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Submission by Special Procedure Mandate Holders of the Human Rights Council to the President of the General Assembly's Special Event

“Towards achieving the millennium development goals"

Grounding development priorities in human rights

25 September 2013

As independent experts appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council, we have been mandated by States to make recommendations for the promotion of human rights at national, regional and international levels. The Post-2015 global development agenda has the potential to make a decisive contribution to human rights becoming a reality in the lives of billions of people.

We call on States to focus on eliminating inequalities, ensuring social protection, accountability and participation. In this statement, we would like to present the following recommendations concerning key priorities for the post-2015 development agenda that are common to our mandates.

Commitments to progressively eliminate inequalities are a dire necessity in order to tackle poverty and huge deficits and disparities in the enjoyment of human rights around the globe. The global and national consultations on the post-2015 agenda facilitated by the UN produced widespread consensus from a variety of stakeholders on this issue. The post-2015 agenda should therefore incorporate equality as a stand-alone and cross-cutting goal, aiming to progressively eliminate disparities within and between the most marginalized groups and the general population and women and men in order to achieve more inclusive forms of development. Such commitments would ensure the development targets that eventually will be agreed upon are in line with existing human rights obligations on the right to equality without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. It is particularly important to ensure that gender equality and women’s rights are a central priority for the new development agenda. When women are left behind, development is stalled and whole societies are held back.

As the report of the High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda recognized, social protection is a “potential gamechanger that can directly improve equality”. It is time for States to live up to their promises to tackle poverty and inequality through social protection. An ambitious and visionary approach to social protection is a human rights imperative, to realise the rights to health, food, education, housing and an adequate standard of living, among others. The post-2015 agenda should include universal targets on social protection floors, explicitly referencing the right to social security and a human rights-based approach to social protection.

Widening accountability gaps have undermined the current MDGs. Putting human rights obligations up front and centre in the post-2015 framework has the potential to directly tackle this weakness. The final agenda should include a detailed vision for accountability processes and mechanisms to ensure that its intended beneficiaries, including people living in extreme poverty, can hold Governments to their promises. We propose the establishment of a double accountability mechanism, whereby accountability mechanisms are established at both national and international levels.

Above all, the new development agenda must have human rights for all at its heart. Governments have already committed to uphold human rights in numerous international treaties; these commitments provide concrete guidance as to how goals and targets for the post-2015 agenda should be framed.

In doing so, States should be guided by a number of comprehensive reports that have been issued in the past few months as a result of extensive consultations across different regions, levels, groups and themes. One such report is the United Nations Development Group (UNDG) report “A Million Voices: The World We Want”, for which perspectives were collected from over one million people around the globe who participated in 88 national consultations, 11 thematic dialogues, and in the “My World” global survey. To highlight just a few critical messages in this report: firstly, “people call for a new agenda built on human rights and universal values of equality, justice and security”. Secondly, they “demand to play a role in shaping and changing their world”, and lastly, they are “indignant at the injustice they feel because of growing inequalities and insecurities that exist particularly for poorer and marginalized people”.

Another important reference for States in this regard is the report of the UN Secretary-General on the MDGs and their follow-up -”A Life of Dignity for All”. In this report, the Secretary- General demonstrates a strong commitment to human rights as the core of the next global development agenda. The report sets forth a clear vision of the path which States should take to secure a truly transformative global development agenda, one that can realize the basic rights of those who up until now have been side-lined in development processes. The report emphasizes that for a real sustainable development agenda to take root it must embody a “far-reaching vision of the future firmly anchored in human rights”.

The report also calls for action to tackle discrimination and inequality in all its forms, including inequality between men and women, and recognizes that accountability is crucial in effectively implementing the agenda.

We believe that these reports set an important benchmark to guide States in incorporating human rights into the development agenda, and should inspire efforts to ensure the realization of the fundamental rights of all beyond 2015, especially of the most vulnerable and marginalized.

Participation of those traditionally marginalized from decision-making and local actors defending the rights of such communities is essential in developing an accountable, sustainable and people-centred development framework. Thus, we encourage States to ensure active and meaningful participation of affected communities and individuals advocating for their rights in the implementation of all development goals and strengthen their capacity to do so.

Magdalena SEPÚLVEDA, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights; Rashida MANJOO, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences; Gulnara SHAHINIAN, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and its consequences; Margaret SEKAGGYA, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; François CRÉPEAU, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants; Christof HEYNS, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Frances RADAY, Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice; Catarina de ALBUQUERQUE, Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation; Olivier De SCHUTTER, Special Rapporteur on the right to food; Najat M'JID, Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography; Pablo De GREIFF, Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of nonrecurrence; Maina KIAI, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; Gabriela KNAUL, Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers; 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; Farida SHAHEED, Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights; Rita IZSAK, Independent Expert on Minority Issues; Alfred De ZAYAS, Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order; Olivier De FROUVILLE, Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances.

We would also urge State to recognize the important role of human rights defenders in developing and implementing the post-2015 development agenda in the outcome document and to recognize their right to participate in such processes, monitor progress, hold those responsible to account at the national and international levels and be protected from violations in this context.

We call on world leaders to ensure that human rights principles and obligations are fully reflected in their ongoing decision-making on the shape of the post-2015 development agenda, reiterating the Secretary-General’s call for “enlightened and courageous leadership” by States as the world approaches 2015.

In May this year, 18 Special Procedures mandate holders issued a joint Statement advocating for commitments in the post-2015 development agenda on reducing inequalities, promoting social protection and ensuring accountability.