By Samantha Singson

NEW YORK, NY, May 7, 2009 (C-FAM) – The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) recently launched a new petition campaign that aims to pressure governments to “promote, protect and fulfill their promise to provide better access to sexual and reproductive health services” for all young people “regardless of age.” The petition was launched in commemoration of the fifteenth anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD).

The petition promotes the message “Count Me In: Sexual Rights For All.” “Sexual rights,” however, are not included in the ICPD program of action that the IPPF petition campaign is centered around. According to the official conference report, not only is the term not included in the ICPD program of action, but it only appears as part of reservations from countries objecting to any inclusion in the text. To date, the term “sexual rights” has never appeared in any binding, negotiated UN document – attributable to controversy over attempts by some to include abortion within its definition

IPPF also lists advocacy objectives that include pressuring governments “to recognize the right of all young people to make decisions about their own sexual and reproductive health” and to “build momentum for universal access to sexual and reproductive health services around the world.”

IPPF’s new campaign portrays “family planning” as a human right and emphasizes the need for governments and the international community to provide resources. The “15 and Counting” literature states that the campaign was launched not only to mark the ICPD anniversary, but to pressure governments to provide “access to affordable condoms to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections.”

Dr. Susan Yoshihara, director of the International Organizations Research Group, has written about the attempts to link family planning, sexual and reproductive health and rights to HIV/AIDS in order to siphon off HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment funding to use for family planning and abortion.

In her report on the 2007 Women Deliver conference which was supposed to focus on maternal mortality, Yoshihara recounts how prominent UN officials like Nafis Sadik, special advisor to the UN Secretary General for HIV/AIDS, and Thoraya Obaid, executive director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), stated that UNFPA seeks to obtain and use money earmarked for fighting HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis by linking HIV/AIDS to reproductive health.

IPPF executive director, Dr. Gill Greer has been a vocal supporter of this approach. Just last week at an event in Ottawa addressing the lack of access to contraception and family planning, Greer lamented the drop in foreign aid funding for family planning from 40% in 1996 to 5% in 2006 and told a group of Canadian policymakers that “we must emphasize the importance of linking HIV/AIDS to sexual and reproductive rights.”

(This article is reprinted with permission from