|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Human Rights, Rule of Law Critical to Reducing Vulnerability of Poor,
Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the General Assembly event on “Contributions of Human Rights and the Rule of Law in the Post-2015 Development Agenda”, in New York today:
I am honoured to speak at this important debate.
In the coming months, we have an opportunity — and a duty — to unite behind a transformative post-2015 agenda for sustainable development. We need to balance the needs of people and planet while eradicating extreme poverty and closing social and economic gaps. Human rights and the rule of law will be central to these efforts — both as a means and an end.
Our Organization is built on fundamental principles. We hold that all people are born free and equal in dignity and rights. We agree that everyone has the right to life, liberty and security. Poverty, inequality and injustice are an affront to these principles.
Even though we have attained the Millennium Development Goal target of reducing poverty by half, more than 1 billion people remain extremely poor. Inequality and vulnerability are increasing within and between countries — and not just in terms of income and wealth. Poverty and discrimination are linked to gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and social and other status.
The poor are most vulnerable when natural resources are scarce or unsustainably exploited. They are affected first and worst by climate change and natural disasters. The poor are also the principal victims of social instability, crime and violence. The vision of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights — of a world free from want and fear — remains a distant aspiration for too many.
As we shape a new sustainable development agenda we have an opportunity to recognize the important role of human rights and the rule of law in reducing the vulnerability of the poor and building the future we want.
Last year, my report “A Life of Dignity for All” emphasized that eradicating poverty and achieving peace and sustainable development cannot be fully attained without respect for human rights. All human rights — civil, cultural, economic, political and social, and the right to development — are interdependent and mutually reinforcing. The right to food and the right to express one’s opinion are equally important.
Everyone is entitled to all rights. That is why the new agenda must be universal and underpinned by existing human rights obligations, norms and standards. It should also reflect the need for non-discrimination, participation and accountability.
We must promote local ownership and individual empowerment. This requires access to information, freedom of opinion, expression, assembly and association. And it requires well-functioning and accessible institutions and decision-making structures. Active and informed participation produces better strategies and results.
The realization of human rights — including the right to development — depends fundamentally on the rule of law that is consistent with international norms and standards. The rule of law, at the national and international levels, is both a development outcome in its own right and an enabler of other outcomes.
Legal identity, starting from birth registration, is essential for equal access to basic services. Secure land tenure allows for planning in agricultural production, which enhances food security for families, businesses and nations. Good governance and transparency ensure effective use of public resources. The rule of law prevents corruption, illicit financial flows and transnational organized crime.
At the international level, a fair rules-based multilateral trading system can facilitate equitable growth. And, at both international and national levels, accountability mechanisms are necessary to make sure we deliver what has been promised.
We have promised a transformative post-2015 sustainable development agenda. Ending extreme poverty and balancing the needs of people and planet will require that we are guided by human rights. And realizing the rights of every man, woman and child for well-being, security and justice will require coherent and effective rule of law.
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