Human Rights for All Post-2015: A Litmus Test

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The time is now to ensure human rights is at the core of the new sustainable development agenda. As negotiations over the post-2015 sustainable development framework move into their final phase, there is a serious threat that national governments' rhetorical commitments to human rights will be watered down. Over the past few months, the Post-2015 Human Rights Caucus, a global coalition of development, environment, trade union, feminist and human rights organizations, has been pushing for the full incorporation of human rights in the new development agenda. In order to ensure the proposals of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, which will be debated throughout June, provide a roadmap for a genuinely transformative framework, the Caucus has prepared a Human Rights for All Post-2015 Litmus Test as a unique tool to evaluate whether proposals for the post-2015 framework respect and reflect pre-existing human rights norms, standards and commitments.

Human Rights for All Post-2015: A Litmus Test, June 2014

The Post-2015 Human Rights Caucus was born in 2013 as a cross-constituency coalition of development, environment, trade union, feminist and human rights organizations worldwide to lay out a roadmap for embedding human rights into the core of the post-2015 sustainable development agenda. As the Open Working Group’s (OWG) efforts near completion and the full-blown political negotiations begin, the Post-2015 Human Rights Caucus has developed this Litmus Test to be used to evaluate whether proposals for the post-2015 framework respect and reflect pre-existing human rights norms, standards and commitments, in line with the Rio+20 agreement that sustainable development goals be “consistent with international law”. This series of questions and criteria not only clearly articulate our bottom-line expectations for the outcomes of the post-2015 sustainable development process, but also provides a unique tool for all those involved to more objectively assess whether post-2015 proposals truly encapsulate what the UN Secretary General envisioned as “a far-reaching vision of the future firmly anchored in human rights.”

Do the post-2015 sustainable development framework proposals…

Test 1: Support human rights comprehensively, taking into consideration their universality, indivisibility and interdependence?

  • Apply universally to all people in all countries, while recognizing local realities.
  • Frame all goals and targets consistently with existing human rights obligations.
  • Improve the accessibility, availability, acceptability, and quality of goods and services essential to realizing economic, social and cultural rights, in particular the human rights to health, education, food, water, sanitation, housing and social security.
  • Include concrete targets to protect civil and political rights, in particular the freedoms of expression, association, peaceful protest, political participation, access to information, and guarantees an enabling environment for civil society and human rights and environmental defenders.

Test 2: Ensure full transparency and meaningful participation of all people, especially the most disadvantaged, in decision-making at all levels?

  • Ensure the right to prompt and effective access to high-quality information on public policies, including on budget, financial and tax policies, disaggregated on the basis of various grounds of discrimination, including compound and intersecting forms.
  • Secure active and meaningful participation of all without fear in the design, implementation, and monitoring of all relevant policies and programs, and in decisions about how they are resourced.

Test 3: Ensure human rights accountability of all development actors?

  • Support citizen-led systems of monitoring of performance in meeting the goals.
  • Ensure human rights accountability domestically, including by securing for all the right to effective remedy for civil, political, social, economic, cultural and environmental human rights abuses through equal access to and confidence in effective, accountable and impartial justice systems.
  • Ensure human rights accountability internationally, including by supporting access to effective remedy for those people adversely affected by policies which have spillover effects across borders.
  • Eradicate existing barriers to justice, particularly for people in poverty and other disadvantaged groups.

Test 4: Guarantee that the private sector respects human rights?

  • Promote effective legislative and regulatory measures to guarantee in practice that all companies act in line with international human rights law and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
  • Introduce mandatory, independent assessments and periodic public reporting of the human rights and sustainable development impacts of large businesses.

Test 5: Combat inequality and end discrimination in all its forms?

  • Guarantee timely collection of disaggregated data on the basis of the most nationally-relevant grounds of disparity and discrimination, taking into account compound and intersecting discrimination.
  • Ensure that any non-zero or non-universal sectoral commitments are complemented by time-bound targets to progressively eliminate inequalities between groups by prioritizing a more ambitious rate of progress for those most disadvantaged groups.
  • Combat economic inequality within and between countries.
  • Protect decent work and fundamental worker's rights for all, reducing unfair income disparities.
  • Seek to eradicate cross-border tax evasion, return stolen assets, forgive odious debt and progressively combat tax abuses as critical instruments to reduce inequality between countries.

Test 6: Specifically and comprehensively support girls’ and women’s rights?

  • Ensure all individuals meaningful access, including financial access, to acceptable, available, and quality sexual and reproductive health information and services and full sexual and reproductive autonomy.
  • Prevent, investigates and punishes all forms of gender-based violence, including harmful traditional practices.
  • Increase the share of women’s control over land, property, productive and natural resources, their economic independence, access to labor market and political participation.
  • Reduce the burden of unpaid care work.
  • Eliminate the multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination women and girls face, and entails a series of positive measures to overcome structural discrimination and ensure substantive enjoyment of equality.
  • Ensure that gender equality and girls’ and women’s rights are mainstreamed throughout all goals, including by developing gender-sensitive targets under other goals.

Test 7: Secure a minimum floor of socioeconomic well-being for all?

  • Embrace a universal or zero target approach for all minimum core economic and social rights obligations, such as nutritionally adequate and safe food to ensure all people’s freedom from hunger, free primary education, essential primary healthcare, and a basic essential level of safe water.
  • Guarantee a quality social protection floor for all, in line with human rights and ILO recommendation 202.

Test 8: Ensure that any global partnerships for sustainable development are aligned with human rights?

  • Ensure human rights-guided policy coherence, with governments and international financial institutions mandated to conduct independent and periodic public assessments of the human rights and sustainable development cross-border impacts of their policies and agreements, particularly those related to trade, investment, aid, tax, migration, intellectual property, debt, monetary policies and financial regulation.
  • Include clear, time-bound commitments for all actors in development, including high-income countries, international institutions and large businesses.
  • Develop a robust, multi-faceted global monitoring and accountability framework which tracks the compliance and accountability of all development actors to their commitments, including high-income countries, international institutions and large businesses, with full civil society participation and in constructive interaction with the human rights protection regime.

* If your organization would like to endorse the Human Rights For All Post-2015 Litmust Test, please fill out the online form here.

    1.    African Sky, The Netherlands
    2.    Anthropology Watch, Philippines
    3.    Article 19, Global Campaign for Free Expression and Information, UK
    4.    APVV UNION, India
    5.    Association of NGOs of Aotearoa, New Zealand
    6.    Avocats Sans Fronti??res, Belgium
    7.    Blue Veins, Pakistan
    8.    Bond, United Kingdom
    9.    Burundi Child Rights Coalition, Burundi
    10.    Centre For Human Rights And Climate Change Research, Nigeria
    11.    Centre for Democracy and Development, Nigeria
    12.    Center for Economic and Social Rights, International
    13.    Centre for Human Rights Studies, University of Surabaya, Indonesia
    14.    Committee to Protect Journalists, USA
    15.    Center for Reproductive Rights, International
    16.    Center for Women in Governance (CEWIGO), Uganda
    17.    Child Rights International Network, UK
    18.    CIVICUS, South Africa
    19.    Civil society organization network for development (RESOCIDE), Burkina Faso
    20.    Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society, Kyrgyzstan
    21.    CONADEC, DRC
    22.    CONCORD Sweden
    23.    Concertation Nationale de la Soci??t?? Civile du Togo (CNSC Togo), Togo
    24.    Cosader Cameroun, Cameroon
    25.    Democracy Monitor, Azerbaijan
    26.    Ebony Youth and Orphans Support Initiative Kenya, Kenya
    27.    Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, Egypt
    28.    Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, Egypt
    29.    Equidad de Genero: Ciudadania, Trabajo y Familia, Mexico
    30.    European Environmental Bureau, Belgium
    31.    Feminist Task Force, International
    32.    Femlink Pacific, Fiji
    33.    FEMNET (African Women's Development & Communication Network), Kenya
    34.    FODEP, Zambia
    35.    Forum Human Rights Germany, Germany
    36.    Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE), Uganda
    37.    Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI), Uganda
    38.    Four Freedoms Forum, USA
    39.    Freedom Forum, Nepal
    40.    Front Line Defenders, Ireland
    41.    Fundaci??n CONSTRUIR, Bolivia
    42.    Gender and Development Advocates (GANDA), Philippines
    43.    Gesr Centre for Development, Sudan
    44.    Global Call to Action Against Poverty - Philippines
    45.    Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, USA/Switzerland
    46.    Global Partnership[ for Local Action (GP4LA), Austria
    47.    Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, International
    48.    Good Shepherd International Justice Peace Office, USA
    49.    Grey Panthers, USA
    50.    Habitat International Coalition (HIC), Egypt
    51.    Hawai'i Institute for Human Rights, USA
    52.    Human Dignity, France
    53.    Human Rights Watch Kenya
    54.    IBON International, Philippines
    55.    International-Lawyers, Switzerland/International
    56.    Ipas, International
    57.    Isis-Women's International Cross Cultural Exchange (Isis-WICCE), Uganda
    58.    Jahon, Tajikistan
    59.    Kepa ry, Finland
    60.    Labour,Health and Human Rights Development Centre, Nigeria
    61.    Law Life Culture, Bangladesh
    62.    Legal Aid of Cambodia, Cambodia
    63.    Legal Service for Human Rights Commission, India
    64.    Ligue des Droits de la personne dans la region des Grands Lacs (LDGL), Rwanda, Burundi and DR Congo
    65.    Light for the World, international
    66.    Maison de la Societe Cvile (MdSC), Benin
    67.    Masculinity Institute ??? MAIN, Kenya
    68.    Minority Rights Group International, UK, Uganda, Hungary
    69.    Nansen Dialogue Centre Serbia, Serbia
    70.    National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE), Uganda
    71.    National Fisheries Solidarity Movement, Sri Lanka
    72.    NDC Montenegro, Montenegro
    73.    NGO Federation of Nepal, Nepal
    74.    North-West University, South Africa
    75.    Oceania Human Rights, USA
    76.    Odhikar, Bangladesh
    77.    Oman Group for Human Rights, Oman
    78.    Pakistan NGOs Forum, Pakistan
    79.    PDHRE, People's Movement for Human Rights Learning, USA
    80.    Peace Movement Aotearoa, New Zealand
    81.    Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement, Philippines
    82.    Plataforma de ONG de Accion Social, Spain
    83.    Population Matters, UK
    84.    Rainbow Genders Society, Malaysia
    85.    Reseau Des Associations Et Groupements Des Femmes Handicap??es Du Tchad (RAGFHT), Chad
    86.    RESURJ, International
    87.    Right Defenders Pakistan, Pakistan
    88.    Sanayee Development Organization, Afghanistan
    89.    SERR, United States
    90.    SIGLO XXIII, El Salvador
    91.    SocialTIC A.C., Mexico
    92.    Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI), South Africa
    93.    Social Watch, Uruguay
    94.    Society of Catholic Medical Missionaries, Intenational
    95.    Solidar, Belgium
    96.    Solidarite Des Femmes Burundaises Pour Lutter Contre Le Sida Et Le Paludisme Au Burundi, Burundi
    97.    South Sudan Society for Democracy in Action, South Sudan
    98.    Stand Up For Your Rights, The Netherlands
    99.    Sudan Democracy First Group (SDFG), Uganda
    100.    Terre Des Jeunes Du Burundi, Burundi
    101.    Thai Committee for Refugees Foundation (TCR), Thailand
    102.    Think Centre, Singapore
    103.    Treatment Advocacy and Literacy Campaign (TALC), Zambia
    104.    Twerwaneho Listeners Club, Uganda
    105.    Uganda National NGO Forum, Uganda
    106.    Unanima International, USA
    107.    Union de Jeunes pour la Paix et le D??veloppement, Burundi
    108.    Union Of Palestinian Women's Committees, Palestine
    109.    United Methodist Church--General Board of Church and Society, US/International
    110.    Unitarian Universalist Congregation, USA
    111.    University of Antwerp, Research Group on Law and Development, Belgium
    112.    Wash United
    113.    West Africa Network for Peacebuilding in C??te d'Ivoire (WANEP-CI), Ivory Coast
    114.    Women's Advocacy and Communication Network (WANET), Cameroon
    115.    Women???s International League for Peace and Freedom
    116.    Voluntary Action Network India, India
    117.    Young Women's Leadership Institute, Kenya
    118.    Zi Teng, Hong Kong