More from UNDESA Vol 20, No. 12 - December 2016

Leaving no one behind: the imperative for inclusive development

To meet the pledge to leave no one behind, the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development requires identifying who has been left behind and in what ways. The latest Report on the World Social Situation shows that virtually everywhere, some people and groups confront barriers that prevent them from fully participating in economic, social and political life.

Drawing on data from censuses and surveys, the report shows that access to opportunities, resources and voice are systematically affected by one’s ethnicity, age, gender, disability, migrant status and place of residence. This includes health and education services, jobs, income as well as participation in political and civic life. The report also highlights the role of discrimination as a particularly pervasive barrier to social inclusion.

The report argues that a universal approach to social policy is key to inclusive development as it addresses the underlying causes of exclusion and social injustice. Leaving no one behind, however, also requires special or targeted measures that address the unique needs and vulnerabilities of excluded groups. Moreover, leaving no one behind also calls for institutional change. Inclusive institutions can provide all citizens with opportunities to participate in public life on equal terms.

At an event last month, UN DESA’s Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development Lenni Montiel underlined one of the central messages of the report.

“Changing the social, cultural and political norms and institutions that underpin or perpetuate unequal power relations, while necessary, is often a long-term process, dependent on national and local circumstances,” Mr. Montiel noted. “However with political will, governments can influence and help transform them.”

For decades, the Report on the World Social Situation has served as the main reference on global social trends produced by the United Nations. The first report was published in 1952 and has been issued at two and three-yearly intervals since then.

For more information, and to download the latest edition of the report: Report on the World Social Situation

Promoting disability rights


Around the world today, it is estimated that approximately one billion people live with some form of disability. To protect and promote their rights, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 13 December 2016. It is the first comprehensive human rights treaty of the 21st century and is the first human rights convention to be open for signature by regional organizations. The Convention entered into force on 3 May 2008.

While the Convention does not establish new human rights, it does set out with much greater clarity the obligations on States to promote, protect and ensure the rights of persons with disabilities. Thus, the Convention not only clarifies that States should not discriminate against persons with disabilities, it also sets out the many steps that States must take to create an enabling environment so that persons with disabilities can enjoy real equality in society. For example, the Convention requires States to take measures to ensure accessibility of the physical environment and information and communications technology. As of November 2016, 168 member States had ratified the CRPD.

To celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the Convention, events will take place at UN Headquarters in New York on 2 December.

For more information:

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

10th Anniversary of the adoption of the CRPD

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