25.09.2013 |

Aftermath of the Secretary General report “a life of dignity for all” and before the UN General Assembly in September 2013


The new 19-page report of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon reporting on progress in implementation of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and with recommendations towards advancing the UN development agenda beyond 2015 came just before the UN General Assembly special event on MDGs that will take
place in September 25th, 2013.

The Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND) welcomes the report and joins to the general call towards a life of dignity for all, particularly in light of the recent developments in the Arab region and the repercussions of the global crises on the efforts to meet the goals. ANND endorses the Secretary General call in the report: “the world’s quest for dignity, peace, prosperity, justice, sustainability and an end to poverty has reached an unprecedented moment of urgency.” The Report sheds light on several aspects of progress in the implementation of MDGs with challenges faced in poverty reduction, ensuring education for all children, women’s
empowerment, improving health for women and children, environmental sustainability and in progress towards global partnership. However, the report highlights that the progress has been uneven in different countries. In fact, this became very clear in the Arab region since the eruption of the people’s uprisings in many countries. The quest for dignity was common in these uprisings as well as people’s demand for justice, equality, the respect of political, social and economic human rights.

It is worth mentioning that the uprisings erupted despite the positive rates of economic growth and the reported achievements of the MDGs. The peoples’ uprisings clearly demonstrated the extent to which the implemented neo liberal models as well as the lack of democracy had exacerbated poverty and increased inequality and unemployment. In other words, the adopted economic paradigm, which prioritized economic growth, had neglected developmental objectives and human rights, namely economic and social rights. Accordingly, we strongly support what the SG report puts out in paragraph 116 that “profound transformations [are] required to address the emerging challenges of sustainable development [and], [t]hese include economic shifts to sustainable patterns of production and consumption, effective governance and a renewed global partnership and means of implementation”.

However the report does not explain why there were gaps in human rights protection despite the presence of the legal instruments.

1) The ineffective application of human rights law to investment and trade policies

The report invites the WTO members to conclude the Doha development round. However, developing countries are concerned with the lack of interlink between development and trade on the one hand and Human Rights and trade on the other. ANND finds it necessary that trade agreements be ratified on the basis of international Human Rights, and that protection of the corporate sector and foreign investors does not conflict with the indigenous needs of the state. Moreover, ANND supports the demand to respect the “Special and Differential Treatment” in trade as a longstanding unimplemented principle in the WTO. We believe that the trading
system should enable developing countries to develop their productive capacities, to create an inclusive, sustainable and redistributive growth. Productive sectors in developing countries should be able to satisfy domestic and regional markets rather than to be export led. In this regard, the post-2015 development framework ought to be the scene for questioning and evaluating trade and investment policies based on their contribution to development goals, including their contribution to employment and productivity. Last but not least, ANND supports the proposal by the developing countries allowing them to take measures to enhance agriculture production as prerequisite for rural development and food sovereignty.

2) The lack of human rights accountability of the corporate sector

The SG in the report endorses the recommendation of the HLP about the role of the corporate sector in development. However this role should be bound to sound Human Rights standards with a special focus on the right to access to decent work and to social protection as well as the right to development. In this regards, ANND calls to implement the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations 'Protect, Respect and Remedy' Framework.

3) The ineffective policy advices and models promoted by international financial institutions (IFIs)

The model promoting liberalization, deregulation and an enabling environment for corporations have resulted in increasing growth and expanding trade exchange over the last two decades but the progress of social indicators has not accelerated. Moreover, austerity measures often target developmental and social spending. Accordingly, revision and reform to the global macroeconomic policy framework, including of the Bretton Woods institutions, namely the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) remain critical.

On the other hand, we recall that governance reform should apply to the international institutions where equal participation of all members should be prerequisite, as well as transparency in the decision-making and accountability. It is critical that post-2015 framework ensures that democratic global governance is based on the core principles of equal participation and common but differentiated responsibilities.

4) The lack of implementation to the obligations of international cooperation and assistance.

The report sets the framework for a new global partnership, which is grounded on values of “the values of equity, solidarity and human rights”. This partnership should include effective Official Development Assistance, taxation reform, and cooperation in recovering stolen assets; however the commitment is lower and limited to “key service-delivery areas”. ANND reiterates the request to ensure the accessibility, affordability, appropriateness and adaptability of technologies required by developing countries and to support technology development and transfer in all relevant sectors, including the energy, transport, industry, agriculture, forestry and waste management sectors; not only service delivery areas.

Whereas, ANND raised several issues of concern in light of the HLP report on post- 2015 agenda, the report of the SG is promising in several aspects. For instance, the HLP reports’ tone on social and economic rights was secondary; these rights were defined as basic needs. The report SG acknowledges them as basic rights and as “foundations for a decent life”. It emphasizes the “national ownership and wellmanaged policies, supported coherently by partners at all levels” as prerequisite to achieve progress. Accordingly, ANND would like to stress that the national development policies should be elaborated and adopted after an inclusive national dialogue with the participation of all relevant stakeholders. This should be perceived as an important achievement for economic development, social inclusion and environmental sustainability. By relevant stakeholders we mean the business sectors, trade, labor, farmer and professional unions, civil society organizations, think tanks, research centers, academia, women and youth movements besides others.

The report reflects on a rights based vision for the post 2015 agenda and suggests “a set of concise goals and targets aimed at realizing the priorities of the agenda”; where ANND believes that the objective oriented vision can cause the fragmentation of the efforts, while these goals might come within a comprehensive developmental framework. However, the set of goals should be interrelated and measured by qualitative set of indicators rather than simple quantitative indicators.

The Report suggests that peace and governance are key outcomes and enablers of development in post 2015, yet efforts are limited and the commitment is vague. The reality in the Arab region requires a clear call from the SG to adopt a goal focusing on the "right to self-determination" as outlined in the Millennium Declaration.

The SG recommendation to embrace a more coherent and effective response to support a universal post-2015 development agenda, with sustainable development at its core is welcome. We restate, in this regard, our position included in the declaration issued by the CSO regional consultation4,that the post-2015 agenda must capture the linkages between achieving development at the national level and addressing systemic flows in the global system, and finally it must ensure policy coherence for development.