CRR, ACPD, and EIPR Applaud 108 Countries' Call for U.N. to Address Maternal Deaths and Disabilities as Human Rights Issue

Press Release

21 June 2010

The Center for Reproductive Rights, Action Canada Population and Development (ACPD), and the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) praised a group of United Nations Human Rights Council member states and observer states for calling on the U.N. to address pregnancy-related deaths and injuries around the world as a human rights issue. In a joint statement, 108 states acknowledged a recent study by the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) stating unequivocally that preventable maternal mortality and morbidity is a matter of human rights, and that a human rights-based approach is critical to addressing the global problem. The states also recommended that the OHCHR raise the issue before the U.N. General Assembly scheduled to meet in September to review global progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals.

"This week's developments signal agreement between countries around the globe that governments must be held accountable when they fail to take concrete action in reducing the pregnancy and childbirth-related complications that claim over 500,000 women each year," said Ximena Andión, international advocacy director at the Center for Reproductive Rights. "This is a milestone in the global battle to address maternal health. We strongly urge the General Assembly to follow suit."

"The panel and the OHCHR report are important steps in the path to addressing a problem of such magnitude," said Dalia Abdel-Hameed from EIPR. "The countries that refrained from supporting these steps displayed a lack of commitment and will in eliminating preventable maternal mortality."

The OHCHR report addresses the five major causes of preventable maternal mortality, including unsafe abortion. It also specifically discusses the seven key human rights principles that should be considered in addressing preventable maternal mortality and morbidity, including accountability, participation, transparency, empowerment, sustainability, non-discrimination and international assistance and cooperation. The report further emphasizes that maternal mortality and morbidity reflect stark inequalities and multiple forms of discrimination and violence faced by women and girls throughout their lifetimes, and that sustainable progress can only be made by ensuring the guarantee of the full range of women's human rights, including sexual and reproductive rights.

The Center, ACPD, and EIPR participated in a larger advocacy effort to generate the support necessary for the 108 countries to issue a joint statement. The 108 countries are Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Bolivia, Botswana, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Canada, Cambodia, Cameroon, Chile, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte D'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, France, Gabon, Ghana, Germany, Guinea, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Korea, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Lichtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Maldives, Malta, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uganda, Uruguay, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, and Zambia.