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Putting people at the heart of sustainable development

Graphic: Girls walking home from school

NHRIs from all corners of the globe have called on governments to put the human rights of people at the heart of their national development plans.

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National human rights institutions (NHRIs) from across the globe have called on governments to put the human rights and dignity of people at the heart of their national development plans.

The Merida Declaration was adopted unanimously by the 53 NHRIs who took part in the 12th International Conference of the International Coordinating Committee (ICC) of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights.

The Declaration will be presented to the United Nations to support the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2015.

The 2030 Agenda follows on from the Millennium Development Goals and provides a globally-agreed blueprint which will shape sustainable development around the world over the coming 15 years.

The 12th International Conference was held in Merida, Mexico from 8-10 October 2015 and hosted by the National Human Rights Commission of Mexico.

The Merida Declaration described the 2030 Agenda as "a transformational framework applicable to all countries, which unites the environmental, social and economic dimensions of development".

It also noted that "[r]eferences to human rights are included throughout the Agenda" and, while acknowledging country-specific challenges, "if adequately implemented, the Agenda will have a significant impact on the enjoyment of human rights by everyone, everywhere".

Graphic: Participants at the ICC Conference

During the three-day conference, participants explored a number of key themes focusing on the role of NHRIs to promote and monitor implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

The Merida Declaration summarised these discussions and highlighted the important role of NHRIs to:

  • Provide advice to governments and others to promote a human-rights-based approach to developing, implementing and measuring sustainable development plans
  • Develop and strengthen partnerships for implementation by promoting transparent and inclusive dialogue with communities and civil society
  • Assist in shaping the global national indicators and sound data collection systems to ensure the protection and promotion of human rights
  • Monitor progress in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda at the local, national, regional and international levels
  • Engage with and hold governments to account for poor or uneven progress in implementing the 2030 Agenda
  • Ensure effective and accessible mechanisms to investigate and provide remedies for violations of human rights linked to sustainable development plans.

Participants also endorsed the establishment of an ICC Working Group on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to promote collaboration among, and a global voice of, NHRIs on these matters.

The NHRIs of Bangladesh, India, Jordan, Malaysia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Palestine, Qatar and Thailand, along with the APF secretariat, represented the Asia Pacific region at the ICC's 12th International Conference.

They were joined by representatives from NHRIs in Africa, the Americas and Europe, along with international human rights experts and key UN agencies.

Date: 16 October 2015


Image credits

  1. Girls walking home from school - Scott Wallace / World Bank, Flickr; http://bit.ly/1WaDG6p
  2. Participants at the ICC Conference - National Human Rights Commission of Mexico, Twitter