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OHCHR MoU with Pacific Islands Development Forum

OHCHR MoU with Pacific Islands Development Forum will result in greater focus on human rights in work towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals

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30 August 2018, Suva, FIJI – Human rights will have a more prominent position in efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Pacific Islands, thanks to a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed today between the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ (OHCHR) and the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF).

The MoU lays out five areas of cooperation, joint advocacy on human rights, work on psychosocial disabilities, albinism, advocacy and support for implementation of the SDGs, supporting human rights compliance in business activities and climate induced migration and displacement.

“We are delighted to sign this agreement with the Pacific Islands Development Forum today, as it paves the way for greater advocacy for human rights in the region,” said OHCHR Regional Representative Dr. Chitralekha Massey.

“The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a powerful framework for addressing inequalities and for dismantling discrimination. But equality will not improve nor discrimination decline if implementation of the Agenda fails to take into account the values, principles and norms enshrined in international human rights instruments, including the Declaration on the Right to Development,” added Massey at a talanoa, (a traditional dialogue), to sign the MoU in Fiji’s capital Suva.

The SDGs are 17 goals agreed to in 2015 by developed and developing countries. They aim to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity, by a target date of 2030.

The goals have a strong human rights underpinning, starting with the Agenda’s preamble, which states that the SDGs “seek to realize the human rights of all and to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls”.

The principles of equality and non-discrimination are at the heart of the SDGs. The goals include a commitment to ‘leave no one behind’, special attention to marginalized groups and two dedicated goals on combatting discrimination and inequalities (Goal 5 on gender equality and Goal 10 on inequalities within and between countries).

“Leaving no one behind” takes a human rights approach (rather than a charity approach) to countering discrimination, exclusion and inequalities faced by marginalized groups. Policies and programmes prioritize eliminating discrimination and reducing inequalities, using disaggregated data to identify and address who is being left behind and why.

One focus of the work of OHCHR and PIDF in the Pacific Islands will be respect for the right to health, specifically mental health. Massey noted that during their lifetimes very few people with mental health conditions or psychosocial disabilities will benefit from the sort of accessible, quality services and support that are their right. Instead, profoundly harmful stereotypes about people living with – or perceived to have – mental health conditions will condition the health services they receive, with a long-term impact on their participation and inclusion in society.

“Collaboration between PIDF and OHCHR will explore ways to reaffirm the dignity and equality of users of mental health services, people with psychosocial disabilities and those with mental health conditions,” she added.

OHCHR is a participant in UN interagency working groups that are developing guidance materials for UN country teams on how to mainstream human rights in SDG implementation.

ENDS

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