Experts: Inject Human Rights In Rio+20 Goals

May 15, 2012 - 11:01am

Experts: Inject Human Rights In Rio+20 Goals

[06-05-2012]UN Human Rights chief Navi Pillay and 22 independent experts urges all states to ensure that human rights are integrated in the final outcome of the UN Rio+20 sustainable development goals.

Published by the editor
The Danish Institute for Human Rights

Twenty years after the UN Conference on Environment and Development in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and ten years after the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, a second Rio Summit, Rio+20, is due to take place in June.

The Conference is expected to lay the foundations for a set of new global Sustainable Development Goals to complement and strengthen the UN Millennium Development Goals created in 2000.

But as the first rounds of negotiations on the Rio+20 Conference outcome enter a critical phase UN Human Rights chief Navi Pillay has urged all United Nations Member States to ensure that human rights are thoroughly integrated in the discussions and in any final outcome, states a press release from the High Commissioner. Indeed, according to Pillay, the draft outcome document of the Rio+20 Conference fails to take sufficient account of human rights imperatives.

“In recent years, people have taken to the streets in every region of the world, passionately demanding their fundamental human rights – in many instances at great personal risk,” Pillay said in a letter sent to all UN Member States, adding that for Rio+20 to be successful, “its outcome must ensure that explicit human rights safeguards are in place.”

Pillay warned that incoherence between international human rights standards, environmental strategies and economic policies can undercut all three.

No goals without accountability
In line with Pillays recommendations, a group of 22 independent UN experts recently published an open letter also urging states to incorporate universally agreed international human rights norms and standards with strong accountability mechanisms into the UN Rio+20 sustainable development conference’s goals.

“Learning from the mistakes of the Millennium Development Goals, the new sustainable goals must integrate the full range of human rights linked with sustainable development, and human rights must be the benchmark for whether or not inclusive, equitable and sustainable development is occurring,” the independent experts said.

At the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) the former Head of the Human Rights & Business Department and newly appointed member of the new UN Working Group on Human Rights and Business, Margaret Jungk, agrees that it is essential to internalize human rights in the Rio+20 goals:

“DIHR has long recognized that human rights don’t operate in a vacuum. To have an effective impact, and to really make improvements in people’s every-day lives, human rights has to be brought into play in a variety of dimensions, including to inform and shape our responses to the economic, environmental and social challenges that the world faces today”, she says.

“With this in mind, and with DIHR’s full backing and support, I have joined the call from the UN Human Rights Council Special Procedures mandate holders to states negotiating at Rio, to ensure that human rights are internalized in both principle and practice at Rio+20. For real sustainable development to take place, human beings and their rights must be a central concern”.