Helen Clark: Statement at the Annual High-Level panel discussion on Human Rights mainstreaming on ‘The contribution of Human Rights to Peacebuilding through the enhancement of dialogue and international cooperation for the promotion of Human Rights'

Feb 27, 2017

UNDP supports state institutions and civil society to fully exercise the right to truth, and promotes measures to ensure that these violations of human rights do not happen again. Photo: UNDP Guatemala

It is a pleasure to participate in this annual discussion which aims to promote the mainstreaming of human rights throughout the United Nations system.

The theme for today’s discussion is ‘the contribution of human rights to peacebuilding through the enhancement of dialogue and international co-operation for the promotion of human rights’.

Last year, a series of important high-level reviews commissioned by the Secretary-General on peace and security-related issues were concluded. Subsequently, the Security Council and the General Assembly adopted resolutions asking the UN system to re-think how it anticipates and responds to conflict, and to work across the three pillars to ‘sustain peace’.

There are no quick fixes available – peace is built and sustained through long term developmental processes. It is surely no accident that many states which lapse into deadly internal conflict have high levels of poverty and inequity, governance which is not inclusive and does not reach all corners of the land, an absence of the rule of law, and low adherence to human rights. These development deficits cannot be remedied over night, but tackled they must be if a more peaceful world is to be built.

It is appropriate therefore that the 2030 Agenda links all these issues. UNDP with its focus on poverty eradication, sustainable development, and inclusive institutions and the rule of law is well placed to contribute to long term efforts to build and sustain peace.

I want to refer now to important initiatives in which UNDP is a partner and in which each UN agency involved makes its unique contribution in the search for peace and justice:

The UN Global Focal Point for Police, Justice and Corrections led by UNDP and DPKO, with the participation of UNWOMEN, UNODC, and OHCHR, supports building rule of law institutions and services in countries which are experiencing fragility. This is a best practice example of how the UN’s peace and security, human rights, and development pillars can work together.

In the Human Rights Up Front initiative, UNDP has led with DPA on a process of quarterly regional reviews. In these, analyses have been shared on where there may be risks of or the actuality of human rights violations, and agreement has been reached on how to respond with the tools we have to avert or mediate those risks.

At the country level, UNDP and DPA together deploy peace and development advisors in support of Resident Co-ordinators in countries which are experiencing tensions. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights also deploys human rights advisors to Resident Co-ordinators’ offices to support their analyses of challenges to human rights.

UNDP’s mandate enables it to programme in support of inclusive political processes, building security and justice systems in which actors are aware of their human rights responsibilities, and dealing with legacies of violence in ways which will contribute to peace and justice.

For example, in Guatemala, UNDP has supported transitional justice efforts since 2010 by:

  • supporting victims’ rights advocacy groups,
  • helping victims of violence seek reparations, and
  • providing training to the police and to the Prosecutor’s and the Attorney General’s office which improves their capacity to investigate past crimes.

Our aim has been to support the victims of past conflict to realize their rights, to prevent repetition of human rights violations, and to establish a foundation for lasting peace and development.

UNDP works with OHCHR and the Global Alliance for National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) to support the strengthening of NHRIs. In fragile contexts, NHRIs work on the front lines, providing early warnings of human rights violations and support for post-conflict peacebuilding. NHRIs help ground human rights in policies and legislative frameworks, and they play a pivotal role in enhancing engagement and dialogue between the state and civil society and other stakeholders.

UNDP has been pleased to support many Member States as they take part in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process of the Human Rights Council, and to follow through with support for implementation of the UPR recommendations.

The UNGA and UNSC peacebuilding resolutions of 2016 encourage Member States participating in the UPR specifically to ‘consider the human rights dimensions of peacebuilding’. UNDP can support this through its programming on strengthening institutions and addressing root causes of conflicts.

In conclusion:

Mainstreaming human rights will support peacebuilding and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

Comprehensive approaches are required: from poverty eradication and inclusive growth to strengthening the rule of law and building inclusive institutions. Inequalities and discrimination which can be triggers of fragility and conflict must be targeted. Goal 16 specifically asks Member States to work for peaceful, just and inclusive societies.

Sustainable development supports peace, and vice versa. Neither will be achieved without the promotion and protection of human rights.

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