Advocates for women, LGBTI people and other disadvantaged people worldwide have launched a campaign to persuade the United Nations to ensure the inclusion of human rights and justice as it makes plans for post-2015 development.
Are gays, lesbians and transsexuals again going to be left out as the world is setting its priorities? So far in the process, there has been strong resistance to including and naming specific vulnerable groups that require human rights protection in the documents to be presented to the world’s leaders.
The goal articulated by hundreds of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) is to ensure that “no one is left behind” as the U.N. sets goals for action from 2015 onward. How can this be done unless the vulnerable groups are specifically identified?
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has repeatedly promised to exclude “no one,” but the NGOs’ letter presented to the U.N states that “sustainable development is impossible unless human rights are at its center as a foundational pillar of vibrant, equal and prosperous societies.”
Alessandra Cabral dos Santos Nilo delivered a strong statement a few days ago to the United Nations on human rights in the implementation of the Post-2015 Development Agenda. She called for “a new cycle where human rights and justice will prevail” instead of a process too focused only on old-style economic growth while leaving behind the most vulnerable.
The U.N. is set to debate what comes next after the Millennium Development Goals. These included cutting extreme poverty by half, stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS and universal primary education. Now the process is under way to plan goals for the world after 2015, in a process launched two years ago.
Over a million people from 88 countries have participated so far in creating a vision with key messages (“A Million Voices: The World We Want”) directed to the world’s leaders who will eventually decide the post-2015 agenda at the U.N. Among the key messages to world leaders:
- “People call for a new agenda built on human rights, and universal values of equality, justice and security. Better governance underpins many of their calls.
- “The focus on concrete, measurable goals should be retained but measurement of progress needs to be improved. A data revolution will support an accountability revolution.”
We all have a stake in this process; goals and mechanisms will be adopted by the world’s nations which will affect us all for most of the next generation.
On April 9, 2014, Alessandra Cabral dos Santos Nilo co-founder and executive director of GESTOS, a human rights, democracy and AIDS NGO out of Recife, Brazil, spoke out at the U.N. in New York at the opening joint session of the General Assembly and of the Economic and Social Council. In a hard-hitting statement, Alessandra spelled out what she meant by human rights and, in her speech, listed the issues and people traditionally left behind. She said in part:
“There will only be sustainable development if human rights are a reality for all. And this is why I come before you here today, to inform you that Civil Society has raised a Red Flag…
“We express our concern that the current Post-2015 debates are still too much focused on economic growth only, without strengthening the commitments towards a new cycle where human rights and justice will prevail.
“Despite the call from the UN Secretary General that ‘no one will be left behind’ we witness the growth of conservative forces at the UN from different sides. We still have some untouchable themes in this house: sexual rights, gender identity, safe abortion, recognition of the rights of people who use drugs, gays, lesbians, transgender and sex workers are among the pending issues at the UN.
“This means that the people that historically have been left behind will continue to be so, because at this point of the UN history, despite all agreements and commitments affirming they are inter-linked, there is still a dangerous disconnection between development and human rights.”
At the end of her presentation, she delivered the letter to the U.N. “The letter, titled “The actions we need for the future we want – a civil society red flag,” was signed by over 750 NGO’s world-wide.
The letter was initiated by NGOs after the March 10-21 meeting of the U.N.’s Commission on the Status of Women in New York. from March 10 t0 21. Attended by member states, U.N. entities, and accredited NGO’S world-wide, the theme of discussions was the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls. Despite efforts by the attending NGOs, the 44 agreed conclusions remain conservative and do not mention any specific vulnerable group of women needing human rights protection and inclusion in the process.
The NGOs’ letter states: “…we are alarmed that within the post 2015 discussions, little seems to be underway to reverse the trend of doing business as usual…”. The letter is critical of the current trends stating the post 2015 agenda is: “not on track to be built on the essential priorities for a sound and effective post 2015 global agenda, namely human rights and dignity for all” despite explicit commitments by governments, …“there is still a dangerous disconnection between development and human rights”. The letter adds: “that sustainable development is impossible unless human rights are at its center”
Among the signatories are some of the major international LGBTI groups across the globe including the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, COC Netherlands, the Global Initiative for Sexuality and Human Rights, International Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), the Global Forum of Men who have Sex with Men (MSMGF), and the Coalition of African Lesbians.
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