International recognition of our basic human right to breed or not to breed

1948 UN Declaration of Human Rights includes “the right to marry and to found a family.” However, our right to not breed wasn’t specified.

1968 Proclamation of Teheran, International Conference on Human Rights stated, “The protection of the family and of the child remains the concern of the international community. Parents have a basic human right to determine freely and responsibly the number and the spacing of their children.” Non-parents might also have a right to space their children, they didn't say.

1974 The World Population Plan of Action “recommended that all countries: Respect and ensure, regardless of their over-all demographic goals, the right of persons to determine, in a free, informed and responsible manner, the number and spacing of their children.” And to “Ensure that family planning, medical and related social services aim not only at the prevention of unwanted pregnancies but also at the elimination of involuntary sterility and subfecundity in order that all couples may be permitted to achieve their desired number of children, and that child adoption may be facilitated.”
Having protected our freedom to create as many people as we want, they also recommend that counties “help provide family planning services and to advise users of contraceptives.”

1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women CEDAW recognized that women have “The same rights to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children and to have access to the information, education and means to enable them to exercise these rights.” Zero is a number, so the right to not breed may be inferred. The US is one of the few countries which has not yet ratified CEDAW.

1994 UN International Conference on Population & Development in Cairo reaffirmed “... the basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so...” And added a significant caveat: “In the exercise of this right, they should take into account the needs of their living and future children and their responsibilities towards the community.” Needs of the non-human community are beyond the scope of this conference.

1995 Fourth World Conference on Women Beijing China declared “The explicit recognition and reaffirmation of the right of all women to control all aspects of their health, in particular their own fertility, is basic to their empowerment.” 15 year review.

2000 Millennium Development Goals were agreed upon by the UN General Assembly:
Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education
Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
Goal 4: Reduce child mortality
Goal 5: Improve maternal health
Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development
Reproductive freedom hides in Goal 3 and is absent from the website’s targets: improving gender equality in education, employment, and political representation. However, a PDF of Chapter 4, “Guarantee sexual and reproductive health and rights,” includes the right to choose “Whether to have children, when to have them, how many to have, and which sexual partners to have,” and acknowledges that without respect for women’s “right to control their fertility and sexuality,” the other Goal 3 targets can’t be achieved. Text of original MDG agreement.


On 6 September 2000, these 150 world leaders signed the Millennium Declaration, a great step forward for gender equality.

2010 UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, known as UN Women, was established by unanimous vote of the General Assembly July 2, 2010 “to accelerate progress in meeting the needs of women and girls worldwide.” Beginning January 1st 2011, UN Women consolidates four existing women’s issues groups with double their combined funding.

March 2013 The elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls, from the 57th Commission on the Status of Women. Includes, “...respecting and promoting sexual and reproductive health, and protecting and fulfilling reproductive rights in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development [Cairo 1994], the Beijing Platform for Action [1995] and the outcome documents of their review conferences, is a necessary condition to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women to enable them to enjoy all their human rights and fundamental freedoms, and to prevent and mitigate violence against women.” Opposition to this historic global agreement was overcome thanks mainly to the efforts of Michelle Bachelet, head of UN Women.

Return to POLITICS
Return to OPPOSITION