Society, rights and the environment

22 de November, 2016

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The profound global changes and challenges that stem from economic, social and environmental imbalances have demonstrated, more than ever, the centrality of human rights to sustainable development. Development will not be sustainable or inclusive unless human rights are at its core. States’ commitments under international human rights law and those related to a new style of development are mutually reinforcing and aspire to the same objectives: increase human well-being and safeguard the dignity of people. They build on equality and universality. They set common principles, standards and values, aim at achieving global public goods and address collective concerns, especially considering the most vulnerable sectors of society.

The 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) reaffirmed the importance of respecting, protecting and promoting all human rights to achieve fair and democratic societies. The recently adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development goes further in its emphasis on the interconnection between human rights and sustainable development, and its strong drive for universality, participation and inclusion. Its primary theme —“No one left behind”— is an affirmation of the fact that everyone should enjoy all rights. Placing equality at the centre of any development that is sustainable, the 2030 Agenda has unprecedented transformative potential —the potential to eradicate extreme poverty, break down inequalities, and ease our world towards more equitable, sustainable and people— and planet-centred societies. This development agenda is a human rights agenda.

This powerful interconnection of human rights, equality and sustainable development is also at the core of the mandate, priorities and proposals of the two institutions which take part in this publication: the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

One of the Economic Commission’s central concerns has precisely been the establishment of a model for sustainable development in the medium and long terms, whereby the horizon is equality, progressive structural change is the path, and policymaking, the instrument. In the proposals contained in the documents of its last four sessions —Time for Equality, Structural Change for Equality, Compacts for Equality, and Horizons 2030— ECLAC placed the need for public policies based on full entitlement to rights at the centre of the regional debate. Such policies should contribute to greater social inclusion and equality on the basis of partnerships and compacts, and a renewed equation between the State, the private sector and society.

Similarly, OHCHR is committed to helping to build a world in which all civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights are protected, universally and indivisibly, including the right to development. Human rights offer States a path towards greater stability, not less. They build systems of governance that are inclusive and just; economies that are grounded in fair access to resources and opportunities; societies that are resilient and based on respect for human dignity and equality; and an impartial rule of law. Poverty, inequality and exclusion arise because people have been made powerless —because of grinding, long-term deficits in democratic governance, essential freedoms and social dialogue. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals acknowledge these fundamental truths. They embrace the full range of civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights, as well as the right to development. And they do so as rights —not policy choices, but rights.

In this publication, ECLAC and OHCHR provide a compilation and systematization of international human rights standards applicable to access to information, public participation and access to justice. This collection contains the criteria set by international norms and shows how they have been developed and interpreted by international and regional human rights mechanisms.

Through this joint effort, we invite countries in the region to strengthen the promotion, protection and guarantee of access rights, to incorporate these rights into their strategies, policies and programmes, and to render them an imperative conceptual framework for achieving sustainable development through equality and the universality of rights.



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