Human Rights Habitat Observatory Meets SDGs
The UN General Assembly resolution “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” cites human rights 15 times in setting out the current Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) shared by all member states of the UN. It pledges that the SDGs “seek to realize the human rights of all and to achieve gender equality” (para. 3) and even cite specific rights such as “the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation” (7), “access to justice and…the right to development” (35).
That 2030 Agenda, set in 2015, claims to be “grounded in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [and] international human rights treaties” (para. 10), as well as nonbinding policy commitments. The states have pledged also that the follow-up and review processes at all levels will be “people-centred, gender-sensitive, respect human rights and have a particular focus on the poorest, most vulnerable and those furthest behind” (74[e]). Accordingly, the resolution addresses certain vulnerable persons and groups, for example, pledging states to “cooperate internationally to ensure…full respect for human rights and the humane treatment of migrants regardless of migration status, of refugees and of displaced persons” (29).
Other operative 2030 Agenda documents intreat states to implement, monitor and evaluate the SDGs while applying all three of the “peace, development and human rights pillars of the United Nations” (2). The guidance also calls for “the advancement of all human rights: economic, social and cultural rights, as well as civil and political rights” (14).
This ideological and legal backdrop forms the basis for the method of inquiry that Habitat International Coalition has adopted its Human Rights Habitat Observatory (HRHO) approach to policy analysis and state performance reviews. This method applies eminently to the 2030 Agenda, including for HIC Members’ participating in the country-led reviews and independent assessments of progress at the annual High-level Political Forum (HLPF) at UN Headquarters (New York) every July.
So far, HIC-HLRN has worked with HIC Members and allies to assess 17 National Voluntary Review reports in 2018–19, most of which are from the MENA region. HIC-HLRN contributions have been in close cooperation with the NGO Major Groups and Other Stakeholders (MGOS), facilitated by UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), which also compiles and analyses stakeholder inputs.
The HIC-HLRN contribution to the body of work at assessing SDG performance of states has emphasized the over-arching human rights obligations of states under review. This approach seeks to remedy the trend among states and their respective governments that gallopingly retreat from their state obligations in favor of mere voluntary reviews in mutually congratulatory diplomatic forums.
The MGOS is the sole mechanism for intervention in the HLPF, the UN’s SDG main national-review process. While those interventions are limited to 300 words, HIC-HLRN joined with the MGOS in 2019 also to produce fuller, corresponding policy briefs for distribution and registration with UNDESA. So far, the HLRN has contributed to reviews of Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, India, Iraq, Israel, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mauritania, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia and UAE.
These summary interventions and policy briefs are available to HIC Members and allies upon request. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.