High Level International Investment Agreements Conference
Statement by UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore
24 October 2018
Excellencies; Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi Secretary-General, UNCTAD, distinguished Government representatives, colleagues,
I bring you warm greetings from the High Commissioner for Human Rights and her warm appreciation for this opportunity to speak with you.
From the human rights standpoint, the great gift of the investment paradigm is its robust calculation of how decisions that we take today (and those that we don’t make) determine returns for tomorrow. We reap what we sow.
Opening up a broader, longer term strategic horizon, beyond the crises and political conveniences of today /of the “here and now” – so that more robust connections between today’s investment policy choices and tomorrow’s consequences, are drawn more transparently, more measurably, and more accountably – is among the most important gifts of the 15 year horizon that SDGs describe. It helps us understand that we reap in 2030 what we sow today.
However, the great threat of the investment paradigm – in its orthodox form - is the too narrow, and thus inaccurate measurement, it promotes of the value it creates: too limited, short-sighted metrics by which we have traditionally computed what is the profit and what is the loss that our investment decisions cause.
Our world today – this resource-strained, global village planet – cannot afford an investment calculus that fails to address a holistic, comprehensive bottom line inclusive of profit for people, planet, and for peace. Profit and loss measured for people, planet and peace - this is the greatest profit and loss challenge. Progress in these profit areas is not inevitable. Regression, even in the face of the grander ambition of the Sustainable Development Agenda, is all too possible, arguably already well in evidence.
As we invest, and design/reform systems for that purpose, we must be willing to enquire into - at a far deeper level and in a more farsighted way – exactly what value are we investing to create? For whom? To whose benefit? By what measure?
The shareholders for the human rights based 2030 Agenda are people and people are rights holders. We will not harvest the value we must create for these our shareholders, including for those who as yet remain locked outside of the benefits of our investments, unless our investment decisions are truly values based; coherent with the universal norms and standards that human rights and international law more broadly provide.
Our existing ways of investment operating; our current ways of investment cooperating are not equitable or sustainable. In the long run, they will not be profitable either. It’s time not to agree they are unacceptable.
As key horizons for the Sustainable Development Agenda’s deliverables loom, being clear about the values we uphold as we seek to create more comprehensive, holistic sustained value – for people, plant and peace - these are the bottom lines we need for the future.