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Take concrete steps to equality

GENEVA (10 June 2013) – A group of United Nations human rights experts today welcomed the recognition of the importance of equality in a key UN report on the post-2015 development agenda, but cautioned that good intentions are not enough and called upon world leaders to adopt concrete measures to eliminate inequalities.

“Reducing inequalities and achieving substantive equality will not be accomplished ‘by a miracle’, but rather through the implementation of concrete and concerted goals and targets across a range of sectors,” the independent experts stressed.

“Experience has shown us that there is no automatic “trickle-down” effect from economic growth, and the impressive poverty reduction prompted by the Millennium Development Goals has yet to reach the poorest of the poor,” the experts noted.

They acknowledged the fact that the report by the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons, commissioned by the UN Secretary-General, strongly emphasizes the link between new development goals and safeguarding people’s human rights, by ensuring that “no person – regardless of ethnicity, gender, geography, disability, race or other status – is denied universal human rights and basic economic opportunities.”

The report recommends that development targets should only be considered achieved if they are met for all relevant income and social groups, thus ensuring that special attention is given to the most excluded and vulnerable groups.

“However, now more than ever,” the UN experts underlined, “it is essential that such commitment is translated into specific objectives, targets and indicators which aim at developing a systematic reduction in inequalities between the most marginalized groups and the general population, women and men, poor and rich, rural and urban, those living in informal settlements and formal urban settlements, among others.”

The experts applauded the report’s call for increased social protection coverage as part of the goal of ending poverty.

But, they said, the international community should adopt a more ambitious and visionary approach. “The post-2015 agenda should set universal targets on social protection floors that are consistent with international human rights obligations.”

The experts stressed that, “in light of globalization and growing inequality, States have a duty to ensure that strong international solidarity and co-operation is implemented as a means of eradicating poverty and eliminating inequalities between and within countries.”

“As we approach the MDG target date of 2015, we must guarantee that no one is left behind,” they said.

The experts reiterated their call* that the post-2015 agenda and the intergovernmental Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals include goals for eliminating inequalities and providing at least basic levels of social protection to all, as well as a mechanism to hold countries to account for their commitments at national and international levels.

They recalled the message of all UN Human Rights special procedures delivered by the Chair of their Coordination Committee on 1 March this year: “We need to address inequality once and for all as it constitutes one of the most persistent challenges that prevent millions of people from living a life in dignity”.

(*) See the joint statement (21 May 2013): http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=13341&LangID=E

ENDS

The experts: Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent; Alfred de ZAYAS, Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order; Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice; Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances; Magdalena SEPÚLVEDA, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights; Olivier de SCHUTTER, Special Rapporteur on the right to food; Heiner BIELEFELDT, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief; Margaret SEKAGGYA, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Gabriela KNAUL, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyer; Rita IZSÁK, Independent Expert on minority issues; Mutuma RUTEERE, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; Najat Maala M’JIID, Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography; Gulnara SHAHINIAN, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and its consequences; Christof HEYNS, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises; Rashida MANJOO, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences; Cephas LUMINA, Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights; Catarina de ALBUQUERQUE, Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation; Surya Prasad SUBEDI, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia; Marzuki DARSUMAN, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea; Tomas Ojea QUINTANA, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar.

For further information on the experts mandates and activities, log on to:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/Welcomepage.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact Madoka Saji (+41 22 917 9107 / msaji@ohchr.org)

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