Helen Clark: Speech at High-Level Segment of the 34th Session of the Human Rights Council

Feb 27, 2017

UNDP considers human rights to be intrinsic to development and fundamental to peace and security. Photo: UNDP

It is a pleasure to address the Human Rights Council on how UNDP contributes to the realization of human rights through its development work. UNDP considers human rights to be intrinsic to development and fundamental to peace and security. Sustainable development is also a means to realizing human rights.

UNDP has neither a normative nor a monitoring role in human rights. Our work is anchored in the principle of national ownership, and we are active in some 170 countries and territories, supporting Member States to achieve their national development priorities and to give practical expression to the commitments they have made to international conventions, including those on human rights.

In my remarks today, I will touch on our support to national partners in three areas in particular: on the Sustainable Development Goals as they pertain to human rights, on National Human Rights Institutions, and on international human rights mechanisms, such as the Universal Periodic Review.

UNDP Support to the SDGs

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) envisage “a world of universal respect for human rights and human dignity, the rule of law, justice, equality and non-discrimination….”. Efforts to achieve the SDGs are a critical means to help protect and promote human rights and address inequalities and discrimination – all of which are vital for building peaceful, just, and inclusive societies.

In responding to requests from governments to support SDG implementation, UNDP:

  • supports countries to mainstream the SDGs into national plans and strategies;
  • supports the development of national indicators, and monitoring and reporting progress on the SDGs; and
  • works to strengthen the capacities of national institutions for responsiveness and accountability. UNDP’s contribution to the role of governance in the promotion and protection of human rights and realization of the 2030 Agenda is reflected in the report presented to this session of the Human Rights Council.

UNDP Support to National Human Rights Institutions

Since 2008, UNDP has supported National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) in more than 100 countries to develop and strengthen their capacities. In the past year we have worked with partners to identify principles for undertaking capacity assessments of NHRIs, and to increase co-operation with these institutions in conflict and post-conflict settings. At lunchtime today, we will host a briefing with our partners, the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, on our joint work to strengthen support to National Human Rights Institutions.

UNDP support to international human rights mechanisms

UNDP has considerable experience in supporting countries with preparation for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process –across the preparation of national reports, engagement with civil society on the process, and on implementation of recommendations.

Since 2014 in Uzbekistan, for example, UNDP has supported the development and implementation of a National Action Plan (NAP) to follow up on the recommendations of Treaty Bodies and on UPR recommendations. The plan was prepared through a participatory process involving some forty national institutions and organizations.

In Turkmenistan last year, the National Institute of Democracy and Human Rights and the inter-Ministerial Commission finalized the ‘2016-2020 National Human Rights Action Plan’ with the support of UNDP. The Plan provides a roadmap for implementation of recommendations of the 2013 UPR and Treaty Bodies.

UNDP’s work at the intersection of human rights, development, and peace and security

In resolutions passed last year, the UN General Assembly and the Security Council have urged the UN system to work collectively and with a strengthened capability to ‘sustain peace’. Peace is built and sustained through long term developmental processes. As well, we as development actors must be able to anticipate and respond appropriately to early warning signs of instability or to situations of heightened fragility or conflict.

UNDP looks forward to working closely with partners in the UN system to support countries to implement the commitments they have made when ratifying the international human rights conventions and the 2030 Agenda.

I wish you all a very productive 34th session of the Human Rights Council.

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