International conventions and agreements on CSE

Understanding the context for CSE

An enabling legal and policy environment is critical to the promotion of sexual health. Although work remains to ensure that the content and delivery of CSE benefits all young people, there is an increasing political commitment to providing CSE worldwide. A majority of countries are now embracing the research and recommendations demonstrating the effectiveness of CSE, and seeking to strengthen its implementation at a national level.

[Source: UNESCO. 2015. Emerging evidence, lessons and practice in comprehensive sexuality education: a global review, 2015.]

Countries have committed at the level of the United Nations General Assembly ‘to accelerate efforts to scale up scientifically accurate, age-appropriate, comprehensive education, relevant to cultural contexts, that provides adolescent girls and boys and young women and men, in and out of school … with information on sexual and reproductive health and HIV prevention, gender equality and women’s empowerment, human rights, physical, psychological and pubertal development and power in relationships between women and men, to enable them to build self-esteem, informed decision-making, communication and risk reduction skills and develop respectful relationships’ (United Nations, 2016).

[Source: GEM Report Team. 2019. Facing the facts: the case for comprehensive sexuality education.]

Selected international conventions and agreements


  • The International Conference for Population and Development (ICPD) Programme of Action, the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of their review conferences, call upon government to: ‘give full attention to meeting the sexual and reproductive health-service, information and education needs of young people, with full respect for their privacy and confidentiality, free of discrimination, and to provide them with evidence-based comprehensive education on human sexuality, sexual and reproductive health, human rights and gender equality, to enable them to deal in a positive and responsible way with their sexuality’.
  • The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is set to: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all stages (SDG3); Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all (SDG4); Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls (SDG5)’.
  • The Human Rights Council calls upon States to: ‘Develop and implement educational programmes and teaching materials, including comprehensive sexuality education, based on full and accurate information, for all adolescents and youth, in a manner consistent with their evolving capacities’.
  • Committee on the Rights of the Child urges States that: ‘Age-appropriate, comprehensive and inclusive sexual and reproductive health education, based on scientific evidence and human rights standards and developed with adolescents, should be part of the mandatory school curriculum and reach out-of-school adolescents’. 
  • Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights recommends: ‘The realization of the right to sexual and reproductive health requires that State parties meet their obligations, such as the right to education on sexuality and reproduction that is comprehensive, non-discriminatory, evidence-based, scientifically accurate and age-appropriate’.