendation 1564 (2002)

Reply from the Committee of Ministers

adopted at the 853rd meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies (24 September 2003)

1.       The Committee of Ministers took note with interest of Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1564 (2002) on the state of the world population and has brought it to the attention of their governments. It also forwarded the recommendation for information to the Steering Committee for Equality between Women and Men (CDEG) and to the European Population Committee (CAHP)

2.       As a general remark the Committee of Ministers reiterates its commitment to the 15 underlying principles of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). It joins the Assembly in encouraging member states to reaffirm their support for achieving the goals and objectives of that programme.

Draft recommendation on the right to free choice in matters of sexuality and reproduction (Paragraphe 7i )

3.       The Committee of Ministers draws the Assembly’s attention to its reply to Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1515 (2001) on demographic change and sustainable development in which it stated that the substantial differences in legislation and practice with regard, for example, to abortion and sex education made it impossible to reach a compromise solution acceptable to all member states.

4.       The Committee of Ministers still considers that, at this stage, it is not appropriate to prepare a recommendation based on the concept of right to free choice in matters of sexuality and reproduction, which remains open to discussion in legal terms. However, the Committee of Ministers, recognising the importance of the underlying concerns, believes that work on the subject should be incorporated as far as possible into the CDEG’s other activities, and as part of a more intensive use of the mainstreaming approach to equality between women and men involving other steering committees concerned with these issues, for example in the area of population and health.

5.       In this context, the European Population Committee (CAHP) is pursuing its activities on reproductive health behaviour of young Europeans. Studies on sexual and reproductive behaviour of adolescents and on contraceptive practices and abortion among adolescents have been published. Work in 2003 focuses on the role of education and information in reproductive health. Awareness raising and education, targeting both women and men, are effective ways of achieving behavioural change and sustainable improvements in sexual and reproductive health.

Monitoring ICPD issues and commitments

6.       Despite the importance it attaches to the ICPD commitments, the Committee of Ministers is not convinced of the need for the Council of Europe to play a more active role in their monitoring which would risk duplicating the role of the other international organisations concerned. However, ICPD issues will remain an important guideline for the work undertaken by the Council of Europe in related areas.