New global development agenda must have human rights at its core

World leaders must reject an aid-based model of development and instead pursue an approach that puts human rights and justice at its core, 18 non-governmental organizations urged ahead of a High-Level Panel report to the UN on the future of sustainable development.The call from Amnesty International, the Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR), the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), and 15 other organizations worldwide comes as a high-level panel of experts reviews the final draft of a report it will submit to the UN Secretary General at the end of May, laying the groundwork for action once the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire in 2015. Any new model must ensure that people are empowered and enabled to hold their governments and other entities to account for their conduct when human rights are ignored or abused, the organizations said. “The post-2015 framework must recognize that people who face poverty and deprivation are subjects of rights, not objects of development. And it must address the structural obstacles that keep people poor, at the national and global levels,” said Ignacio Saiz, Executive Director of the Center for Economic and Social Rights.Based on the high-level panel’s findings, the UN Secretary General will make recommendations to a General Assembly Special Event on the MDGs, which will hammer out the basic parameters of the post-2015 plan in September 2013. The post-2015 development agenda must at the very least respect and reflect pre-existing human rights legal norms, standards and political commitments, the organizations said. They urged governments to ensure that minimum levels of social protection are met. While the development agenda will be primarily implemented by states, effective citizen-led accountability mechanisms will be needed to ensure that others – including international institutions and the private sector – adhere to human rights standards. At the very least this must ensure that the private sector does no harm when implementing development projects. Better collaboration between effective institutions at the state and international levels should form the basis of a global partnership to tackle the structural causes of poverty, inequality and ecological devastation. Recent popular uprisings around the world have shown that it is essential that governments acknowledge that both major categories of human rights – civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights – are indivisible and interdependent, the organizations said. “The post-2015 development framework must be rooted in an understanding of the interdependence of socio-economic deprivation and democratic failures,” said Savio Carvalho Director of Amnesty International’s Demand Dignity Programme. “Civil and political rights are inseparable from economic and social rights, so the new agenda must be designed to promote empowerment in both these arenas.”From healthcare to land and property rights to gender-based violence, women and girls face specific challenges that need to be addressed in the post-2015 development agenda. “The post-2015 development framework must effectively guarantee the full spectrum of women’s rights by tackling the structural economic issues and property rights, ensuring the full participation of women in decision-making at all levels, and recognizing the unpaid care economy,” said Lydia Alpízar, Executive Director of the Association for Women’s Rights in Development. The MDGs have been weak in addressing other forms of inequality. This time around, existing human rights standards to eliminate discrimination must be reflected in any new goals and targets. Groups who are currently disadvantaged or excluded – on grounds such as race, gender, disability, migrant or indigenous status, sexual orientation or gender identity – must be enabled to act as effective agents of their own development.