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Putting rights at the heart of development

Graphic: Man working

The coming year offers a crucial opportunity to advance human rights-based sustainable development, says the head of the global coalition of NHRIs.


The coming year offers a crucial opportunity to advance human rights-based sustainable development, the head of the global coalition of national human rights institutions (NHRIs) said in an open letter to the United Nations Secretary-General.

In his letter, Adv. Mabedle Lourence Mushwana, Chairperson of the International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions, highlighted the growing consensus on the interdependence of sustainable development and human rights.

With a set of "sustainable development goals" expected to be adopted by the UN General assembly in 2015 to guide the actions of governments to 2030, Mr Mushwana said that the "bridging" role played by NHRIs make them well suited to help translate a universal sustainable development agenda to practical actions in their own countries.

"NHRIs can influence the national process of implementation and accountability to ensure human rights are integrated in the process of tailoring and tracking goals, targets and indicators nationally," he said.

"Furthermore, NHRIs can promote remedies for all human rights and can use their protection powers to address serious human rights concerns linked to the implementation of the Post-2015 Development Agenda."

The open letter also included the following ten principles, endorsed by more than 100 NHRIs worldwide, that seek to ensure that human rights provide a firm foundation for the Post-2015 Development Agenda:

  1. Integrates human rights standards and principles into both process and substance
  2. Addresses both sides of human dignity: freedom from fear and freedom from want
  3. Is underpinned by the imperative of equality
  4. Has a clear place for marginalised, disempowered and excluded groups
  5. Includes commitments to end poverty
  6. Advances a healthy environment, as an underlying determinant of human rights
  7. Advances international reform to ensure human rights coherence at the international level
  8. Is universally applicable
  9. Includes a strong accountability framework
  10. Extends to actors in the private sphere.

The ICC agreed to establish a working group of NHRIs on the issue of sustainable development goals at its Bureau meeting, held in Johannesburg from 16-17 October 2014.

Date: 21 October 2014


Image credits

  1. Man working - Rainforest Action Network, Flickr Creative Commons