World leaders must strengthen the human rights element of new development goals or risk their failure, Amnesty International warned after the latest authoritative proposal for the global development agenda was unveiled. A panel of experts tasked by the UN Secretary General presented a proposal designed to tackle poverty eradication and sustainable development globally to the United Nations on 30 May. The panel has proposed a new 15-year plan to follow on from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which expire in 2015.”The panel’s report rightly identifies human rights as an essential part of the post-2015 development agenda, but more needs to be done to ensure that human rights are placed at the heart of strategies, policies and programmes,” said Savio Carvalho, Demand Dignity Programme Director at Amnesty International.
“Individuals must be recognised as rights holders. Not only with regard to participation in political and policy processes, but in regard of the full range of rights across the post-2015 agenda. “In the panel’s report, human rights are too often narrowly framed in terms of civil and political rights with lack of explicit reference to economic, social and cultural rights. In the year of the 20th anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, a vision of the indivisibility of rights is missing.” The report focuses on ending extreme poverty through sustainable development, but few of the proposed goals and targets are framed from a human rights perspective.”The report is inconsistent. Although in places it recognises economic and social rights, in other places such rights are referred to as ‘basic needs’, which is a backward step particularly given states’ existing obligations under international law,” said Carvalho.
“There is no recognition that governments are bound by pre-existing human rights standards. Nowhere does the report, in terms of accountability, talk about the right to effective remedies for violations of human rights. “For instance, for women to enjoy living in stable and peaceful societies (the subject of proposed Goal 11), what matters is not just whether they can access justice mechanisms and benefit from due process, but whether the law challenges gender discrimination and promotes gender equality and women’s empowerment.” Amnesty International’s other recommendations to strengthen the new goals include:• Address barriers to individuals’ decision-making on their sexuality and reproductive lives• Focus on gender discrimination in the justice system• Make stronger links between child marriage and poverty • Increase gender focus in education-related goals• Guarantee that everyone, regardless of their status or situation, has security of tenure and is not at risk to forced evictions• Strengthen access to information at local levels• Enhance the accountability of security forces, police and the judiciary • Ensure that accountability means enabling victims of human rights violations to have access to an effective remedy.Based on the panel’s findings, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon 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.