The First International Human Rights in Childbirth Conference
The Hague, The Netherlands
On May 31 and June 1, 2012, over 300 men and women gathered at The Hague University for a conference on Human Rights in Childbirth. The audience and panelists came from dozens of countries around the world. They were lawyers, doctors, midwives, anthropologists, sociologists, ethicists, philosophers, doulas, epidemiologists, politicians, students, and most of all, mothers and fathers. Over two days, this group brought this enormous range of personal, professional, and cultural perspectives to bear on the systematic analysis of the spectrum of issues relevant to human rights in childbirth.
Each day of the conference consisted of four 90-minute panels addressing a different set of issues. May 31 was devoted to international and fundamental human rights in childbirth. June 1 focused on the Dutch birth system, convening as many stakeholders in the Dutch system as possible for dialogue about its past, present and future.
All panels were organized in order to enable robust audience discussion after the panelists presented their ideas and perspectives. For this reason, each panelist was asked to limit his or her presentation to only five minutes. This format was surprisingly effective. Panelists were able to make concise and powerful statements in five minutes. An enormous amount of information was conveyed over each panel and each day. At such a pace, it was impossible to get bored. The format also ensured that, even with panels of 7 or 8 international experts, time remained for wide-ranging open discussion.