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Statements Treaty bodies

UN Summit, High Level Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly, 20-22 September 2010 - Joint statement of the Chairpersons of the UN human rights treaty bodies

15 September 2010

In our capacity of chairpersons of the United Nations human rights treaty bodies, set up to oversee the implementation of the core human rights treaty obligations at the national level, we welcome the holding of this Summit. It comes at a crucial moment, as five years separate the UN Member States from the target year of 2015 that they have set themselves to fully realize the MDGs.

We urge Member States to be guided by human rights in finalizing the Summit Outcome Document and in establishing national action plans. We draw the attention of Member States to the guidance offered by human rights treaties and the work of treaty bodies, and remind Member States that realizing the MDGs is but a first step in meeting their broader human rights treaty obligations.

First, as the Secretary General has mentioned on 23 June 2010, one of the goals of this Summit should be to establish concrete national action plans for realizing the MDGs. We avail ourselves of this opportunity to recall the legally binding nature of human rights obligations, which lie at the core of the MDGs, and call upon Member States to adequately reflect human rights standards and commitments in the Summit Outcome Document as well as in subsequent action plans. Adhering to international human rights standards, including to the principles of non-discrimination, meaningful participation and accountability, can accomplish an accelerated progress towards achieving the MDGs. It is also of the utmost importance that efforts include an increased attention to children, to persons living in rural or remote areas, slum-dwellers and those that are most vulnerable to discrimination, as addressed by the core international human rights treaties

            Second, the rights embodied in the core human rights treaties should be the standards against which to measure progress towards achieving the MDGs. In addition, the treaty bodies offer much guidance in these efforts of UN Member States, through its recommendations to the State party following the consideration of its initial and periodic reports. These recommendations offer a unique opportunity to improve the human rights situation at the national level through concrete action as recommended by the treaty body. Treaty bodies also offer guidance on the interpretation and implementation of specific human rights through General Comments, for example on the right to education; the right to food; the right to health, or the rights of children with disabilities.

Third, we welcome that a number of MDGs, such as MDG2 (primary education for all) or MDG3 (gender parity), fully meet international human rights treaty obligations. We note, however, that with regard to other MDGs, their realization would still fall short of what human rights treaties require, as treaties call for the realization of human rights for all, which goes beyond the reaching of quantified targets.

Therefore, while fully supporting the efforts of Member States to realize the MDGs by 2015, we would like to emphasize that their realization should be an important step on the longer, and continuous, road towards the full and effective realization of all human rights for all. Realizing all human rights for all is therefore a goal in itself, a goal that is one of the three fundamental pillars of the United Nations, and should be seen independently from the goal of generating global economic growth.