Our Perspectives

Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always.


Eleanor RooseveltMrs. Eleanor Roosevelt of the United States holding a Declaration of Human Rights poster in English. [November 1949] Photo: UN Photo

In celebrating 2015 International Human Rights Day, we are invited to reflect on the importance of the freedoms we enjoy and to recommit to supporting the fundamental freedoms of all.

UNDP’s work is based on the belief that people experience poverty, deprivation or exclusion not only as a lack of income but also as a lack of education or health care or a lack of dignity and participation in their community. These dimensions of peoples’ lives have been considered so important by governments all around the world that they have recognized them as entitlements, as human rights, both in national and in international law.

2016 will mark the 50th anniversary of the twin covenants: the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). These seminal human rights treaties, together with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), constitute the International Bill of Human Rights.

Freedom is the idea that underpins international human rights law and constitutes the norms and regulations that protect and guarantee our rights. UNDP emphasizes that advancing human development is about creating an enabling environment for people to exercise their choices, which includes their indivisible civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. The twin covenants therefore continue to be a bedrock for fulfilling UNDP’s mandate to further sustainable human development which seeks to ensure a life of dignity for all.

Working towards what the Universal Declaration proclaimed as “a common standard of achievement for all people and all nations”, UNDP supports countries in developing systems for the promotion and protection of human rights and mainstreams human rights in our work. 

UNDP at the corporate level now uses Social and Environmental Standards to underpin our commitment to mainstream social and environmental sustainability in our development programming, including ensuring a human rights-based approach in our work.

In Colombia, UNDP is supporting broad participation of people and community organizations in the peace talks to emphasize the importance of issues such as land rights, political participation and victims’ rights. 

In Ukraine, UNDP facilitated the gathering of over 100 representatives from National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), leaders, human rights experts, and civic activists to adopt the Kyiv Declaration calling for a stronger role of NHRIs in conflict and post-conflict settings as cornerstones of the national systems for promotion and protection of human rights. 

This year, we adopted a far-reaching set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are, among other things, a universal action plan for rights and are guided by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and human rights law.

The new agenda envisages “a world of universal respect for human rights and human dignity, the rule of law, justice, equality and non-discrimination; of respect for race, ethnicity and cultural diversity; and of equal opportunity permitting the full realization of human potential and contributing to shared prosperity”.  UNDP remains committed to supporting and working towards this vision by 2030 and beyond. 

Alejandro Alvarez Blog post Human rights Human development report Sustainable development Colombia Ukraine Governance and peacebuilding

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