By the Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW),1 Partners and Allies
We welcome the opportunity to be able to comment on the “Zero Draft of the Outcome Document for the UN Summit to Adopt the Post-2015 Development Agenda— Transforming Our World by 2030: A New Agenda for Global Action.”
Overall, we find that the document is a good starting point for the first inter-governmental negotiations on the outcome document happening on 22-25 June 2015. However, it still needs a lot of work to reflect a truly ambitious and transformative sustainable development agenda towards a world we want that leaves no one behind. We, 118 women’s groups and allied civil society and social movements from 33 countries and 7 regions, are committed to work with governments and UN institutions in order to fill in the gaps and make this happen.
Our overarching comments are as follows:The outcome document must recognize and address power imbalances and structural barriers, which are the root causes of inequalities within and between countries, and of economic and social inequalities and injustices, including gender inequality, amongst others. The call to change fundamental systems such as neoliberal globalization and patriarchy is currently absent from the document. It also should not shy away from tackling challenges around social marginalisation, such as gender and sexuality, which were hard won at Beijing and Cairo.
We also wish to raise that while the overall concern is with inequalities within and between countries—the focus is very much on least-developed countries, landlocked countries, small island countries, countries in situations of conflict, and Africa. While this is needed, it should also not be forgotten that inequality exists in developed countries, and that it is in middle-income countries (MICs) where inequality is the greatest and where a large number of poor people live.2If the SDGs aspire to eradicate poverty, the fact that majority, more about three quarters of world’s poor by income measures live in countries classified by World Bank as Middle Income Countries should be acknowledged.3 Continued support to MICs, including receipt of Official Development Assistance, and greater considerations towards the distribution of aid are needed.
We would like to also bring up that the lessons of the past show that coverage does not equate access, with regards universal health coverage. In order to make a difference to the poor and marginalised, this needs to be thought through by governments and all stakeholders.
We wish to reiterate that the targets under means of implementation should always be tied back to the achievement of targets under the goals and not seen as separate targets to achieve these goals.
The role of business and the private sector, as well as of public-private partnerships in implementing the SDGs, has been prominently highlighted in the zero draft. We are concerned that this is not matched with appropriate accountability measures to ensure that any such actions should adhere to human rights standards, and be age, disability and gender- responsive. This should also be matched with grievance mechanisms in cases of violations of human rights, including women’s human rights, including on sexual and reproductive rights.
Achieving gender equality in all realms has to be considered integral to achieving sustainable development and it cannot be separated from it, and as such it has to be integrated in all goals, targets and indicators. Gender equality cannot be achieved without ensuring sexual and reproductive health and rights of all women.
A gap in the zero draft is the lack of recognition of the critical importance of youth and adolescents in the whole sustainable development agenda. In the draft, young people are mainly referred to in terms of their economic capacity—and the need for employment. However, they should be engaged and actively participate in decision making processes, and their empowerment should be invested in, and fulfilment of their human rights should be guaranteed.
Member states should adhere to the spirit of participation and accountability, and report regularly (at least 5 times in 15 years) on the implementation of the post-2015 development framework. The process should ensure that critical feedback is given by civil society at all levels—national, regional and global—and taken into consideration by governments to accelerate progress for all as global citizens under this new agenda.
Our specific comments follow:
The zero draft should call for changing structural and systemic barriers that have resulted in getting us to where we are and in not being able to achieve the MDGs.
Para 3: The ending of discrimination of any kind and the achievement of human rights, including women’s human rights, sexual and reproductive rights, right to food and nutrition, and right to development, amongst others, should be included here.
Our Commitment and Shared Principles. The New Agenda
Para 10: Include outcomes of conferences, such as the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action (ICPD POA) and the Beijing Platform of Action (BPFA), and their follow-up intergovernmental processes at global and regional levels.
Para 11: The zero document should also reference human rights agreements, such as conventions like the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR); Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC); the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD); the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families; the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime; and their Optional Protocols; as well as Human Rights Council (HRC) Resolutions 11/8, 15/7, and 18/2 on preventable maternal mortality and morbidity and human rights; HRC resolution 17/19 and 27.32 expressing concern on violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity; the Maastricht Principles on Extraterritorial Obligations of States in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and others.
Para 17: We would like to revise the sentence to this: “It will work to ensure that fundamental rights and freedoms are enjoyed by all without discrimination on grounds of race, colour, gender, age, sex, sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, language, religion, culture, ethnicity, migration and citizenship status, political or other opinion, national or social origin, geographic location, economic situation, HIV and health status, marital status, pregnancy status, occupation, birth or disability.” Para 18: Sexual and reproductive health and rights must be added as a critical part of right to and access to health, and comprehensive sexuality education added as critical part of right to and access to education.
Para 18: While both boys and girls experience inequality, discrimination and violence, they experience these in different ways and at different levels, with girls experiencing it more heavily. The sentence should reflect this.
Para 19: Emphasis is placed on respecting national policies and priorities in the implementation of the post-2015 agenda. However, how will this be realised in contexts where national policies are either absent or contravene international human rights standard? States must be held accountable in realising the SDGs, and this must be done in adherence to human rights standards.
Para 21: Instead of vulnerable sections of the population, which implies that they do not have agency, we would like to use the term “marginalised.” As well the list need to be broadened to include people living with and affected by HIV, persons of diverse sexualities, religious and ethnic minorities, and all that are socially excluded in its full diversity. Para 22: Comprehensive sexuality education should be added as critical part of right to and access to education.
Para 23: The term universal health coverage does not equate to access; it is more limited in its meaning and refers only to “attempts to remove financial barriers to access through suitable health financing mechanisms adopted by the health system.”4 Instead • of “universal health coverage,” we would like to use “universal access to health.” Additionally, after “…universal access to sexual and reproductive health care services, including for family planning, information and education” we would like to add “and the right to have control over and make decisions on matters related to their sexuality and reproduction.” Continuum of quality care must be assured throughout the lifespan and across all locations.
Para 24: A people-centred economy must recognise women’s care work, informal workers and home-based workers. Special emphasis must be placed on female-headed households. Attention must also be placed towards ageing populations, their health, productivity, rights and other issues.
Para 26: We are concerned that urban development and planning is delinked from political processes, such as issues around equitable distribution of urban resources.
Para 27: “…accelerating the reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions” needs to be time-bound. • Aside from promoting resilience and disaster preparedness, early recovery and rehabilitation must
be added, with a focus on special gender-based needs.
Para 28: It must also be recognised that the right to self-determination of peoples living in post-colonial developing states are also hampered by various factors and these must be addressed.
Para 30: The role of business and the private sector in implementing the SDGs has been prominently highlighted in the zero draft. We are concerned that this is not matched with appropriate accountability measures to ensure that any such actions should not damage public goods, and adhere to human rights, environmental and labour standards, and be age, disability, migrant, and gender-responsive. This should also be matched with grievance mechanisms in cases of violations of human rights, including
women’s human rights.
Para 32: The greatest inequalities exist in Middle Income Countries, and it has the highest number of poor people. Move up from low income to middle income classifications does not mean reduction in the number of poor people; nor does it mean that social inequalities have been addressed, nor that human rights of all, including sexual and reproductive rights, have been recognized, protected and fulfilled. As such, ODA remains critical for Middle Income Countries.
Para 37: Add women’s, youth and community-based groups amongst the list of stakeholders to engage in. Governments must also pledge to promote an enabling environment for civil society, with their right
to organise, and freedoms of expressions, speech, the media and the internet are guaranteed. In implementing the new agenda, increased transparency is needed, as well as promotion of knowledge-building for the inclusion of those whose interests may be underrepresented or misrepresented.
Follow Up and Review
Para 38: Beyond follow-up and review, the Outcome Document must include accountability and at all levels, including the local level.
Para 39: Disaggregated data needs to be specified by gender, income, age, race, ethnicity, migration and citizenship status, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, geographic location, occupation, HIV and health status, marital status, pregnancy status, and other characteristics relevant in national contexts.
Para 39: Mentioning the role of business and the private sector in implementing the SDGs needs to be matched with appropriate accountability measures to ensure that any such actions should adhere to human rights standards, and be age, disability and gender-responsive. This should also be matched with grievance mechanisms in cases of violations of human rights, including women’s human rights.
Sustainable Development Goals and Targets
We would like to reiterate our call on the non- reduction of targets.
Para 4: This should also reference conventions like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, CEDAW, CRC, ICESR, and ICCPR, as well as agreements like ICPD POA and BPfA and their follow-up processes both at regional and global levels; processes like the International Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS, COP, and 2nd International Conference on Nutrition; and various related regional inter- governmental processes.
Para 33: Traditional and environment-friendly technologies and their promotion and preservation must also be recognised and respected.
Indicators should comprehensively address the targets, and should be robust, time bound, relevant, and specific markers of progress. They should be measurable and include a mix of quantitative and qualitative data points – to show extent and provide in-depth information.
Disaggregation of data should be done for all indicators across all goals and targets by gender, income, age, race, ethnicity, migration and citizenship status, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, geographic location, occupation, HIV and health status, marital status, pregnancy status, and other characteristics. This should reflect diversities at the country level, as well as allow for cross-country and cross-regional comparisons.
Inclusion of strategic gender and health indicators, including sexual and reproductive health indicators, are critical in order to help realize a transformative sustainable development agenda.
Civil society engagement in the development of indicators has to be ensured.
II. Means of Implementation and the Global Partnership
It is very concerning that the targets related to MOIs have been presented without the matching SDG targets, opening to the possibility that implementing the SDGs would only mean focusing on achieving these targets. It has already been indicated that these MOI targets will be discussed at length at the Third International Conference on Financing for Development. This would be very detrimental to achieving the goals and targets. For example, for goal 3, the target for implementation 3.a on implementing the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control would not enable implementation of any of the 9 targets identified in the SDG 3, which address issues as diverse as maternal mortality, communicable diseases, universal access to sexual and reproductive health care services, road traffic accidents and, substance abuse, and hazardous chemicals and pollution. We thus wish to reiterate that the targets under means of implementation should always be tied back to the achievement of targets under the goals and not seen as separate targets to achieve these goals.
Para 3: The greatest inequalities exist in Middle Income Countries, and it has the highest number of poor people. Moving up from low income to middle income classifications does not mean reduction in the number of poor people; nor does it mean that social inequalities have been addressed, nor that human rights of all, including sexual and reproductive rights, have been recognized, protected and fulfilled. As such, ODA remains critical for Middle Income Countries.
Para 6: Aside from disaggregation by gender, we should also add disaggregation by income, age,
race, ethnicity, migration and citizenship status, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, geographic location, HIV and health status, pregnancy status, occupation, and other characteristics relevant in national contexts.
We applaud the inclusion of MOI target 3.b to “provide access to affordable essential medicines
and vaccines, in accordance with the Doha
Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health, which affirms the right of developing
countries to use to the full the provisions in the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual • Property Rights regarding flexibilities to protect public health, and, in particular, provide access to
medicines for all.”
Certain goals such as Goal 1 include MOI targets that focus on resource mobilization; as such Goals 3 and 5 should also have similar targets to guarantee allocation of resources, including financial resources.
We are concerned with the promotion of Aid for Trade for developing countries as this will come attached with conditionalities, and that women’s rights, including sexual and reproductive rights, would be traded away.
III. Follow-up and Review
Follow-up and review processes should be inclusive and transparent at all levels (including local) and to all themes for civil society. This should be matched by funding and capacity strengthening support for diverse civil society, particularly those who serve and represent women, youth, and marginalised groups, and those coming from developing and middle- income countries.
Para 3a: Add that human rights principles and standards, including women’s human rights, should be the basis for implementation of the SDGs.
Para 3.e: Add disaggregation by citizenship status, HIV and health status, marital status, pregnancy status, occupation, and sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. Both qualitative and quantitative data must be used to show extent and provide in-depth information.
Para 5: At the national level, include national human rights institutions, as well as women’s youth and community-based groups, and social movements amongst those playing a role in the reviews.
Para 8: To ensure coherence, the HLPF should take into account and link with other processes, including those for major UN conferences like CEDAW, CRC, CRPD, ICPD and BPFA.
Ensure that accountability mechanisms are in place for States, as well as for the private sector, and public-private partnerships, such that they adhere to the highest standards of human rights and social justice. These should be linked to other existing processes, such as the Human Rights frameworks.