Civil Society urges UN Secretary General to do more on MDGs progress
The Secretary-General’s report on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and post-2015 goals, A Life of Dignity for All: accelerating progress towards the Millennium Development Goals and advancing the United Nations development agenda beyond 2015, was released on 14 August. It is the 2013 edition of the Secretary-General’s annual report on MDGs progress, ahead of the 25 September General Assembly Special Event on the MDGs and post-2015 development agenda. Several civil society organizations have published responses to this report, which are outlined below.
A Life of Dignity for All provides an assessment of progress to date and identifies policies and programmes that have been successful in the achievement of the MDGs and can contribute to accelerating it. These include emphasizing inclusive growth, decent employment and social protection; allocating more resources for essential services and ensuring access for all; strengthening political will and improving the international policy environment; and harnessing the power of multi-stakeholder partnerships. The report also states that “the world’s quest for dignity, peace, prosperity, justice, sustainability and an end to poverty has reached an unprecedented moment of urgency,” and emphasizes the need to take “every step possible” to achieve the MDGs by 2015.
Additionally, the report focuses on sustainable development — enabled by the integration of economic growth, social justice and environmental stewardship — as a global guiding principle and operational standard for the post-2015 framework, in an effort to bring together the full range of human aspirations and needs to ensure a life of dignity for all.
Several civil society networks have published detailed responses to the report, including the Civil Society Reflection Group on Global Development Perspectives, the Women’s Major Group (WMG), CIVICUS, Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), Global Coalition on Women and AIDS (GCWA),Landesa, the Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR), and several others. A hub for civil society responses to the report has been created on the World We Want web platform; organizations can submit their responses directly onto this page.
CIVICUS welcomed that the report supports “the importance of linking key outcomes from the Rio+ 20 Conference on Sustainable Development with a coherent post-2015 development framework” and that its human rights based approach is a positive step, “raising hopes for the adoption of a holistic and relevant development framework to succeed the current MDGs.” Moreover, CIVICUS emphasized that the report “underscores the need for peace and stability, human rights and effective governance based on the rule of law, and transparent institutions as outcomes and enablers of development.”
The Civil Society Reflection Group on Global Development Perspectives has published two responses to the report. The first, Fit for whose purpose?, raised concerns about the “high degree of trust and hope [the Secretary-General] puts on new so-called partnerships between state and non-state actors and corporations in particular.” Questioning the positioning of corporations by the report and its approach to public-private partnerships, the statement warned against the increasing privatization of the post-2015 agenda and called for the inclusion mechanisms for monitoring and accountability.
In its second brief, Misdirecting finance - who benefits?, the Reflection Group identified gaps in the report on structural macroeconomic issues, particularly as regards the global economic and financial crisis and the “need to reform and regulate global financial markets, including through mechanisms like the proposed Financial Transaction Tax, that could both tame financial volatility and generate resources for sustainable development.” Finally, the statement raised questions about unsustainable debt, the lack of sufficient regulation, and the Secretary-General’s positioning of the need to build an enabling environment for private sector investment to leverage Official Development Assistance.
On gender equality and women’s rights, the Women’s Major Group cautioned that the report “does not fully reflect the clear asks of many civil society organizations, specifically with respect to gender equality, sexual and reproductive rights and health and peace and security.” The WMG claimed that the language used is sometimes vague or restrictive, and put forward a clear request for the inclusion in the post-2015 agenda of “a stand-alone goal on gender equality and women’s human rights.” Additionally, the WMG called for an explicit recognition of sexual and reproductive health and rights, encompassing “holistic and comprehensive and good quality sexual and reproductive health services, including safe abortion, contraception, maternity care, and prevention and treatment of STIs and HIV.” Finally, the WMG asserted that the report fails to link peace, development and women’s empowerment and urges “all relevant UN bodies and Member States to recognize the connections between the Women, Peace and Security agenda and the Post-2015 processes.”
In line with these concerns, Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) called for “a more ambitious and bold agenda that includes profound reforms in key structural areas such as the model of production and consumption, the global financial architecture, global governance and monitoring framework to align with human rights.” While acknowledging that the report goes beyond the goal of eradicating extreme poverty and promoting a more holistic view of its root causes, AWID stressed the need to “put gender equality and women’s rights at the centre in any development framework beyond goals setting.”
Global Coalition on Women and AIDS applauded the report’s call to tackle exclusion and inequality and guarantee women and girls’ full participation in the political, economic and public spheres; its zero tolerance for violence against, or exploitation of, women and girls; its focus on equality rights for and empowerment of women and girls for ending child marriage; and its commitment to sexual and reproductive health and rights. Notwithstanding, GCWA strongly recommended the incorporation of gender equality into the post-2015 agenda, “as a clear term that has a demonstrated relation to eliminating women’s vulnerability to HIV.”
Additionally, Landesa welcomed the report’s recognition of the need to empower women and girls and its placing of particular importance on women’s secure land rights. This organization celebrated that the report acknowledges the linkages between land and benefits to women and children by highlighting best practices in Latin America and South-East Asia, citing its recognition that “programmes that have combined increased food production and distribution with skills training, microfinance, land distribution and nutrition education programmes have had positive impacts on child mortality and maternal health.”
CESR expressed appreciation for many of the recommendations of the Secretary-General regarding the necessary prominence of the human rights framework in the post-2015 development agenda. CESR acknowledged the report’s “responsiveness to the calls which human rights and social justice groups in all corners of the globe have been voicing,” as well as its recommendations towards rigorous accountability mechanisms, the promotion of decent employment, and redistributive policies. Overall, CESR expressed that with this report, “the Secretary General has raised the level of debate and expectation around the role of human rights in the post-2015 development agenda.”
For a list of civil society responses to the report and space to add your own, please see the dedicated page on the World We Want web platform.