International Development Law Organization

Geneva: Rule of Law & the SDGs

7 Jul 2015

“What differentiates the rule of law from rule by law is human rights,” IDLO Director-General Irene Khan has said at a roundtable discussion in Geneva.

“The rule of law, properly understood and applied, ensures equality, accountability and respect for human rights,’ she said. “The rule of law operationalizes human rights.”

The event, held during the 29th session of the UN Human Rights Council, focused on the relationship between human rights and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also frequently referred to as the Post-2015 agenda.

Ambassador Joachim Rücker, President of the UN Human Rights Council and Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations in Geneva, stressed the importance of this relationship. “Human rights are an indicator of progress, and at the same time serve as early warning systems of retrogression. Negotiations are entering a critical phase, and it will be decisive that human rights and their protection be anchored as a central element of the post-2015 development agenda.”

“Human rights are at the core of the new agenda,’ echoed Ambassador David Donoghue, Co-Facilitator for Post-2015 Negotiations and Permanent Representative of Ireland to the United Nations in New York. ‘In many ways, they reverberate throughout the goals and targets,” he added. “It’s not simply a case of goal 16 [of the SDGs] being regarded as human rights, or, let’s say, gender equality. But rather, human rights are a cross-cutting feature and essential element of the agenda.’

“(This) represents a sea-change in the international community’s understanding of sustainable development,’ concluded Ms Khan, “and sets a new expectation of accountability for development. One that draws lessons from human rights mechanisms as well as development ones.”

The United Nations Summit to Adopt the Post-2015 Development Agenda is scheduled for September 2015. IDLO has been actively engaged in the post-2015 discussions taking place in both Geneva and New York.

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