GENEVA (12 July 2016) – A group of experts* from the largest body of independent experts in the United Nations Human Rights system today warned that some States and sponsoring private actors are already ‘cherry-picking’ goals and targets in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and overlooking basic rights.
“Rather than treating all 17 Goals in the 2030 Agenda on equal footing to protect the most marginalized and vulnerable and enhance their situation, we are already witnessing some goals getting more support than others,” the experts said. “The strong and urgent commitment to ensure that no one is left behind can only be realised if equally no human right is left behind.”
The UN experts’ call comes as participants at the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development gather in New York from 11 to 20 July for the first follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals.
“The 2030 Agenda addresses many pressing issues worldwide: poverty, rapid urbanization, hunger and malnutrition, unemployment, and inadequate access water and sanitation or ending HIV/AIDS to name only a few. But it is, after all, a set of goals and targets not intended to replace international human rights obligations,” they said.
The UN experts stressed that the effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda depends on it being consistent with the overarching commitment to human rights. This includes accountability, non-discrimination and equality, notably gender equality, and clear consideration of the primacy of States’ human rights obligations.
“For example, it would be inconsistent with human rights to interpret the call for clean energy, or the upgrading of slums, without due and consistent protection against displacement of indigenous peoples and forced evictions of millions of urban dwellers, that can occur if policies are divorced from a human rights standards,” they noted.
In a similar vein, the private sector’s contribution to the 2030 Agenda must take place with due regard to its responsibility to do no harm and respect human rights.
The experts emphasised that the focus on the 2030 Agenda should in no way become ‘the perfect excuse’ to give less priority to their binding human rights obligations, or to ignore the comprehensive protection that is at the core of international human rights instruments.
“The 2030 Agenda’s explicit promise is to reach the most excluded groups first, hence we urge all participants in the HLPF to make this their compass in their deliberations,” they concluded.
(*) The experts: Ms. Leilani Farha, Special Rapporteur on adequate housing; Mr. Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty; Ms. Hilal Elver, Special Rapporteur on food; Mr. Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, Independent Expert on foreign debt and human rights; Mr. Dainius Puras, Special Rapporteur on health; Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Special Rapporteur on indigenous peoples; Mr. Léo Heller, Special Rapporteur on water and sanitation; Ms. Virginia Dandan, Independent Expert on international solidarity; and Ms. Dubravka Šimonović, Special Rapporteur on violence against women; Mr Pavel Sulyandziga, Working Group on Business and Human Rights.
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