Human rights must be at front and centre of Sustainable Development processes: UN experts

Geneva, 5 September, 2023.- Gathered together for their Annual Meeting in June, UN human rights experts adopted a Joint Declaration reflecting on the critical role of the SDG summit halfway to the 2030 Agenda deadline.The joint declaration underscores the critical role of human rights as a tool for transformative changes urgently needed to meet all Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

Echoing the statement by the Secretary-General that “the SDGs are in deep trouble”, the UN experts called on all governments to fully implement the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development by prioritising those furthest behind, including those historically excluded an in situations of vulnerability. International human rights obligations and recommendations should be integrated into national action plans and domestic implementation mechanisms, the experts said.

“In light of declining rule of law standards and shrinking civic space, the multiplication of discrimination and violence, and challenges related to the climate emergency around the world, all governments should follow the vision of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which will mark its 75th anniversary this year,” the experts said.

“The declaration states that “all human rights are born free and equal in dignity and rights” and SDGs are built on a robust foundation of international human rights law,” they said.

The experts expressed concern that 5.1 billion – or two thirds of the population – around the world lack meaningful access to justice, while two billion lack access to safely managed water and 3.6 billion lack access to safe sanitation. They criticised the top-down approach adopted to implement the 2030 Agenda, warning that this has had little impact on the ground. “Governments must live up to the central promise that “no one will be left behind” and must focus implementation efforts on people in the most vulnerable situations.

The experts demanded that Governments turn the tide and accelerate implementation of the 2030 agenda at all levels, by taking part in national reviews and submitting progress reports on all goals and targets. Governments must also integrate recommendations from all UN human rights mechanisms, they said.

“As the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, we express our readiness to support and assist governments to deliver on all the commitments that will lead to transformative change,” the experts said.

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