Our Perspective

      • Where do human rights belong in development?

        14 Jun 2011

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        Women benefiting from a law in India that made the right to work an enforceable right. Photo: UNDP

        While the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and human rights are often thought of as separate concepts, synergies exist in practice. Human rights approaches seek to address the root causes of development problems. As former Secretary-General Kofi Annan once said, “Human rights can be found at the heart of every major challenge facing humanity.” At the same time, human development embraces the range of social, economic, cultural, and political rights as defined by the international community. Human development is about expanding the choices people have to lead lives which they value, the resources to make those choices meaningful, and the security to ensure that those choices can be exercised in peace. Making these links between the human development approach and human rights instruments and international laws is consistent with the approach set out in the Millennium Declaration. The words of the Millennium Declaration are clear. “We will spare no effort to promote democracy and strengthen the rule of law, as well as respect for all internationally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to development.” Read the full Declaration By signing that document in 2000, Heads of State and Government committed themselves to upholding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; Read More

      • Boosting progress on the Millennium Development Goals

        10 Jun 2011

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        Ensuring all children get access to primary education is the target of MDG2. Photo: Picture This/P.P. Saha

        Since 2000, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have served as a rallying cry for governments and peoples around the world. Without doubt, significant progress has been made. On average, people almost everywhere live longer and healthier lives, are better educated, and endure less poverty than ever before.  Additionally, according to the World Bank’s 2011 Global Monitoring Report on the MDGs, half of the countries now falling short of the MDG targets are not far away from them. Yet we are all aware of the obstacles in the way. Progress towards the Goals and targets has often been slow and uneven. Moving forward, development actors can do more to accelerate and sustain MDG progress. Narrow sectoral strategies must be replaced by a focus on the drivers of transformational change and by maximising the synergies across different strands of development work. For example, we need to back interventions which will have the greatest multiplier effects across the MDGs. UNDP identified a range of these in its 2010 International Assessment on achieving the MDGs. Initiatives which empower women are a powerful driver of progress across the Goals. Similarly, expanding access to energy can simultaneously help keep children in school, enable health services to function Read More

      • Charting the future course of the global AIDS response

        09 Jun 2011

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        Helen Clark at the 2011 High-Level Meeting on AIDS. Photo: UN Photo/Eskineer Debebe

        While the global annual rate of new HIV infections declined by nearly 25 per cent from 2001-2009, the epidemic continues to outpace the response. Two people were newly infected for each individual who started antiretroviral (ARV) therapy in 2009. Read the full report "AIDS at 30: Nations at the Crossroads". Thirty years into the epidemic, how do we renew HIV prevention to meet the target set for zero new infections by 2015? To get to zero new infections, the world needs a massive focus on prevention. First, we need to get rid of stigma and discrimination. We need to tackle the health and social inequalities, the myths, and the violence which drive the HIV/AIDS epidemic and stand in the way of effective prevention and treatment. Second, successful prevention needs strong leadership at all levels to bring HIV out of the shadows, to encourage people to make responsible choices, and to drive interventions which will meet the needs of vulnerable groups.  Third, legal frameworks need to accommodate effective responses to HIV. Where human rights are not upheld, genuine universal access to services is impossible.  The Global Commission on HIV and the Law convened by UNDP on behalf of the UNAIDS family is compiling Read More

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