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Message to UN General Assembly: "Don't forget human rights in achieving the Millennium Goals"


A group of top independent human rights experts yesterday called on world leaders attending next week's UN Summit on the Millennium Development Goals "to be guided by human rights in finalizing the Summit Outcome Document and in establishing national action plans."

The MDGs--which range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015--were agreed upon ten years ago by all the world's countries and the leading development institutions, a press release issued by UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said.

"While fully supporting the efforts of Member States to realize the MDGs by 2015, we would like to emphasize that their realization should be an important step on the longer, and continuous, road towards the full and effective realization of all human rights for all," the group of independent experts--who are chairpersons of various UN human rights treaty bodies--said in their joint statement.

"Realizing all human rights for all is a goal in itself, and should be seen independently from the goal of generating global economic growth," the group noted. "Realizing the MDGs is but a first step in meeting their broader human rights treaty obligations."

The group drew special attention to the fact that some of the Millennium Goals, like primary education for all or gender parity, fully meet international human rights treaty obligations. However, they stressed that realization of other MDGs "would still fall short of what human rights treaties require, as treaties call for the realization of human rights for all, which goes beyond the reaching of quantified targets."

In their view, faster progress towards achieving the Millennium Goals can be accomplished by "adhering to international human rights standards, including to the principles of non-discrimination, meaningful participation and accountability."

 The chairpersons of the UN human rights treaty bodies called on Member States to increase their attention on those that are most vulnerable to discrimination, as addressed by the core international human rights treaties.

The chairpersons of the UN human rights treaty bodies who signed the statement were:

  • Yuji IWASAWA (Human Rights Committee, CCPR)
  • Jaime MARCHÁN ROMERO (Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, CESCR)
  • Anwar KEMAL (Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, CERD)
  • Naela GABR (Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, CEDAW)
  • Claudio GROSSMAN (Committee Against Torture, CAT)
  • Víctor RODRÍGUEZ RESCIA (Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture, SPT)
  • Yanghee LEE (Committee on the Rights of the Child, CRC)
  • Abdelhamid EL JAMRI (Committee on Migrant Workers, CMW)
  • Ronald Clive McCALLUM (Committee on the Right of Persons with Disabilities, CRPD)

The human rights treaty bodies are committees of independent experts that monitor implementation of the core international human rights treaties. They are created in accordance with the provisions of the treaty that they monitor.