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Human rights key to MDG success

An international conference in New York on 10 June has called for the positioning of human rights at the centre of global actions to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.

Billboards on AIDS prevention were produced by local NGO Positive Action © N Photo/G PirozziThe conference on human rights as the foundation for progress on MDGs was organised by non-governmental organizations Amnesty International and Realizing Rights in preparation for the MDG summit in New York this September to assess progress towards the MDGs.

UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kyung-wha Kang told the meeting that integrating the human rights principles of non-discrimination, participation and accountability into national development strategies was necessary to redress the root causes of poverty, which often relate to persistent patterns of disempowerment, discrimination and exclusion.

“States should adopt adequate measures to properly identify the poorest and most marginalised groups through disaggregating global MDG targets and indicators and ensure that their human rights are protected and addressed,” she said.

Human rights, she said, can help bridge the accountability gap in the MDGs, which has been cited by the UN Secretary-General in his recent report “Keeping the Promise” as one of the reasons for slow progress.

“Human rights offer a framework for strengthened accountability by clarifying the duties and responsibilities of developing countries, donor countries and other non-governmental actors, which in turn will ensure more commitment and transparency in national and international efforts towards the achievement of the MDGs,” she said.

The President of Realizing Rights and former High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, said that a human rights-based approach to the MDGs was “absolutely necessary” for success. 

“We must make the case for human rights-centred development. We can’t let aggregate numbers obscure inequality,” she said.

The Minister of Public Works of Liberia, Kofi Woods, said that human rights, as the international community’s “most logical consensus”, must have a central role in determining the direction of development.

The conference drew participants from governments, the United Nations, other international organisations, human rights and other civil society organisations.

Read the full speech of the Deputy High Commissioner

16 June 2010