Post-2015 Agenda: Human rights accountability key to progress Amnesty International tells UN

The UN’s development targets for the next 15 years must hold governments to account on their human rights obligations, Amnesty International has urged ahead of a crucial meeting next week which will help decide the post-2015 Development Agenda. 

“Our message is simple: you cannot have sustainable development without human rights,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International, who is today meeting with senior UN officials and diplomats to discuss the organization’s new policy brief, Delivering a Just Future for All: Why Human Rights Matter to Sustainable Development. 

“The UN has the opportunity to transform the lives of billions of women, men and children who currently live in grinding poverty, and ultimately to build a more just world. But there is a risk this opportunity will go to waste unless governments are held to account for their records on inequality and injustice.” 

Amnesty International’s policy brief outlines how, if crucial lessons from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are to be learnt, governments must be held accountable for their human rights commitments and address growing inequalities in society. 

The policy brief highlights evidence to demonstrate how human rights can help deliver better socio-economic outcomes. 

It describes how the original Millennium Development Goals (MDG) framework did not adequately strive for the protection and promotion of human rights, and may even have contributed to rights violations. 

For example, one MDG target aimed for “a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum-dwellers”, but a lack of protection resulted in many facing an increased risk of forced evictions as governments attempted to meet their targets. This has been compounded by the omission in the MDGs of the right to adequate housing, which includes protection from forced evictions. More than 900 million people still live in slums today. 

If human rights standards are not effectively embedded in the post-2015 framework, this could leave those already living in poverty at risk of further human rights violations and exclude them from benefitting equally from development. 

Amnesty International is calling on the UN to adopt a post-2015 framework which promotes accountability on human rights across all its goals. 

Effective systems which measure and evaluate human rights indicators will not only allow individuals and communities to hold states to account for their progress, but also assist states to monitor and improve their own performance. 

Amnesty International is also calling for a stand-alone goal on gender equality and the human rights and empowerment of women and girls. 

“The United Nations Millennium Declaration promised respect for all internationally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms. In this the MDGs have failed,” said Salil Shetty.   

“The UN must not allow the same mistakes to repeat themselves over the next fifteen years.” 

Amnesty International published its policy brief ahead of a meeting of the UN Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals on 16 June—one of the last times the group meets before its proposal is presented to the General Assembly in September 2014.