NGOs urge world leaders to pursue rights-based development agenda

NGOs urge world leaders to pursue rights-based development agenda

Photo source or description

[JURIST] A group of international non-governmental organizations released a joint statement [text, PDF] Friday urging world leaders to establish a global development framework that prioritizes human rights and normative justice over aid-based models after the expiration of the UN’s eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) [official website]. In July 2012 the UN established a 26-member panel [press release] to draft plans for a replacement global development agenda. The panel’s report is reportedly due [AI report] to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [UN profile] by the end of May. The NGOs are pressing for a framework that empowers people “as human rights-holders” to hold governments, businesses, international institutions and other development actors accountable for their actions beyond borders. The report lays out nine post-2015 development priorities, including stronger protection of fundamental economic, social, cultural and environmental rights, and improved transparency in decision-making “at all levels.” The report elaborates:

A sustainable development framework founded in human rights can serve as an instrument for people and countries to help unseat the structural obstacles to sustainable, inclusive and just development, and stimulate implementation and enforcement of all human rights–civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, the right to development and to environmental protection…At a time of great uncertainty, multiple crises and increasing insecurity and conflict, let us not found the 21st century sustainable development framework on ‘bracketed rights’ and broken promises, but instead on a bold reaffirmation of human rights for all.

According to Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website], the MDGs have not been effective in addressing inequality, and new directives must be anchored in an understanding of the “interdependence of socio-economic deprivation and democratic failures” in light of popular uprisings around the world.

The 192 nations that comprise the UN membership adopted the UN Millennium Declaration [text, PDF] in 2000, creating eight goals to be met by 2015. The goals concentrate on reducing poverty, increasing access to healthcare and education, and improving the environment. The MDGs have been criticized in the past. In June 2010 AI urged world leaders to strengthen the MDGs [JURIST report] to meet international human rights standards. In its criticism, AI called for gender equality in educational settings, improved maternal health, and increased government accountability for failures to address violence against women, forced marriages and reproductive rights. AI asserted that the MDGs were “grossly inadequate” with respect to the provision of aid in light of the fact that the world’s slum population is projected to increase to 1.4 billion by 2020. In April 2008 UN Office on Drugs and Crime Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa contended [JURIST report] that the rule of law would be a necessary prerequisite to achieving all eight of the UN’s MDGs, citing a “clear correlation between weak rule of law and weak socio-economic performance.”