In September 2015, agreement was reached on a new global development plan: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Overshadowing and influencing the long debate towards the Sustainable Development Goals’ adoption was the experience of the Millennium Development Goals, many of whose targets remained unfulfilled, and whose legacy from the human rights perspective is in many respects problematic. 

One of the central issues that CESR argued must be addressed in the new agenda was the question of accountability. The absence of meaningful accountability mechanisms in the original MDGs was one of the main reasons that progress has been so limited. If states and other powerful actors are not answerable for the commitments set out in development plans, even the most laudable of socio-economic targets are likely to fall victim to the pressures of short-sighted economic demands or political inertia.
 Placing human rights accountability at the very heart of the post-2015 agenda will be critical to make sure the commitments made are honoured in practice.

It is for this reason that in 2012 CESR and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights published “Who Will Be Accountable? Human Rights and the Post-2015 Development Agenda”. The document was intended to help position human rights in policy debates and international negotiations concerning the future development agenda, and provided a foundation for CESR’s subsequent advocacy around the question of monitoring and accountability for the Sustainable Development Goals, including around questions of indicators for measuring progress.

Moreover, accountability must be complemented by the other key principles of the human rights framework if the new development agenda is to have a genuinely transformative impact. The operational principles and standards of conduct required to make sure the post-2015 plan delivers on its promises were set out in another CESR publication, "A Matter of Justice". In accordance with international human rights law, any development plans must be ever-mindful that states are legally obliged to make adequate efforts to ensure access to health care, housing, education, and other economic and social rights – as well as to tackle rampant inequalities, including extreme economic inequality. The human rights framework can also ensure that all those involved in the development process - ranging from governments and donor agencies to international financial institutions and the private sector - are answerable to the communities and individuals their actions affect.

Viewing development through a human rights lens further requires that principles such as participation, non-discrimination, equality, empowerment and progressive realization, are taken into consideration. These standards are critically important, as it has become abundantly clear that economic growth alone is not an adequate measure of development. Indeed, the real test of progress must surely be the degree to which ordinary people can access their inherent human rights and enjoy freedom from both want and fear, without discrimination.

In recent years CESR’s efforts to hold governments to account for their obligations to fulfill economic and social rights, and its use of the Millennium Development Goals in this endeavor, has made it a leading voice on the synergies between the human rights and development agendas. CESR is one of the co-convenors of the Post-2015 Human Rights Caucus (alongside Amnesty International and the Association for Women's Rights in Development), a diverse coalition of development, environment, trade union, feminist and human rights organizations worldwide. It was also the human rights focal point (and former Executive Committee member) of Beyond 2015, the global civil society campaign of over 1000 organizations pushing for a robust and people-centred set of development commitments to succeed the MDGs. It also works in alliance with other networks campaigning for a transformative global development framework, including the Campaign for People's Goals.

Our continuing efforts in this arena come as the international community prepares to implement the SDGs. Although a number of significant human rights commitments were reaffirmed in the final 2030 Agenda, persistent pressure and new policies will be necessary to shift the trajectory of global development onto a just, sustainable and human rights-realizing path. Most importantly, the disheartening statistics and technocratic language that so often dominate the discourse of international development represent real human lives and unnecessary suffering on a massive scale. It is for this reason that the failures of the past cannot and must not be repeated in the implementation of the new sustainable development agenda.

Putting the spotlight on inequality at SDG review summit
by Luke Holland
July 18th, 2016
Blog: inequality takes center stage at UN, as High-Level Political Forum promises to 'leave noone behind' in SDGs.
Will accountability be left behind at SDG review forum?
by Kate Donald and Lena Kahler
July 11th, 2016
As the High-Level Political Forum convenes to review progress on the SDGs, CESR's Kate Donald and Lena Kahler ask whether the new agenda will succeed in “leaving no one behind”.
Side event: Leaving No One Behind - A Human Rights Approach to Combating Inequalities and Discrimination
Save the date: This High-Level Political Forum side event will explore the role human rights must play in putting equality and non-discrimination at the heart of Agenda 2030 implementation.
SDG targets risk missing the mark on inequality
by Kate Donald
March 8th, 2016
Blog: As the UN Statistical Commission debates final proposals for the SDG indicators, there is serious concern over the absence of a robust measure of inequality.
Indicators of success: how best to measure Agenda 2030
Blog: Four months have now passed since Agenda 2030 was agreed, but the crucial matter of designating indicators to measure progress remains in the balance.
Promising the World: Accountability and the SDGs
by Kate Donald
January 25th, 2016
There is one critical area where the SDGs fall dangerously short – accountability. Read the new blog by Kate Donald, Director of CESR's Human Rights in Development Program.
The Measure of Progress: how human rights should inform the SDG indicators
Briefing: As the dust settles on the UN Sustainable Development Summit, a new CESR briefing explores how human rights should inform the selection of SDG indicators that are currently being debated.
UN adopts Agenda 2030, but will governments follow through?
Statement: CESR responds to Agenda 2030, the new sustainable development goals for the next 15 years adopted by member states at the United Nations.
Agenda 2030: Rights on track?

Statement: As world leaders gather to adopt 'Agenda 2030', the Post-2015 Human Rights Caucus evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of the new framework.
Paradigm Shift or Lost Opportunity?
Invitation: CESR invites you to panel event bringing together leading figures to reflect critically on the progress made in securing human rights in Agenda 2030.
Strong commitments to human rights survive in final SDG text, despite sordid final compromises
by Kate Donald
August 5th, 2015
Blog: Kate Donald, Director of CESR's Human Rights in Sustainable Development Program, reflects on some tense negotiations and the resulting agreement for post-2015 development.
Evading accountability post-2015 will eviscerate the agenda’s ambition
by Kate Donald
July 20th, 2015
Blog: After last week's financing for development talks left both civil society and developing countries frustrated, CESR's Kate Donald looks ahead to this week's post-2015 talks at the UN.
Global civil society demands stronger 'Addis Ababa Agenda'
July 14th, 2015
Joint declaration: As world leaders meet in Addis Ababa, over 600 civil society organizations call for a stronger agreement on post-2015 financing for development.
Falling at the last hurdle? Human rights and accountability in the Sustainable Development Goals
by Kate Donald
July 2nd, 2015
Blog: CESR's Kate Donald examines the strengths and weaknesses of the recently released 'zero draft’ document for post-2015 development.
Human rights in the global partnership for sustainable development: 7 misconceptions
by Niko Lusiani
June 25th, 2015
Blog: Niko Lusiani, Director of CESR's Human Rights in Economic Policy Program, debunks the myths surrounding human rights in a meaningful global partnership for post-2015 sustainable development.
Side event: Engaging the private sector in post‐2015 human rights and accountability
On Thursday 25 June, CESR and its partners will hold a side event at UN headquarters examining the role of the private sector in post-2015 accountability.
National Human Rights Institutions can help ensure post-2015 goals deliver
June 2nd, 2015
Briefing: A new document from CESR and the Danish Institute for Human Rights explains the role National Human Rights Institutions can and must play in post-2015 development.
Breaking the accountability taboo in sustainable development negotiations
by Kate Donald
June 2nd, 2015
Blog: Kate Donald, Director of CESR's Human Rights in Development program, reflects on recent dynamics in the post-2015 talks.
Responsibilities beyond borders: unlocking the post-2015 stalemate on international cooperation
Briefing: CESR and Third World Network launch a new briefing explaining that human rights can provide a fresh lens on an entrenched stalemate in post-2015 negotiations
'The global partnership for development': tackling the accountability deficit
by Kate Donald
April 23rd, 2015
Blog: CESR's Kate Donald analyses what's needed for a truly transformative post-2015 partnership, and presents the new briefing 'Universal Rights, Differentiated Responsibilities'.
Monitoring tax spillovers in the Financing for Development Accord
UN presentation: CESR's Nicholas Lusiani has delivered an important presentation on behalf of civil society in advance of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development.
Why the Sustainable Development Goals are more than just good intentions
This statement has been released by the Beyond-2015 coalition, of which CESR is a member, in reponse to two articles published by The Economist on 28 March 2015.
Advancing Tax Justice Through Human Rights
International strategy meeting: CESR coorganized a major meeting in Lima, Peru, on 29-30 April, with the aim of building bridges between the tax justice and human rights communities.
Measuring what we treasure: exploring how human rights should inform the post-2015 indicators
Side event: On Monday 23 March, CESR together with its partners in the Post-2015 Human Rights Caucus will hold a timely debate about how to measure the SDGs and accompanying targets.
Accountability for the post-2015 agenda: A proposal for a robust global review mechanism
CESR - along with Amnesty International, the Center for Reproductive Rights and Human Rights Watch – has developed a proposal for a robust monitoring mechanism for post-2015 development.
Indicators for a post-2015 fiscal revolution
Working paper: As the UN Statistical Commission meets to debate indicators for post-2015 development, CESR and Christian Aid offer some rights-based proposals.
The Post-2015 Human Rights Caucus
The Post-2015 Human Rights Caucus is a diverse coalition of development, environment, trade union, feminist and human rights organizations united by the goal of seeing human rights meaningfully reflected in the post-2015 sustainable development agenda.
As states gear up for the post-2015 negotiations, CESR asks 'Who’s afraid of accountability?'
UN presentation: CESR's Kate Donald recently spoke at a UN forum, challenging states on their aversion to accountability for development commitments.
2015: a seminal year for integrating human rights and sustainable development?
Joint statement: The Post-2015 Human Rights Caucus assesses the good and the not-so-good in the UN Secretary General's 'Synthesis Report on post-2015 development'.
Secretary-General’s ‘Synthesis Report’: moving the post-2015 debate forward?
by Kate Donald
January 13th, 2015
Blog: Kate Donald, director of the Human Rights in Development program at CESR, reflects on the strengths and weaknesses of a recent milestone report on the post-2015 process
The ‘data revolution’: of the people, for the people?
by Kate Donald
November 24th, 2014
Blog: The provision of comprehensive, quality data is essential to rights-based development, but the much-vaunted 'data revolution' must also be empowering and people-centered.
Secretary General must prioritize rights-based financing in post-2015 agenda
The Righting Finance initiative has submitted a letter to the UN Secretary General concerning the financing issues at stake in his forthcoming report for the post-2015 talks.
States must not restrict people's participation in post-2015 process
CESR and its allies have sent a joint letter to the UN Representatives for Ireland and Kenya, who are facilitating the next phase of negotiations on the post-2015 sustainable development agenda.
Submission to UN Advisory Group on Data Revolution for Sustainable Development
CESR has delivered a submission to the UN Secretary-General's Independent Expert Advisory Group on the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development.
The post-2015 agenda won't deliver without human rights at the core
The open letter reproduced here has been sent to the Incoming President of the General Assembly of the United Nations, H.E. Sam Kutesa, by the Post-2015 Human Rights Caucus.
Transforming the development agenda requires more, not less, attention to human rights
Opinion article: Writing for Open Global Rights, CESR's Ignacio Saiz and Radhika Balakrishnan of the Center for Women's Global Leadership discuss the role of human rights in post-2015 development.
SDGs merely dead letters without fiscal justice and human rights
by Niko Lusiani
September 10th, 2014
Blog: Unless governments agree to concrete tax and budgetary commitments which ensure robust, equitable and accountable fiscal foundations for sustainable development, the SDGs are likely to fail.
Human rights for all in sustainable development: Is the post-2015 process really delivering?
Side event: On Thursday 11 September, a side event at the United Nations in New York will assess how well the post-2015 process so far has reflected the requirements of human rights.
Human rights 'non-negotiable' on post-2015 agenda, says global civil society
by Luke Holland
August 31st, 2014
Blog: Thousands of civil society organizations gathered at the UN headquarters have issued a strong call for human rights to be at the heart of the post-2015 development agenda.
Will High-Level Forum rise to accountability challenge?
by Luke Holland
July 7th, 2014
Blog: The High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development Goals is tackling one of the most crucial, and controvesial, issues in post-2015 development negotiations - accountability.
Will post-2015 development proposals meet the Human Rights Litmus Test?
June 10th, 2014
CESR's Niko Lusiani addresses the UN, setting out the criteria of a 'Human Rights Litmus Test' for post-2015 sustainable development proposals.
Human Rights for All Post-2015: A Litmus Test
Please give your organization's backing to the 'Human Rights for All Post-2015 Litmus Test', a new tool to evaluate proposals for the post-2015 development framework.
Only an economic revolution can defuse the global inequality timebomb
Op-ed: Writing in the Guardian Development Blog, CESR's Nicholas Lusiani and Christian Aid's Helen Dennis explain the need for a fiscal revolution in development financing.
Accountability moves to the fore of the Post-2015 debate
by Luke Holland
May 7th, 2014
Blog: CESR contributes to United Nations discussions on monitoring and accountability in the post-2015 development agenda.
Sustainable development requires a 'fiscal revolution'
May 5th, 2014
Policy Briefing: A new briefing, released for the 11th session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, sets out the commitments needed to deliver a 'fiscal revolution'.
OWG inches closer to human rights for all post-2015, but still a long road ahead
Joint statement: A coalition of organizations calls on the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals to make sure the call for human rights is properly reflected in their deliberations.
Human rights hold key to financing post-2015 development
News: CESR's Niko Lusiani addresses major meeting of UN development bodies, explaining why post-2015 financing must be anchored in human rights.
Civil society rallies to prevent privatization of post-2015 process
Blog: The private sector is threatening to drown out civil society's demands for a human rights-based sustainable development framework.
Financing Sustainable Development: the right partnerships for a better world
The Righting Finance Initiative has delivered a statement to the Intergovernmental Committee on Financing for Sustainable Development as it considers the theme of 'Co-Creating New Partnerships'.

OWG proposals risk sidelining consensus on human rights-centered sustainable development
March 3rd, 2014
Statement: CESR is calling on members of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals to renew their commitment to placing human rights at the core of the post-2015 framework.
As states set sights on inequality, it’s time to get fiscal
February 24th, 2014
Rising inequality is an issue whose time has finally come. But if governments are serious about halting this trend in the post-2015 development agenda, they will need to tackle the injustices of our current tax and fiscal systems.
In pursuit of a better, fairer world
Op-ed: Writing for Al-Jazeera, CESR Communications Coordinator Luke Holland examines the importance of human rights standards in addressing inequality in the post-2015 development agenda.
Visions and Voices for Human Rights
Forum summary: On 24 September 2013 CESR and its partners organized a side event at the UN General Assembly to discuss integration of human rights into the post-2015 sustainable development agenda.
Side event: Human Rights at the Core of Sustainable and Just Development
Invitation: On Friday 13 December, CESR and its partners will hold a side event in parallel to the sixth session of the Open Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals.
Over 350 groups call for human rights in core of post-2015 development plan
Joint statement: As governments meet at the UN to debate the future sustainable development agenda, over 300 organizations have called for human rights to be at the core of the new framework.
UN General Assembly: will human rights rhetoric become reality?
Governments at the UN General Assembly have recognized that human rights must be at the core of a new global development agenda. But will these rhetorical commitments be translated into practice?
UN Secretary General backs calls for human rights-based post-2015 agenda
Statement: Key report to General Assembly outlines Secretary General's vision of 'a world we have a right to expect'.
High Level Panel recommendations fall short of the human rights litmus test
Statement: CESR responds to the recent report delivered by the High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Agenda, which will feed into the design of the future development framework.
Joint statement: Human Rights for All Post-2015
A new joint statement, endorsed by 49 leading human rights and development organizations so far, calls for human rights be placed at the core of the new development agenda.
A Matter of Justice: securing human rights in the post-2015 sustainable development agenda
March 19th, 2013
Briefing: A new CESR publication argues that the human rights framework can provide operational principles and standards of conduct to ensure the post-2015 development plan delivers on its promises.
Beyond 2015: Just governance must be a cornerstone of the sustainable development agenda
Position paper: A new Beyond-2015 paper co-cordinated by CESR explains that just and effective governance must become a central pillar of any future global development framework.
Bringing a strong human rights voice to the UN Panel on post-2015
UN consultation: Human rights concerns have been highlighted extensively in a new United Nations consultation report on the form and content of a future development framework.
CESR responds to High-Level Panel questionnaire on the post-2015 development agenda.
January 11th, 2013
UN consultation: CESR has contributed to an online consultation organized by the United Nations High-level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
UN Committee stresses need for human rights in post-2015 agenda
December 6th, 2012
The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has issued a letter calling for human rights to be properly integrated into future development plans.
Human Rights after Rio+20: failure is not an option
June 21st, 2012
Blog: As the dust settles on a disappointing Rio+20 conference, the CESR blog explains why human rights norms and standards can and must inform the future course of global development.
UN experts appeal for accountability in Rio+20 goals
News: A group of 22 UN independent human rights experts have called on States to incorporate international human rights norms, with strong accountability mechanisms, into the Rio+20 sustainable development goals.
Getting the process right for the world we want
As the UN General Assembly meets to discuss the post-2015 development framework, CESR Chairperson Alicia Yamin and board member Sakiko Fukuda-Parr highlight the importance of designing effective, participative procedures in order to create a better future for all the world's people.
CESR co-hosts expert consultation on the future of the MDGs
An expert consultation was convened in Geneva on November 2-3, 2011 to discuss lessons learnt from the accountability gaps in the MDG framework, as well as how human rights can help narrow these deficits in a future post-2015 international development agenda.
CESR signs civil society letter to UN Secretary General calling for dialogue on post-2015 development framework
CESR has joined the Beyond-2015 campaign's letter addressing the UN Secretary General.
MDG failures prove need for a new rights-based development agenda
July 14th, 2011
The slow pace of progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, revealed in a newly-released UN report, demonstrates the need for a more ambitious and rights-based agenda to end global poverty.
Civil society groups call on UN Secretary-General to promote accountability on women’s and children’s health
A joint response to a UN report by civil society organizations, including CESR, stresses accountability within a human rights framework.
Development and human rights: lessons learned from the MDGs
Guest briefing written for CESR by author Rick Rowden, September 2010
Human Rights and Development: Taking Stock, Moving Forward
Post-MDG 2010 review summit meeting organized by Realizing Rights and CESR
The Millennium Summit: an opportunity to show leadership on women's rights
MDG 5, which focuses on improving maternal health, has been the most neglected and underfunded. Not surprisingly, it has shown very uneven progress.
A millennium promise, 10 years later
by Ignacio Saiz, Executive Director
September 20th, 2010
CESR Executive Director Ignacio Saiz says that the Millennium Declaration and the eight development goals that flowed from it risk going down in history as the most important promise never kept.
The MDGs, A Decade On: Keeping the Promise, Fulfilling Rights
September 20th, 2010
A new CESR review of the latest MDG data finds progress has been too slow even to meet the MDGs' modest 2015 targets. In some cases, performance on the MDG goals has decreased or stalled.
Building a Global Partnership for Development through MDG 8
MDG 8 sets a wide range of targets on trade, aid, debt and increasing access to new technologies and essential medicines. However, a review of progress on consolidating a global partnership reveals worrying trends about rich countries' commitment to the attainment of the MDGs.
Maternal Health Goal May Be Furthest Off-Target
Lack of accountability hampers achievement of MDG 5 on reducing maternal mortality and increasing access to reproductive health care, writes CESR Board Chair Alicia Yamin in a recent journal article.
Dying while giving life? Maternal Mortality is a human rights issue
Every day, 1,500 women around the world die from pregnancy or childbirth-related complications. Many of these deaths are unnecessary, but persist because of inadequate health care services for women, as well as poverty and other barriers that prevent so many women from accessing health services.