There can be no sustainable development without respect for human rights

FRENCH

  • Global civil society calls on governments to put human rights at centre of development
  • States failing to make connections between sustainable development and human rights to restrict civil society is against the spirit of Agenda 2030
  • Governments need to open channels of communications with civil society groups to make them an equitable partner in the implementation of the sustainable development goals.

Civil society groups across the globe make significant contributions to development and the Sustainable Development Goals cannot be fully realised if the onslaught on civil society and human rights defenders continues.

This is the resounding message from representatives of civil society organisations across the world. In May 2019 more than 60 representatives of civil society from 25 countries met in Johannesburg, South Africa to discuss the impact of restrictions on freedom of assembly and association on sustainable development. Reflections from the Johannesburg meeting resonate with those of many others around the world.

Ahead of the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) – the United Nations’ central platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals – taking place from July 9-18 in New York, the undersigned civil society representatives call on governments to place human rights at the centre of development.

The HLPF 2019 takes place at a time when attacks on civil society representatives have reached alarming proportions. Reports reveal that civil society is under serious attack in 111 countries, including those who will present progress made on the SDGs at the HLPF under the associated Voluntary National Review (VNR) framework. The last decade has experienced a spike in the killing of human rights defenders who exercise their right to assemble and associate peacefully. The issue of disruption of protest action and gatherings and the excessive use of force by the police and law enforcement agents is of major concern to many of the groups who endorse this statement.

 

As representatives of civil society, we note with concern that our governments make a distinction between human rights and development – often viewing campaigners and community leaders who engage in human rights activities as unnecessarily disruptive and being far removed from developmental issues. Indeed, authorities have accused them of having anti-development tendencies despite civil society actors having a stake in societal progress and being full-fledged development partners.

This disconnect often means that governments exercise too much control over the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), collude with non-state actors including private corporations in bringing about their preferred strategy for SDG implementation and often ignore or exclude the voices of civil society when launching development projects. While most human rights defenders are targeted for their campaigning, those advocating for land, environmental and indigenous rights are the most targeted and therefore most likely to be silenced.

Ahead of the HLPF, two human rights defenders – Ryan Hubilla and Nelly Bagasala from the Filipino human rights advocacy group Karapatan – were brutally killed for their work. Before the murders, Karapatan staff had been surveilled by the military and police operatives.

The HLPF will review six of the SDGs, including those promoting inequality reduction within and among countries, action on climate change, inclusive and equitable quality education and access to justice for inclusive and accountable institutions. Sadly, the issues that are up for review are at the heart of ongoing restrictions and reprisals by state and non-state actors.

In 2019 alone, peaceful protests against increases in costs of living and rising inequalities have been violently repressed in Sudan, Zimbabwe, Nicaragua and Venezuela; student protests have been prevented in Liberia; and demonstrations against flawed judicial processes violently repressed in Cameroon have been met with violent repression. In Russia, on 12 June 2019, 530 protesters were arrested and detained after demanding accountability following the arbitrary arrest, detention and release of journalist Ivan Golunov.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, there has been a spike in attacks, harassment and persecution of environmental rights defenders. In Columbia for example, paramilitary forces continue to target activists working on land, environmental and indigenous rights and have killed some like Robinson López. These are just some of the examples of the real political malaise being seen in many parts of the world, one with very serious consequences for the people involved.

States often have a narrow view of development when they regard it as the construction of infrastructure and the exploitation of natural resources. So they particularly target those who express concerns over the lack of community consultation on infrastructural projects or over environmental impact when corporations placed profits over the interests of communities when exploiting natural resources. Governments also fail to make connections between sustainable development and the use of restrictive legislation to undermine the work of civil society in various undemocratic ways.

The HLPF is an opportunity to reverse these trends as it highlights the complementarity of and interconnectedness between development partners. Its 2019 theme “Empowering People and ensuring inclusiveness and equality” reiterates the common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR-RC) principle at a time when it is clear governments cannot realise SDGs alone.   Thus, we need to emphasize that there can be no meaningful development without human rights. Civil society groups working on different thematic areas make significant contributions to development and the SDGs cannot be fully realised if the onslaught on civil society and human rights defenders continue with impunity. Lawmakers must realize that human rights defenders are not anti-government but rather support and uphold laws that do not violate human rights.

Seven human rights defenders working on issues ranging from economic development, community development, anti-corruption initiatives and the rights of women and girls are currently living under strict bail conditions in Zimbabwe, after being arrested on their return from the Maldives for participating in a capacity-building workshop.  

In light of these restrictions, we call on states to;

  • Amend, repeal and modify restrictive laws and regulations that target civil society and the freedoms of association and assembly and ensure that these laws are in line with international human rights standards;
  • Sign, ratify or adhere to agreements that protect human rights defenders and guarantee an enabling environment for them to carry out their activities.
  • Stop the practice of targeting human rights defenders, community activists and other representatives of civil society, desist from ascribing false labels to them and ensure that like every other citizen, their rights are respected and protected;
  • Establish channels of communication between the state and civil society in relation to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals to ensure that civil society is considered an equal partner in the delivery of the Goals and treated as such;
  • Ensure that at all levels, human rights are at the centre of all development initiatives and guarantee peaceful and inclusive societies, access to justice and accountable institutions and reduced inequality.

Signatories:

  • A Common Future
  • Action Foundation Common Initiative Group
  • Action pour le Developpement
  • AgriBiz Home
  • ASSAUVET/NGO
  • Action for Improvement of Food child and Mother (AFICM)
  • Alliance for Community Action
  • Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
  • AfriYAN
  • Association of citizens PLANT
  • AL-Shafaa Organisation
  • ANSA-EAP
  • Agency for Peoples Empowerment, Sierra Leone, Limited (APEM SL LTD)
  • Act Mara Diocese – Mugumu Safe House
  • Adolescents Initiatives Support Organization (AISO)
  • ADD International
  • Action Aid
  • Action for Rural Aid Empowerment
  • Actions for Democracy and Local Governance (ADLG)
  • Active Women Foundation
  • Agape Aids Control Program
  • Ahadi Forum Tanzania (AFTA)
  • Arusha Non-Governmental Organisation Network (ANGONET)
  • ARUWE
  • Association for Non-Governmental Organisation Zanzibar (ANGOZA)
  • Association of Rare Blood Donor (ARBD)
  • Balkan Civil Society Development Network
  • Business and Human Rights Tanzania (BHRT)
  • Biharamulo Community FM Radio (BCFM)
  • Biharamulo NGOs Network Forum
  • Biharamulo Originating Social Economic Development Association (BOSEDA)
  • Biharamulo Social Economic Development Association (BISEDEA)
  • BINGOS FORUM
  • Civic Initiatives
  • Centre for Peace and Justice
  • Civil Society Development Foundation
  • COSADER- Collectif des ONG pour la Sécurité Alimentaire et le Développent Rural
  • Community Centre for Integrated Development
  • Consortium of Ethiopian Rights Organizations (CERO)
  • CIVICUS, World Alliance for Citizen Participation
  • Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR)
  • Centre for Community Regeneration and Development (CCREAD-Cameroon)
  • Centre for Financial Inclusion and Sustainable Development (CenFISD)
  • Children's Assurance Program Sierra Leone (CAP-SL)
  • Centre for Social Policy Development
  • Caricuao Propone
  • Center for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development
  • Concerned Citizens of Abra for Good Government, Inc.(CCAGG)
  • CODE-NGO
  • Centre of Youth Dialogue (CYD)
  • Civic and Legal Aid Organization (CILAO)
  • CSYM HUDUMA*the Christian Spiritual Youth Ministry
  • Collaboration for Development and Humanitarian Action Inc
  • CESOPE
  • CHIFU KIMWELI FOOTBALL CLUB
  • Child Watch
  • Children Dignity Forum
  • Christian Education and Development Organisation (CEDO)
  • Civic and Legal Aid Organisations
  • Community Development Initiatives Support Organisation (COSIDO)
  • Community Focus Tanzania
  • Community for Educators and Legal Assistance
  • Community Support Initiatives-Tanzania
  • Crisis Resolving Centre
  • C-SEMA
  • CWCA
  • Discourage Youths from Encourages Poverty
  • Derecho, Ambiente, y Recursos Naturales
  • David Chanyeghea-New Age Foundation
  • Dawning Hope
  • Dignity Kwanza Community Solutions
  • Door of Hope to Women and Youth in Tanzania
  • DUNGONET (NGO’S NETWORK FOR DODOMA)
  • Economic Empowerment and Human Rights Sierra Leone (EEHRSL)
  • Education and English for You
  • Empower Society, Transform Lives (ESTL)
  • Equality for Growth
  • Fundamental human Rights & Rural Development Association FHRRDA
  • Faidika Aidika Wote Pamoja (FAWOPA)
  • FAWETZ
  • FICOFAWE WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
  • FIDELIS Yunde-Youth Movement for Change
  • Free Mind Foundation
  • Fondation Lucienne SALLA
  • Global Vision
  • GEARS Initiative
  • Gidion Kaino Mandesi Dolased
  • Girls Education Support Initiatives
  • GIYEDO
  • Gospel Communication Network of Tanzania
  • Growth Dimensions Africa
  • Global youth clan Sierra Leone chapter
  • GLOBAL MEDIA FOUNDATION
  • Glow Movement, South Africa
  • Global Vision
  • HURISA
  • HuMENA for Human Rights and Sustainable Development
  • Human rights Center Memorial and OVD-Info
  • HakaConnect.org
  • HAKI CATALYST
  • HAKI ELIMU
  • HAKI MADINI
  • HAKI RASILIMALI
  • HAKI ARDHI
  • Happy Children Tanzania Organisation
  • HILDA S. DADU-PHLI
  • HIMS ARUSHA
  • Human Rights National Association of Educators for World Peace
  • Humanity Aid for Development Organisation
  • HURUMA Organisation
  • Initiative for Good Governance and Transparence in Tanzania (IGT)
  • IHAN (International Humanitarian Activists Network) / JAKI (Jaringan Aktivis Kemanusiaan Internasional)
  • Initiative Africaine Pour le Developpement Durable
  • International Center for Environmental Education and Community Development (ICENECDEV)
  • INTRAC
  • ISDO RWANDA
  • ISRAEL ILUNDE –YPC
  • Just Fair
  • JAMII Media Limited
  • John Seka-Seka and Associates Advocates
  • JUKWAA LA KATIBA TANZANIA
  • JUMA KAPIPI
  • Jumuiya Ya Kuelimisha Athari Za Madawa Ya Kulevya Ukimwi Na Mimba Katika Mdogo (JUKAMKUM)
  • JUMUIYA YA KUELIMISHA ATHARI ZA MADAWA YA KULEVYA UKIMWI NA MIMBA KATIKA UMRI MDOGO (JUKAMKUM)
  • JUMUIYA YA KUENDELEZA UFUGAJI NYUKI NA UHIFADHI MAZINGIRA (JUKUNUM)
  • JUMUIYA YA KULINDA NA KUTETEA HAKI ZA WANAWAKE NA WATOTO MKOANI (JUKUWAM)
  • JUMUIYA YA KUTETEA HAKI ZA WANAWAKE NA WATOTO SHRHIYA YA OLE (JUKUHAWA),
  • JUMUIYA YA MAENDELEO YA ELIMU KWA WATOTO PEMBA (JUMAEWAPE)
  • JUMUIYA YA MAENDELEO YA ELIMU KWA WATOTO PEMBA (JUMAEWAPE),
  • JUMUIYA YA MAENDELEO YA WAVUVI WA KOJANI (KOFDO)
  • JUMUIYA YA MAENDELEO ZIWANI (JUMAJZI)
  • JUMUIYA YA OWEDE
  • JUMUIYA YA TUMAINI JIPYA PEMBA(TUJIPE)
  • JUMUIYA YA TUSISHINDWE DEVELOPMENT ORGANISATION PEMBA (TUDOPE)
  • JUMUIYA YA WASAIDIZI WA SHERIA PEMBA (JUWASPE)
  • KARAPATAN
  • Kagera Human Rights Defenders and Legal Aid Support Organisation
  • Kabataang Gabay sa Positibong Pamumuhay (KGPP) Inc.,
  • Kadesh International
  • Khpal Kore Organization
  • KUTAFITI-The Social Science Centre for African Development
  • KARENY MASASI
  • Kigoma Paralegal Aid Centre (KIPACE)
  • Kigoma Ujiji Non-Governmental Organisation Network (KIUNGONET)
  • Kigoma Women Development
  • KIKUNDI CHA USHINDI
  • KIWOHEDE
  • KOK Foundation
  • Lawyers for Human Rights
  • LARETOK-LE-SHERIA NA HAKI ZA BINADAMU NGORONGORO (LASHEHABINGO)
  • Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC)
  • Lindi Regional Press Club (LRPC)
  • Lindi Women Paralegal Aid Centre (LIWOPAC)
  • Liwale FARMERS Association (LIFA)
  • Migrant workers Association of Lesotho (MWA-Ls)
  • Monna ka Khomo (Lesotho Herd boys Ass.)
  • My Future Matters
  • Manyara Early Childhood Development Network
  • Mauritius Council of Social Service (MACOSS)
  • Media Education Centre
  • Magata Primary Cooperative Society
  • Manyara Regional Civil Society Network (MACSNET)
  • Mapambano Centre for Children
  • MAWAZO DANIEL-NYDT
  • Mbeya Hope for Orphans
  • Mbeya Paralegal Aid Centre (MBEPACE)
  • MBEYA WOMEN
  • MCHOMORO AIDS COMBAT GROUP
  • Media Association for Indigenous and Pastoralist Communities
  • Media Support Tanzania
  • MICHAEL REUBEN NTIBIKEMA-ELIMU MWANGAZA TANZANIA
  • MICHEWENI ISLAMIC DEVELOPMENT ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION AND AIDS CONTROL(MIDECAC)
  • MIKONO YETU CENTRE FOR CREATIVITY AND INNOVATION (MIKONO YETU)
  • Morogoro Paralegal Centre (MPLC)        
  • MSICHANA INITIATIVES
  • Mtwara NGOs Network (MTWANGONET)
  • Mtwara Paralegal Centre
  • MTWARA YOUTH ANTI AIDS GROUP
  • MUKEMBA GROUP MAENDELEO
  • MUSSA JUMA-MISA TANZANIA
  • MWANAMKE NA UONGOZI
  • National Council of NGOS (NACONGO)
  • NNATIONAL Union of Mine and Energy Workers of Tanzania (NUMET)
  • NEEMA KITUNDU-FAWETZ
  • NETWO
  • New Family Organisation
  • New Hope Winners Foundation (NHNWF)                                                       
  • NGUVUMALI Community Development of Environment
  • NICAS NIBENGO- BASE FOR EDUCATION DISSEMINATION
  • NOMADIC PASTORALIST DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATION(NOPADEO)
  • NTABYMA
  • NYAKITONTO YOUTH FOR DEVELOPMENT TANZANIA
  • Nelson Nohashi Ministry
  • New Horizon Global
  • NGO World and Danube
  • ONG Les BA TISSEURS
  • Outreach Social Care Project, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
  • Open Mind Tanzania
  • Organisation for Rural Self-Help Initiatives (ORSHI)
  • Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate
  • Population and Development Society
  • PEN Kenya
  • PAMOJA DAIMA (PADA)
  • Paralegal Primary Justice (PPJ)
  • Peace Relief Organisation (PRO)
  • PEMBA Association for Civil Society Organisation (PASCO)
  • PEMBA EAST ZONE ENVIROMENT ASSOCIATION (PEZEA)
  • PEMBA ISLAND RELIEF ORGANIZATION (PIRO)
  • PEMCO
  • Peoples Development Forum (PDF)
  • Peoples Health Movement Tanzania (PHM)
  • PINGOS FORUM
  • Policy Curiosity Society
  • Poverty Alleviation in Tanga (POVATA)
  • Promotion and Women Development Association (POWDA)
  • PROSPERUS HEALTH LIFE INITIATIVES
  • PWAAT
  • RAFIKI Social Development Organisation
  • REHEMA JOSPHEPH-CENTA
  • Resource Advocacy Initiative (RAI)
  • RIEFP
  • ROWODO
  • RUANGWA Organisation for Poverty Alleviation (ROPA)
  • Rural Woman Development Initiative (RUWODI)
  • Rainbow Pride Foundation
  • Recycle Up!
  • RESEAU DES JEUNES POUR LE DEVELOPPEMENT ET LE LEADERSHIP AU TCHAD, Chad
  • RESPECT CAMEROON
  • Salum Mbaruok
  • Sikhula Sonke Early Childhood Development
  • SPEDYA-Africa
  • Street Youth Connection Sierra Leone (SYC-SL)
  • Sujag sansar orgnaition
  • Sustainable Social Development Organization (SSDO)
  • SADELINE HEALTH CARE TRUST
  • Safe Space for Children and Youth Women Tanzania (SSCYWT)
  • SAHRiNGON
  • SAKALE Development Foundation
  • SAUTI YA HAKI TANZANIA
  • SAUTI YA WANAWAKE UKELEWE
  • Save the Mother and Children of Central Tanzania (SMCCT)
  • SAWABI BIHARAMULO
  • Service Health and Development for People
  • SHALOM OPHARNAGE CARE CENTER
  • SHAMILA MSHANGAMA
  • SHIMAWAMI
  • SHIRIKA LA BINADAMU NANDANGALA
  • SHIVYAWATA
  • SHUKURU PAUL-HRC
  • SOPHIA KOMBA-CAGBV
  • SORF DODOMA
  • Sports Development Aid Lindi
  • Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA)
  • The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy
  • The Maldivian Democracy Network
  • Tai Tanzania
  • Tanzania Agricultural Modernization Association (TAMA)
  • Tanzania Development Trust
  • TEACH
  • The Need Today
  • The Youth Voice Of SA
  • Tim Africa Aid Ghana
  • Transparence_RD Congo
  • Trio Uganda, United Kingdom
  • TUKELAKANG ENTETE FOUNDATION / YAYASAN TUKELAKANG ENTETE
  • Trag Foundation
  • TAMHA Paralegal Aid
  • TANDAHIMBA Women Association
  • TANGA Paralegal Aid
  • TANGIABLE INITIATIVES FOR LOCAL DEVELOPMENT TANZANIA
  • Tanzania Association of NGOs (TANGO)
  • Tanzania Centre for Research for Research and Information on Pastoralism (TCRIP)
  • Tanzania Citizen Information Bureau
  • Tanzania Hone Economic Association (TAHEA) BIHARAMULO
  • Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC)
  • Tanzania Legal Knowledge and Aid Centre
  • Tanzania media Woman’s Association (TAMWA)
  • Tanzania Media Women’s Association
  • Tanzania Network for Legal Providers (TANLAP)
  • Tanzania Network of Women Living with HIV and AIDS (TNW+)
  • TANZANIA Pastoralist Community Forum (TPCF)
  • Tanzania Peace Legal Aid and Justice
  • Tanzania Tobacco Control Forum
  • Tanzania Widows Association (TAWIA)
  • Tanzania Women Empowerment in Action (TAWEA)
  • Tanzania Women Teachers Association
  • Tanzania Youth Potential Association
  • TAWASANET
  • TAWEDO
  • TAWLA
  • TECDEN
  • TEN/MET
  • TGNP MTANDAO
  • The African for Civil Society (TACS)
  • The African Institute for Comparative and International Law (AICIL)
  • The Development for Accountability in Tanzania
  • The Foundation of Human Health and Social Development (HUHESO)
  • The Life Hood Children and Development Society (LICHIDE)
  • The Organisation of Journalists Against Drug Abuse and Crimes in Tanzania (OJADACT)
  • The Voice of the Marginalised Community
  • TNRF
  • Tree of Hope
  • TUNDURU PARALEGAL CENTRE (TUPACE)
  • TUPACE
  • TUSHIRIKI
  • TUWAANDAE WATOTO
  • TYVA
  • Union for Promotion / Protection, Human Rights Defense and the Environment-UPDDHE/GL Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
  • UNODC, Canada
  • UMMY NDERIANANGAB-SHIVYAWATA
  • UMOJA WA VIKUNDI VYA UZALISHAJI MALI NA UELIMISHAJI RIKA MAGU (UVUUMA)    
  • UMOJA WA WAWEZESHAJI KIOO
  • Under the Same Sun (UTSS)
  • UTPC
  • UTTI MWANGA’MBA-CWCA
  • UVINZA NGOS NETWORK (UNON)
  • Volunteer Activists
  • VIJANA ASSEMBLY
  • Vital Projection Limited
  • Voice of the Voiceless
  • Volunteer for Youth in Health and Development (VOYOHEDE)
  • Victoria Quade, New Zealand
  • Women for Social Progress, Mongolia
  • WAHAMAZA
  • WAJIBU Institute of Accountability
  • WALIO KATIKA MAPAMBANO NA AIDS TANZANIA(WAMATA)
  • WASOMI VOICE FOUNDATION
  • WGNRR AFRICA
  • Widows and Orphaned Development Organisation
  • WILDAF
  • WOFATA
  • WOMEN ACTION TOWARDS ENTRP.DEVELOPMENT
  • WOMEN DIGNITY
  • Women Legal Aid Centre (WLAC)
  • Women Life Foundation
  • Women Wake-Up (WOWAP)                    
  • Women’s Promotion Centre (WPC)
  • Women’s Empowerment in Action
  • WOTE INITIATIVES
  • WOTE SAWA YOUTH DOMESTIC WORKERS
  • WOVUCTA
  • Youth Against Aids Poverty
  • Young League Pakistan, Pakistan
  • Youth Africa and Peace Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
  • YOUTH ASSOCIATION OF SIERRA LEONE, Sierra Leone
  • Youth Harvest Foundation Ghana
  • Youth Partnership for Peace and Development, Sierra Leone
  • YUNA
  • ZAFELA
  • ZAHRA SALEHE-ICCAO
  • ZAITUNI NJIVU- ZAINA FOUNDATION
  • Zanzibar Aids Association and Support for Orphans (ZASO)
  • Zanzibar Association for Children Advancement (ZACA)
  • Zanzibar Children Rights Forum
  • Zanzibar Fighting Against Youth Challenges Organisation (ZAFAYCO)
  • Zanzibar Legal Service Centre 

 

Find out more about our work at the HLPF here. 

 

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