If it is not rights-based, it is not real human development
Today, as we witness widening inequalities within countries, intensifying competition around scarce natural resources, and the continued exclusion of marginalized groups, national human rights institutions (NHRIs) are more relevant than ever. They are the cornerstones of our national systems for the promotion and protection of human rights, essential to sustaining development and successful implementation of the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
In the past year alone, UNDP partnered with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to support the establishment of NHRIs in Botswana, Samoa and Sao Tome and Principe. We continue to provide capacity-building support to foster human rights protection, by establishing the mechanisms for handling of complaints in several member states or by supporting the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review process in others. In Mozambique, for example, UNDP is assisting the National Human Rights Commission in monitoring places of detention. These practices emphasize what states should do to prevent and address negative impacts from infringements of human rights, and to ensure protection for people whose rights have been adversely affected.
The importance of the role of National Human Rights Institutions is heightened by the recent rise in social tensions and violent extremism around the world. Human rights are needed everywhere, and at all times. During the recent Ebola virus outbreak, the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone provided vital technical expertise and advice to the government to safeguard the respect for human rights throughout the crisis, coordinating closely with the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) and with UNDP to support human rights training for police and other officials while emergency laws were in place.
In order to ensure a truly transformative development agenda, the goals must be anchored in human rights and in the universal values of equality, justice and peace and security.
The Outcome Document of the Open Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals reaffirms the importance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as other international instruments relating to human rights and international law. Efforts have been made to mainstream human rights by looking and designing the specific goals through human rights eyes, with strong outcomes and markers. From a human rights perspective, two goals in particular are critically important contributions to the new development framework, for example, the goal on access to justice and accountable and inclusive institutions, and the goal on the reduction of income inequality within and between countries.
The successful implementation of the new development agenda will require a strong accountability framework at the international and national levels. National human rights institutions have an essential role to play in operationalizing a human rights-based approach, both in the planning phase and after the adoption of the agenda, particularly in terms of promoting, protecting and monitoring the implementation of human rights across the post-2015 framework of goals and targets.