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Annual high-level panel discussion on human rights mainstreaming

“The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and human rights, with an emphasis on the right to development”
Statement by the High Commissioner

Distinguished President of the General Assembly,
Distinguished President of the Council,
Colleagues and friends,

I’m honoured to be present at this discussion of the 2030 Agenda and the Declaration on the right to development, which marks its 30th anniversary this year.

The two are powerfully linked.  By putting people at its centre, the 2030 Agenda can generate political momentum for the realisation of the right to development – while the right to development provides a vital enabling environment to ensure that the goals of the Agenda will be achieved in practise, and that processes of development are inclusive and just.

The substantive convergence between the Declaration and the 2030 Agenda is remarkable. 

The struggle to bring down discrimination, which excludes millions of people from the processes and benefits of development, is at the heart of both the right to development and the 2030 Agenda.

The Declaration addresses the structural impediments that disadvantage the poor and prevent development from benefiting all. Likewise, the Agenda pledges to leave no one behind and to reach the furthest behind first. It has two dedicated goals on equality, including commitments to end discrimination and exclusion of women and girls.

The Declaration commits all States to cooperate with each other to eliminate obstacles to development and to promote an economic order based on sovereign equality. The 2030 Agenda gives effect to this commitment, through specific implementation measures under each Goal, as well asthrough the partnership commitments in Goal 17.

The Agenda also acknowledges that freedom from want and freedom from fear need to be addressed together – echoing the right to development's emphasis on human well-being and the right of every member of society to fully and freely participate in decision-making.

Mr. President,

In 2013, at the Council’s high level panel on mainstreaming, the Secretary General stated that human rights were “the DNA of the United Nations”.

The 2030 Agenda gives us an historic opportunity to make it so.

The Sustainable Development Goals seek to realise the human rights of all. The onus is now on implementation, to deliver on the Agenda`s promises of transformative change. We need to take action to ensure that human rights principles, including the right to development, are at the core of this vital new drive for human progress and well-being.

OHCHR is already working closely together with UN partners to deliver integrated, coherent support to member States Through the United Nations Development Group and other interagency mechanisms, our ambition is to enable every UN Country Team to support national partners in implementing the Agenda`s human rights commitments.

Through the UNDG Human Rights Working Group, we will continue to support UN Country Teams to systematically engage with the international human rights mechanisms.

The Universal Periodic Review, treaty bodies, and Special Procedures generate a wealth of recommendations that can help to guide the Agenda`s implementation. Work is urgently needed to make that body of guidance available to the SDG progress reviews.

Similarly, as the accountability architecture for the 2030 Agenda is being finalised, we must ensure that there is a systematic two-way flow of information between ECOSOC`s High level Political Forum and the human rights mechanisms. This is critical for both efficiency and effectiveness: minimising double-reporting, maximising coherence in recommendations, and ensuring quality inputs and outputs for each process.

A further point: we cannot fix problems that cannot be seen. Only if data is accurately gathered, and disaggregated according to all grounds for discrimination prohibited under human rights law, will we be able to guage our progress in reaching the most vulnerable and excluded. My Office will therefore continue to contribute to building a human rights-sensitive indicator framework for the 2030 Agenda.

The 2030 Agenda "seeks to strengthen universal peace in larger freedom". It recognises that development, peace and human rights are interlocking, and build on each other in a virtuous spiral with profound benefit to all. The Agenda’s resonance with the right to development is unmistakeable. And as a detailed programme for action, the Agenda – our “declaration of interdependence”, as the Secretary-General has said -- offers the people of the world enormous hope.