Human Rights Council Calls for Greater Urgency to Fulfill SDGs’ Promise
UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré
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The UN Human Rights Council convened a one-day meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss actions to achieve international human rights norms in tandem with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Speakers warned of lack of progress toward achieving human rights and the SDGs, and urged governments to build on the synergies between the two agendas, noting that just 12 years remain to meet the deadline.

16 January 2019: The UN Human Rights Council convened a one-day meeting to discuss actions to achieve international human rights norms in tandem with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Speakers warned of lack of progress toward achieving human rights and the SDGs, and urged governments to build on the synergies between the two agendas, noting that just 12 years remain to meet the deadline.

The HRC Intersessional Meeting for Dialogue and Cooperation on Human Rights and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which took place in Geneva, Switzerland, on 16 January 2019, was mandated by a March 2018 decision of the Council (resolution 37/24). It convened in advance of the July 2019 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), and took up the HLPF’s theme of ‘Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.’

The meeting brought together UN Member States, human rights experts, representatives of UN agencies and regional human rights mechanisms, national human rights institutions (NHRIs) and civil society to share achievements and lessons learned. The meeting was chaired by Morten Jespersen, Permanent Representative of Denmark to the UN in Geneva. Coly Seck, HRC President and Permanent Representative of Senegal, made opening remarks.

Michelle Bachelet, UN Human Rights Commissioner and former President of Chile, drew attention to rising inequality worldwide, and pointed to barriers to achieving the 2030 Agenda, including women’s inequality, hunger, war and the negative impacts of climate change. Mary Robinson, former Human Rights Commissioner and President of Ireland, stated that human rights norms are “a bulwark against incoherent and unequal progress towards the SDGs,” and called on governments to provide essential services including access to healthcare, education, quality housing, and safe drinking water and sanitation.

In a series of panel discussions, delegates considered ways to promote achievement of human rights and the SDGs through national actions as well as global partnerships. A final session discussed “bringing the human rights narrative to the HLPF.”

Key points arising from the intersessional meeting will feed into deliberations of the July 2019 HLPF as it reviews progress on several SDGs, namely: SDG 4 (quality education); SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth); SDG 10 (reduced inequalities); SDG 13 (climate action); SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions); and SDG 17 (partnerships for the Goals).

The intersessional meeting is one of two meetings mandated by HRC resolution 37/24 to take place in advance of the 2019 and 2020 sessions of the HLPF, respectively. [HRC Press Release] [HRC Webpage on Intersesssional Meeting] [Programme] [Concept Note] [HRC Resolution 37/24]


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