Connectivity between human rights and SDGS
Ambassador Muhammad Zamir writes for DOT :
After the success of the Millennium Development Goals process, Heads of State and Government of the member countries of the United Nations were persuaded to adopt in September 2015 the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDG). The creation of this path to promote sustainable development was undertaken through the setting up of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which, according to sociologists and economists, would not only help to promote equality and economic development but would also facilitate protection of human rights. The goals form a cohesive and integrated package of global aspirations and provide a framework for shared action for people’s prosperity that can be earned through collaborative partnership.
These 17 goals have also determined 169 targets that are globally acceptable on the basis of differing national realities, capacities and levels of development and respect for national policies and priorities. The SDGs are consequently not only participatory in nature but also people-centric, integrated and more complex than the MDGs. The most important connotation of the SDG parameter is highlighted through its axiom- “Leaving no one behind”.
Strategic analysts generally agree that the 2030 Agenda related to the achievement of SDGs recognizes human rights as a foundation and considers the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) as the platform. In this regard, international human rights treaties that emphasize on state responsibilities to respect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms for all is given priority.
Out of 17 goals within the SDG structure, 9 goals- 1, 3,4,5,6,8,10, 16 and 17- and their relevant targets correspond to essential dimensions of human rights commitments pertaining to States as outlined in different international legal Agreements- the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
SDG-1 which seeks to end poverty in all its forms through implementation of social protective measures is reflected in principle through Articles 11, 13, 14, 15 and 16 of CEDAW and Articles 22 and 25 of UDHR. SDG-3 aimed at ensuring healthy lives, reproductive healthcare and access to medicines is consistent with Articles 3 and 25, 27 and 28 of UDHR and also with Article 10 of ICESCR.
SDG-4 aims at ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education, improving vocational skills, expanding education facilities and training of teachers. These are consistent with Articles 26 and 28 of UDHR, Article 10 of CEDAW and Article 6 of ICESCR.
SDG-5 is trying to achieve gender equality, elimination of discrimination and violence, ensuring access to reproductive healthcare and equal access of women to economic resources. These targets are consistent with Articles 1 to 6 and 12 of CEDAW and also with Articles 7 and 10 of ICESCR.
SDG-6 deals with ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, reducing pollution, increasing water-use efficiency and promoting participatory management of water and sanitation services. The aspirations under this goal are particularly applicable for relatively poorer countries with high density of population. These targets are similar to expectations in Article 25 of UDHR, Article 11 of the ICESCR and Article 14 of CEDAW.
SDG-8 is associated with promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth, productive employment opportunities, eradicating child labor, human trafficking and protecting labor rights of migrant workers. The objectives within this goal are consistent with Articles 4 and 23 of UDHR, Article 11 of CEDAW and Article 32 of CRC.
SDG-10 is aiming to reduce inequality within and among countries by promoting higher growth rates among the ultra poor, promoting social, economic and political inclusion and reducing inequalities in the matrix of opportunities. These targets are consistent with the expectations included in Articles 2, 21 and 22 of UDHR and Articles 47 and 64 of CMW.
SDG-16 refers to the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. These objectives are consistent with expectations contained in Articles 3, 6, 8, 10, 19 and 21 of UDHR and Articles 19 and 37 of CRC.
SDG-17 focuses on critical issues like debt sustainability, technology transfer, capacity building, promoting trade and enhancing institutional coherence. Articles 12, 27 and 28 of UDHR and Article 1 of ICCPR figure prominently within the connotations of the targets included in this goal.
It appears that the relevant authorities within the Bangladesh Administration have been treating the SDG exercise with great seriousness. Our 7th Five Year Plan (2016-20) has been aligned with the objectives enumerated within the SDG and different Ministries and Administrative Divisions have been allocated responsibility with regard to pragmatic implementation of the different objectives in a constructive, coordinated and integrated manner.
It is being anticipated that the need to implement the required SDG and associated activities will require active inclusion and support also within the framework of the 8th and 9th Five Year Plans that will conclude in 2025 and 2030 respectively. It will also need active participation from all sectors of our social and economic framework including existing civil society, the private sector and the academia.
There will also be evolving challenges related to processing of data and assessing progress within different target heads. It will also require special attention with regard to promulgation of varied regulatory Acts. We have already made some progress in this regard through the enactment of the Right to Information Act, 2009, Special Integrated Education Policy for Disabled Person, 2009, Rights and Protection of Persons with Disability Act, 2013 and 2015 and National Women Development Policy, 2011. Efforts are also underway to finalize the National Integrity Strategy and the Grievance Redress System.
These efforts have led analysts to believe that if we can sustain stability and generate sufficient political will, as we did in the case of the MDGs, we will also be able to achieve the required success pertaining to the SDGs.
Muhammad Zamir, a former Ambassador is an analyst specialized in foreign affairs, right to information and good governance, can be reached at email@example.com