26.01.2015 | OHCHR

Accountability key to achieving sustainable development goals, UN human rights experts stress

The post-2015 sustainable development goals currently being debated by the international community must be anchored firmly in international human rights standards and backed by strong means of ensuring accountability for meeting them, leading UN human rights experts have stressed.

“We welcome the emphasis placed on accountability and call for this to be strengthened,” the Chairpersons of the 10 Treaty Bodies, the expert committees that oversee implementation by States of the core international human rights treaties, said in a statement.

Their call was issued as UN Member States started discussions to finalise the draft set of 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) that will frame agendas and policies over the next 15 years, and which will be put forward for adoption by Heads of State at a UN Summit in New York in September 2015.

The Chairpersons urge Member States to reinforce the alignment of the SDGs with human rights. Their concrete recommendations include strengthening the reference to protecting fundamental freedoms (Goal 16, target 16.10) by explicitly referring to freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly.

The Chairpersons’ statement stresses that there should be reliable and validated means of measuring progress in meeting development goals, based on disaggregated data. In addition, progress should also be measured in terms of how fundamental rights and freedoms are being protected.

“UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for there to be a robust and participatory monitoring and review framework for the SDGs at the national, regional and global level,” said Malcolm Evans, Chairperson of the Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture and current head of the Treaty Body Chairpersons’ group. “We strongly support this and urge Member States to build upon the principles and inclusive working methods of the Treaty Bodies, as well as other existing human rights mechanisms such as the Universal Periodic Review.”

The statement also highlights the important role to be played by the private sector in achieving the SDGs, and the importance of ensuring private sector accountability.

“The work of the Treaty Bodies regarding corporate sector accountability is highly relevant here. For example, the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights have issued guidance regarding the impact and obligations of business,” said Mr Evans.      

The Treaty Body Chairpersons also said they would encourage their Committees to consider the impact of development goals on the enjoyment of the rights in their respective treaties, and draw on development data and reports in their dialogues with states.