Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always.

10 Dec 2015 by Alejandro Alvarez, Team Leader for Rule of Law, Justice, Security and Human Rights at UNDP

Eleanor RooseveltMrs. Eleanor Roosevelt of the United States holding a Declaration of Human Rights poster in English. [November 1949] Photo: UN Photo
In celebrating 2015 International Human Rights Day, we are invited to reflect on the importance of the freedoms we enjoy and to recommit to supporting the fundamental freedoms of all. UNDP’s work is based on the belief that people experience poverty, deprivation or exclusion not only as a lack of income but also as a lack of education or health care or a lack of dignity and participation in their community. These dimensions of peoples’ lives have been considered so important by governments all around the world that they have recognized them as entitlements, as human rights, both in national and in international law. 2016 will mark the 50th anniversary of the twin covenants: the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). These seminal human rights treaties, together with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), constitute the International Bill of Human Rights. Freedom is the idea that underpins international human rights law and constitutes the norms and regulations that protect and guarantee our rights. UNDP emphasizes that advancing human development is about creating an enabling environment for people to exercise their choices, which includes their indivisible civil, political, … Read more

When people are counted no one is left behind

10 Dec 2015 by Clifton Cortez, Team Leader, Gender, Key Populations, and LGBTI – HIV, Health and Development Group, UNDP

LGBTI inclusion infographicClick the picture to see the full infographic.
In September 2015, a multi-sectoral group of experts met in New York from all over the world. Despite varied perspectives, each had previously been involved in some aspect of LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trasngender, Intersex) data work or were experts in data measurement. Their goal was to reach consensus on a definition of LGBTI inclusion and provide advice on what was necessary to measure it. In September 2015, the Nepal Constituent Assembly approved a new Constitution that includes provisions protecting the rights of sexual and gender minorities. This would never have happened without the advocacy of LGBTI leaders, community activists, and allies and their efforts highlighting data, including violence against transgender people. That same month, the world adopted an ambitious new development agenda that aims to reduce inequalities, promote peaceful and inclusive societies, and provide access to justice for all. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) commit all of us to leaving no one behind. However, in every corner of our world, experiences of stigma, discrimination and violence mark the lives of millions of LGBTI people every day. These phenomena are manifested in both seemingly benign and obviously heinous forms, either being unfair. Gay men serve in the armed forces during conflict, … Read more

When home is no longer safe: Reporting human rights abuses in Yemen

10 Dec 2015 by Dina El-Mamoun, Chief Technical Advisor, Support to Human Rights Project, UNDP Yemen

A boy in stands near rubble from the conflict in Yemen.UNDP is training NGOs in Yemen to document and report on human rights abuses during the conflict and to provide support to victims. Photo: Ehab Al-Absi/UNDP Yemen
"So close to dying”. This is how Hanan describes what happened earlier this year, when forces surrounded and stormed her home in Khur Maksar District, Aden, where she lived with her husband, 4-year-old child and niece, aged 16. Later Hanan and her family fled their home due to shelling and because of gas, electricity and water shortages. In this sense, their suffering is typical of stories told by Yemenis throughout the country who describe human rights violations at the hands of the parties to the conflict, which began in March 2015 More than 2,600 civilians have been killed and more than 5,200 wounded since March, according to October figures from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Many civilians fear for their lives on a daily basis. Some 2.3 million are internally displaced, and 170 000 have fled to Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan and some Gulf countries. Many Yemenis I have spoken to are pinning their hopes on the UN brokered negotiations, which are due to commence on 15 December. One Yemeni activist told me yesterday: “We fear the worst if these negotiations do not succeed in reaching an agreement.” This year Human Rights Day has special … Read more

Fighting corruption in infrastructure – a must for achieving the 2030 agenda

09 Dec 2015 by Patrick Keuleers, Director of Governance and Peacebuilding, UNDP

construction in South SudanWorkers rebuild damaged roads in South Sudan. Quality infrastructure provides a foundation for progress on the sustainable development agenda. UNDP photo.
In September 2015, world leaders from 193 UN member states gathered in New York to adopt the ambitious 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. To achieve this universal agenda, we’ll need robust and transparent investment in infrastructure to lay the physical foundations for progress on many of the goals.  Agenda 2030 aims for a world that is profoundly different from the one we know today: free from poverty, environmentally secure for future generations, prosperous, more equal, just, peaceful and inclusive, and better governed. Corruption in the infrastructure sector represents a major threat to this vision. These were among the challenges debated at a recent International Conference on Public Construction Transparency, organised by the United Nations Development Programme in partnership with the Seoul Metropolitan Government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea. Sustainable Development Goal 9 on resilient infrastructure and sustainable industralization is the most direct commitment to accountable investments in the construction sector. Other goals -- such those on education, health, water and sanitation, climate change, energy, sustainable cities or the conservation of ecosystems -- will all require important infrastructure developments to reach their targets. According to the OECD, emerging economies alone will need US$22 trillion of investments … Read more

The SDGs need a new measure of GDP

08 Dec 2015 by Degol Hailu, Senior Advisor for Sustainable Development, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP

GDP per capita growth can go up while household income decreases. Inequality is an outcome of such divergence. Photo : UNDP in Zimbabwe
One of the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is achieving economic growth. The target of Goal 8 is to achieve “at least 7 per cent gross domestic product (GDP) growth per annum in the least developed countries”. Achieving 7 per cent growth is in the high range. In a rush to meet such a target, social and environmental outcomes may be compromised. For example, high growth can be attained through exporting labour-intensive goods while restricting wage growth. Similarly, exporting wood products can fuel growth while over-logging forests. The way we currently measure GDP will also not be a good indicator of sustainable development. Two recent and important reports have attempted to reorient GDP: the Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi Report and The New Climate Economy Report. The first report argues that using GDP as an indicator of economic performance is “attempting to guide the economy and our societies like pilots trying to steering a course without a reliable compass” (p. 9). It recommends that GDP does not unduly focus on measuring production at market prices but, instead, focuses on wealth, income and consumption at the household level, including non-market activities such as domestic work and childcare. This is because GDP per capita growth can go … Read more