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How Human Rights, Rule of Law and Democracy Can Contribute to the Post-2015 Development Agenda

June 09, 2014

“The universal nature of democracy as something which people all over the world aspire to is clear from citizens’ own actions and demands for democracy.”

Strong was the call for the inclusion of not only human rights and the rule of law but democracy and democratic governance in the post-2015 development agenda, voiced at a recent high-level event organized by the President of the United Nations General Assembly (UN GA). The event, entitled “The Contributions of Human Rights and the Rule of Law in the Post-2015 Development Agenda” brought together UN Member States and agencies, as well as intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, to discuss the role of participation, transparency and accountability within the new sustainable development framework.

Massimo Tommasoli during his statement to the assembly at the “The Contributions of Human Rights and the Rule of Law in the Post-2015 Development Agenda” event, 9-10 June 2014

Massimo Tommasoli during his statement to the assembly

While some Member States expressed their doubts as far as rule of law featuring prominently in the framework, many countries underlined its importance at the national and international levels, agreeing with both the President of the GA and the UN Secretary-General (S-G) Ban Ki-moon. The UN S-G stated that the rule of law, in line with international standards, is needed both as a goal in and of itself as well as an enabler for all other goals in a new, effective development framework.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, agreed via video message that fair administration of justice was needed for truly sustainable development, along with freedom from want, fear and discrimination. The UN S-G concurred that human rights of all types must be protected in the post-2015 framework: political, social, economic and sexual.

HE Mr Ban went further, stating that transparency and good governance help to prevent corruption and transnational organized crime and ensure effective management of natural resources, which all facilitate the reduction of poverty. This emphasis on governance and effective institutions was shared by everyone from the EU to Benin, Chile to Botswana, Republic of Korea to Romania, with many countries, including Norway and Costa Rica, mentioning the necessity of democratic institutions in the new framework.

Massimo Tommasoli, Permanent Observer for International IDEA to the UN, confirmed the importance of democracy, human rights and the rule of law in the ongoing global discussions in his statement to the assembly. Dr Tommasoli called for a target on the integrity of elections within the sustainable development goals. “According to the recommendations of the Global Commission on Democracy, Elections and Security, when elections have integrity, they bolster democracy, respect human rights and produce elected officials – women and men – who are more likely to represent their citizens’ interests.”

IDEA also underlined democratic accountability as a key concern for the post-2015 development framework. Democratic accountability in public service delivery strengthens formal and legal mechanisms that facilitate the articulation of policy concerns amongst citizens while also encouraging elected representatives and public officials to be responsive in their provision of public services. Political actors, service providers and citizens alike must have a civic space to engage in dialogue so that all may have an effect on potential reforms.

Summary of the key messages from the meeting, released by the General Assembly Affairs Branch.

For more information, please contact Stephen Graf at s.graf.

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