Rebeca Grynspan: Remarks at the Human Rights Mainstreaming Panel, UN Human Rights Council

Mar 1, 2013

Rebecca Grynspan, UNDP Associate Aministrator, during the panel at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. (Photo: Jean-Marc Ferré/UN)

High Level Panel Discussion on Human Rights Mainstreaming  

UN Human Rights Council  

01 March 2013
Palais des Nations, Geneva
Statement by
Ms. Rebeca Grynspan
UN Under-Secretary-General
UNDP Associate Administrator

Mr. Secretary General, Mr. President of the Human Rights Council, Mr. Secretary of State of Portugal, Mr. High Commissioner of Human Rights, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very pleased to join this distinguished panel today.

I also congratulate H.E. the Permanent Representative of Poland Mr. Remigiusz A. Henczelon on his election as the President of the Human Rights Council, and through him, applaud the work of this body for its continued leadership to advance human rights.

Human rights are intrinsic to UNDP’s ability to deliver on its human development mandate.  Events remind us time and again that where people suffer indignities and injustices without voice or recourse – the prospects for sustainable human development dim.

Equally, where people endure extreme poverty, missing basic services, weak institutions and limited opportunity – the human rights are at stake.

Since 1990 UNDP has successfully advance the Human development paradigm.  Progress need to be measured and understood beyond income – human development is about people’s possibilities to live lives they value, is about the conditions, rights and freedoms that allow them to choose and to be the agents of their own development.
It is within the framework of Human development that UNDP supports countries to meet their development priorities – through policies and approaches which draw on human rights principles including the right to development, to address inequities, discrimination, and marginalization.

Although we have no normative or monitoring role, consistent with the principle of national ownership, UNDP’s role is to respond to the requests of countries that ask for help to develop the capacity they need to deliver their human rights commitments. We thus help countries translate human rights treaties, norms, and programmes of work – into the actions that make them meaningful to people’s lives. We help countries to internalize in their own national specificities, planning and policy framework the human rights principles and their international commitments.

By 2012, 80 countries have requested our support to bring human rights more fully into their public policy, laws and development frameworks. As demand for this support has continued to grow, we’ve seen significant progress. Many countries have now integrated human rights within their development and MDGs strategies.

The MDG’s themselves are an important way to achieve basic human rights, the right of mother’s to live, of children to have healthy lives and be educated, of the poor to live with dignity, free of hunger and be able to provide for their families through access to decent work, of women to live free of fear and violence and be treated as equal.  But there is also a dimension of human rights in the MDGs themselves that is as important and that in fact is embedded in the right to development principles and it is about going beyond averages and being satisfied with the average progress of the goals to secure the non-discrimination agenda, the fair distribution of the benefits of development, the need to ensure free, active and meaningful participation.

It is not only about the material achievement of the goals but the very way of how we do it.  Progress of the goals themselves as I said before is no doubt an achievement, but if they don’t touch the most marginalize groups, if they don’t include the excluded and most left behind, if they do not approach those that are discriminated against and advocate for the same pace of progress for all, the sustainability of the goals and their ultimate success will be hurt.
That is what a Human rights based approach for the achievement of the MDGs does and in doing so ensures the effectiveness, coherence and sustainability of development itself.  For example: In Bosnia Herzegovina UNDP supported local development strategies with human rights standards as benchmarks in 40 municipalities – helping to strengthen local participation and accountability, and end discrimination. Argentina likewise drew on UNDP support and expertise to strengthen the capacity of local governments to mainstream human rights in their planning processes – including by using disaggregated data to reveal the relative status of vulnerable and marginalized groups.

This is a welcome and important trend being supported through the joined efforts of the UN system. The UN Development Group, answering the call of the Secretary-General, has been very active in coordinating and galvanizing these efforts – very importantly through the UNDG-Human Rights Mainstreaming Mechanism, our support for the Universal Periodic Review process and its follow up and our partnership with the UNHCHR.

In doing this, we help countries to engage within their Review processes all branches of the state - from parliaments to the judiciary; all relevant UN agencies; and stakeholders – from civil society organizations, the private sector, and national human rights institutions and to follow up in the implementation of the country’s commitments. UNDP therefore supports all key elements that form an integral part of national human rights systems like laws consistent with international human rights standards, effective functioning of courts, independent HR institutions and Ombudsman offices, accountable government institutions and drafting and implementation of National Human Rights Action Plans.  

With a little more than 1000 days remaining to the 2015 target date for the MDGs, support for these efforts must be stepped up. This is important not least, to build confidence in an ambitious post-2015 development agenda – which reflects what we’ve learned from taking human rights based approaches to MDG achievement.

We’ve learned that human rights based approaches can be particularly effective in helping countries address underlying and persistent roadblocks to progress – resulting from inequities, marginalization, exclusion or discrimination based on gender, religion, place where you live, sexual orientation, race, cast or ethnic group. To tackle growing inequalities and the unfinished business of the MDGs, human rights based approaches to development will be therefore essential. As it will also in post conflict settings as an essential component for peace building and transition to development.

Therefore, non-discrimination, equality, participation and accountability should be fully reflected in the post-2015 development framework.

Many voices engaged now in the UN’s unprecedented global consultation process, are echoing this call. To eradicate extreme poverty – as is now being contemplated, they stress the importance of rights-based approaches – for example to education.

Uniting human rights and development both in practice and within a rejuvenated post-2015 agenda – will require stepped up leadership and commitment from Member States and proactive collaboration from all of us in the human rights and development communities. I look forward to discussing later today the concrete ways we can move forward to this end and also how we can accelerate progress towards 2015. There are 3 years to go, we cannot stop now!

Thank you.

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