OHCHR and the EU jointly promote human rights-based approach to development
European Development Days (on 26-27 November 2013) focused more than ever on the links between human rights and development. OHCHR maintained an information stand during the entire two days of the event, attended by some 6000 stakeholders.
European Development Days (on 26-27 November 2013) focused more than ever on the links between human rights and development. OHCHR maintained an information stand during the entire two days of the event, attended by some 6000 stakeholders. The program included a high-level panel on human rights-based approach to development (HRBA) with the participation of Ignacio Saiz, Executive Director of the Center for Economic and Social Rights, Heidi Hautala, former Finnish Minister of Development, Margaret Wachenfeld, Director of Legal Affairs at the Institute for Human Rights and Business, and Fawzia Yusuf Adam, Foreign Minister of Somalia. The discussion focused on the responsibilities of all duty-bearers, including business, to ensure that development efforts do not exclude disadvantaged groups in society.
“We need to look at the way in which non-aid policies often undermine human rights,” pointed out Ignacio Saiz. He also emphasized the need to overcome the anachronistic ideological divide between civil and political rights on the one hand and economic, social and cultural rights on the other hand. “We increasingly understand how artificial such distinctions are. Civil and political rights are not just ‘negative’ rights – there are positive obligations under the International Covenant on civil and political rights, too. And conversely, many of the key issues in economic, social and cultural rights today, for instance the problem of land acquisition, have a distinct ‘don’t do’ element to them.”
This year’s edition of European Development Days also included a special event on human rights, celebrating 20 years since the Vienna Declaration – and, consequently, 20 years of OHCHR – together with 20 years of the European Union’s engagement on human rights issues in the world. Keynote speeches were delivered by Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Flavia Pansieri, and EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Stavros Lambrinidis.
“International human rights treaties require States to promote substantive equality by identifying and uprooting pervasive patterns of discrimination and other underlying causes of poverty,” said the Deputy High Commissioner. “This time round, women, minorities, migrants, indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, older persons and youth must have an explicit and prominent place in the agenda.” She also emphasized that post-2015 accountability should extend to the private sector and that global partnership commitments as well as trade, investments and economic cooperation agreements should also be consistent with human rights standards.