Will post-2015 development proposals meet the Human Rights Litmus Test?


As UN member states begin negotiations on a new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), CESR and its allies have called for all proposals to be subjected to a 'Human Rights Litmus Test'.

Speaking today at the High Level Event of the General Assembly on the Contributions of Human Rights and the Rule of Law in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, CESR's Niko Lusiani outlined eight key questions against which to evaluate whether current proposals contained in the zero draft of the SDGs respect and reflect existing human rights commitments.  

These include whether the proposals:

  • support human rights comprehensively, taking into consideration their universality, indivisibility and interdependence
  • ensure full transparency and meaningful participation of all people, especially the most disadvantaged, in decision-making at all levels
  • ensure human rights accountability of all development actors
  • guarantee that the private sector respects human rights
  • combat inequality and end discrimination in all its forms, including economic inequality within and between countries
  • specifically and comprehensively support girls' and women's rights
  • secure a minimum floor of social protection and socioeconomic well-being for all
  • ensure that any global partnerships for development are aligned with human rights

The Human Rights Litmus Test sets out detailed criteria for assessing each of these questions, providing a tool for those involved in the design of the SDGs to systematically evaluate the proposals emerging from the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (OWG).

"Human rights, including the right to development, must have real operational significance in guiding sustainable development policy and practice this time around", said Niko, one of three civil society panelists invited to address the session.

The Litmus Test was developed by the Post-2015 Human Rights Caucus, a global coalition of human rights, development, environmental, trade union organizations, co-convened by CESR, the Association for Women's Rights in Development and Amnesty International, which have been advocating for human rights to form the bedrock of the new sustainable development goals.  

While many national governments attending the debate affirmed the central importance of human rights and the rule of law to the future sustainable development agenda, it remains to be seen whether their rhetorical declarations do indeed translate into a transformative framework of goals and measurable commitments in the final proposals to be submitted by the Open Working Group to the General Assembly in September.

CESR and its allies will be working to ensure human rights not only inform the content of the new goals, but their means of implementation, including arrangements for financing, monitoring and accountability.  

  • To download a pdf version of the "Post-2015 Human Rights Litmus Test", click here.
  • To learn more about CESR's work on human rights and development, see here.