Human Rights for All Post-2015

Published: December 11, 2013

 Human rights have surged to the forefront of the debate about what 

will succeed the Millennium Development Goals in 2015. As human 
rights and social justice organizations worldwide, we feel compelled 
to lay out some of the baseline implications of embedding human 
rights into the core of the sustainable development agenda this time 
At its essence, a post-2015 framework anchored in human rights 
moves from a model of charity to one of justice, based on the inherent 
dignity of people as human rights-holders, domestic governments as 
primary duty-bearers, and all development actors sharing common 
but differentiated responsibilities. Accordingly, the post-2015 
framework should be designed as a tool to empower and enable 
people—individually and collectively—to monitor and hold their 
governments, other governments, businesses, international 
institutions and other development actors to account for their conduct 
as it affects people’s lives within and beyond borders. A sustainable 
development framework founded in human rights can serve as an 
instrument for people and countries to help unseat the 
structural obstacles to sustainable, inclusive and just 
development, prevent conflict and stimulate implementation and 
enforcement of all human rights—civil, political, economic, social 
and cultural rights, the right to development, and to a healthy 
The post-2015 framework must then at the very least respect and 
reflect pre-existing human rights legal norms, standards and 
political commitments to which governments have already 
voluntarily agreed. International human rights, environmental and 
humanitarian law, the Millennium Declaration, as well as related 
international consensus documents agreed in Rio, Vienna, Cairo, 
Beijing, Monterrey and Copenhagen and their follow-up agreements 
must form its non-negotiable normative base. 
If it is going to incentivize progress while also preventing backsliding 
and violations, human rights principles and standards must go 
beyond the rhetorical, and have real operational significance this time 
around. Among other things, anchoring the post-2015 agenda in 
human rights for current and future generations implies that the 

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