Support the Peoples Health Movement

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This November the People’s Health Movement published the fourth edition of Global Health Watch which has become a recognized “Alternative Health Report.”  I am reaching out to ask your support for the important work done by the People’s Health Movement.

The People’s Health Movement (PHM) is active in about 70 countries, primarily in the global South. PHM has led the global fight for health justice since 2000 when it drafted the widely endorsed People’s Charter for Health. Its large network of activists, academics, and organizations works on every level to realize the right to health for all through advocating for global social justice and the need to address the social determinants of health.

PHM works toward our goal for a healthier world through four core programs: 

A staff of only seven highly dedicated individuals in India, Egypt and South Africa coordinate the organization, but volunteers do the bulk of PHM’s work.  Historically, PHM has been able to obtain funding from international funding agencies, but this has been particularly difficult since the global financial crisis.  

There are many ways you can support PHM

If you haven’t already, please read and sign the People’s Charter for Health

Consider making a tax-deductible donation to support the core PHM programs. Globally, the average donation to PHM is $100. But donations in any amount are gratefully accepted through the Hesperian Foundation website.
Become a member of PHM’s Global Solidarity Network. Through the Global Solidarity Network, you can support PHM with monthly or annually reoccurring donations.
You can stay informed and involved via our PHM Exchange list serve and at the PHM website.

Consider buying a copy of Global Health Watch 4 through Hesperian’s website (outside of North America purchases at Zed Books).

​If you have any questions about any of this information or about PHM global, PHM-North America or PHM-USA, don’t hesitate to contact me. And if would like to learn more about, get involved in, or connect with PHM in another way, you can send a message to this list or to me personally.

 With gratitude and continued commitment,

Leigh Haynes
PHM Global Steering Council Co-Representative
North America Region


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Food for an out of context thought


Human Rights Reader 351


In the right context, human rights are relevant to all dimensions of sustainable development. They must shape the purpose and content of all its goals, its targets and the metrics used to measure progress, as well as the way duty bearer commitments are implemented and accounted for. (CESR) But is this the case in the post 2015 development agenda under discussion?


Development blues


Inequalities are pressing at the seams of our social fabric. (Christine Lagarde)


  1. At present, in the development arena, the so-called ‘international community’ has proclaimed itself as a replacement of the UN. Media of dominant powers keep repeating the phrases: “The International Community believes this or that, decides this or that”. Looking more closely, we discover that the ‘international community’ they refer to is made up of the United States, the European Union and two or three handpicked countries such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar. (Or, as P. Craig Roberts says: What is the international community? Is it the assemblage of US and Europe’s plus its vassal states?) Actually what is required is the resurrection of human rights in the UN, the only acceptable frame for the expression of the international community. (Samir Amin)


  1. More and more today, in-the-distorted-way-things-are, higher growth rates correlate with increasing inequalities, increasing sections of the population being rendered vulnerable and no decreases in discrimination. International summits end up reiterating the same problems rather than identifying new solutions that break with the ruling paradigm. Governments and international NGOs seem to be celebrating not the achievement and follow through of any decisions, but the fact that a certain summit took place and the fact that ‘it provided opportunities for encounters and for networking’. The most central of issues are over-and-over systematically left to be addressed en passant, with no really relevant break-through resolutions and decisions made. Equity, equality, political issues, structural change, empowerment (especially of women and youth), the need for more policy space for developing countries, debt forgiveness*, issues of global economic governance, and the need for a new economic order and financial architecture are rarely touched upon. (SID) No surprise that only shy and woolly recommendations come out. In sum, we live in a stage of development where promises are deceivingly stimulating, but achievements in human rights (HR) are, at best, worrisome.**

*:   Debt is considered manageable for poor countries if it remains below 40% of GDP. (F+D 47:4, Dec. 2010)

**: Most people who work in development jobs do not have much commitment to HR and lack real de-facto political clarity about them; so the world keeps turning and only little, non-quantum changes are achieved. (Adapted from the poet Jerome Koenig)


Looking with hindsight should instill in us a greater sense of urgency


  1. The first generation of development economics (1950 onwards) stressed state-led development. The second generation (1970s onwards) stressed a greater market orientation. Now the focus (of the ‘international community’…???) is on communities. Or is it? But the problem is that when inequalities become too great, it is claimed the idea of community cohesion becomes more elusive. (R. Arons) So, just claiming the obvious, namely that greater equality is needed, simply does not fit the bill of what is really needed. The times call for less rhetoric and more action. (A. Arora)


  1. No more taking advice! Advice pitched mainly by technocrats in the capitals of the North to technocrats in the field in the South –with little or no concern for how such advice may be applied (and less so communicated) to citizen as claim holders.***

No more centralization of development functions! Functions that keep chaos and instability (decentralization at least offers the hope of greater incentives leading to more stability).

No more development merely as a relief effort! Development is a human right –one that is too often violated primarily by not engaging actively with communities.

***: Many community members, long away from the classroom, will lack the patience (rightly so) to digest a lecture from somebody who does not live the problems of underdevelopment first hand. They favor crafting the content of development messages themselves so as to ensure they spread and achieve real grassroots ownership. (F+D 50:4, December 2013)


Grandiose top-down policies mostly do ruin initiatives born at the local level


-Top-down mostly means normative, i.e., such policies seek to align value systems and standards of multiple technical actors and build consensus. But do they really align and build …or do they impose…?

-There is a danger in top-down policy making when ‘reason’ does not represent an intelligence that understands, but only an ignorance that refutes and argues baselessly. (Albino Gomez)


  1. Over the years, economic development policy making, because it has been imposed from the top, has mainly been an exercise in the-theory-of-second-best-social-policy-making. Policies might have had some kind of an internal rationale but, by different agencies not really communicating with each other, they were applied differently. As a result, not only delays have occurred, but work has been implemented at cross purposes –and still the urgent social improvements they were supposed to address are not being addressed, particularly because proper participation and representation was not considered. (F+D 50:4, December 2013)


  1. Because of this, we have been hearing more and more calls for policy coherence. The question is coherence for whom and for what? Often this has meant government/private sector coherence. And this is not what is needed! Actually, the lack of coherence is not the main problem. The main problem is that we, in public interest civil society, are not the owners of policy making –we are not even participants. More frequently than us, the private sector has been influencing policy, often contradicting policies put forward by us so we end up being the jedis fighting Dart Vader, i.e., Luke Skywalker fighting The Force. (Well, in the film, The Force is actually defeated…).


  1. We all know that moves to give the private sector an increased role in ‘delivering development’ are not being matched by efforts to, once and for all, holding businesses and corporations more accountable to their HR responsibilities. (CESR)


The lingering questions


  1. How then are the people to remain, or become, sovereign if they are in no position even to identify who, or what, is making the decisions that affect their lives? Democracy has in no way kept up with the pace of globalization. Whether nationally or internationally, authority is exercised without the consent of the governed. The people are given few tools and close to no information to understand who is actually running what. Corporations exercise power without taking up corresponding responsibility. Whereas voters can eventually sanction governments and throw them out of office, corporations are not only beyond popular reach through votes, but collect spurious privileges such as ‘personhood’ in the USA or full status in the United Nations. (Susan George)


  1. So, no more feeding into the governmental processes? In good part the answer here would be yes. Instead, feeding into the grassroots processes has the greater potential to bring us right where we want to be, i.e., to put HR at the center. As an un-postponable starting point, then, massive HR learning efforts are needed so as to build the capacities of claim holders and duty bearers for the path to be urgently pursued to use the appropriate process-centered metrics/measurements to assess progress towards the progressive realization of HR. The focus simply needs to shift to ‘where the rubber hits the road’. A change of paradigm is needed for this –a new paradigm that will be a true tectonic shift and that absolutely requires understanding HR beyond being only a new legal paradigm. It is much more than this!


A call to action


  1. The post 2015 development agenda preparation process shows us how little we, in public interest civil society, are able to influence the overall ‘international development community’ to embark in the so badly needed change of paradigm. Over and over, we face resistance from powerful nation states influenced by the interests of the corporate sector.


  1. This resistance is at work despite the development agendas at local, national and global levels having been increasingly marked by a series of failures attributable to decreasing social cohesion and processes of social disintegration. Religious, linguistic, historical and ethnic dimensions of identity are becoming not only a dividing element, but provide the motivation and justification for social segregation, discrimination and violence. Apart from the identification of these issues, there has been no discourse evolving on development strategies countering these challenges. This is one urgent reason why we need to work towards the affirmation and understanding of HR globally as the key element of urgently needed inclusion, as well as a means of everybody internalizing the impact and costs of non-action for the future of our grandchildren. I repeat: As an un-postponable starting point, massive HRL efforts are needed so as to build the capacities for the path to be urgently pursued at both national and global level. (W. Lichem)


  1. Making us aware and repeating over-and-over that the problems we face are complex and difficult to solve is not helpful. We have what we have and we are all expected to come up with solutions. Let the time not pass, for now is the time to act. The times definitely do not call for procrastination or despair, but call for action. I make an impassionate call for colleagues to become more literate in (and take up) the HR framework to development.


Claudio Schuftan, Ho Chi Minh City



-The concept of ‘paradigm’ involves the interrelated concepts of ontology, epistemology and methodology. [Ontology –What is out there to know?, Epistemology –What and how can we know about it?, Methodology –How can we go about acquiring knowledge? (What procedures should we use to acquire more of the needed HR knowledge…)].

-In line with the old adage, in HR work, you should never let a good crisis go to waste.

-There is light at the end of the tunnel: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice”. (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr) or “Facing the old society, with its economic miseries and its delirious politics, a new society is on the rise”. (Karl Marx, 1870)

New issue of Social Medicine Journal Published

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We are pleased to announce that Social Medicine has just published its latest issue at We invite you to review the Table of Contents here and then visit our web site to review articles and items of interest.  A Spanish version of the journal is avaialable at

Social Medicine
Vol 8, No 3 (2014)
Table of Contents

Bolstering the Biomedical Paradigm (99-100)
Frank Thomas Houghton,  Sharon B Houghton

Original Research

The Chilean AUGE healthcare guarantees from a patient perspective: a survey of access to healthcare in rural central Chile (101-112)
Caitlin Schrepel, Eric Tanenbaum, Gerald Paccione, Roberto Belmar

Revisiting Bandoeng (113-128)
Socrates Litsios

Social Medicine in Practice
Shaking Off Our Lassitude: Creating a Global Health Service-Learning Program
Founded in Social Medicine (129-138)
Francis Xavier Coughlin

Themes and Debates
Mainstreaming social determinants of health (SDH) terms into the PubMed
database would facilitate effective scrutiny of SDH (139-142)
Sivan Y.S.

Exploring the Hidden Curriculum of Global Health (143-146)
Kelly Christine Anderson, Jane Philpott,  Danyaal Raza

Post 2015 development agenda latest

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The latest draft of the Secretary General’s Synthesis Report is just out.


Attempting a contribution, I have carefully read it.


With all due respect for the SG, and being an old development warrior, I chose to take a devil’s advocate view of it –-a sort of dispassionate reality check without any hype, primarily focusing on what I still see the Report’s serious shortcomings.


I went point by point and commented on the text itself using bold font for anybody’s quick review and easy reference.


I do recognize that my focus is biased in that I am primarily critical and do not give credit to the good aspects of the report. For that I apologize.


I do hope this is taken as a contribution to the still ongoing process of finalizing the post 2015 development agenda.


Here below the review for your perusal.


Claudio Schuftan, PHM, Ho Chi Minh City




United Nations

The Road to Dignity by 2030: Ending Poverty, Transforming All Lives and Protecting the Planet

Synthesis Report of the Secretary-General On the Post-2015 Agenda

New York December 2014, Advance unedited 4 December 2014 10:00 a.m.


Table of Contents




Rio+20 Outcome Document, The Future We Want


  1. A Universal Call to Action to Transform our World beyond 2015


  1. The year 2015 offers a unique opportunity for global leaders and people to end

poverty, transform the world to better meet human needs and the necessities of economic

transformation, while protecting our environment, ensuring peace and realizing human

rights. Why now and not before?

  1. We are at a historic crossroads, and the directions we take will determine

whether we will succeed or fail on our promises. Were we not before? With our globalized economy and sophisticated technology, we can decide to end the age-old ills of extreme poverty and hunger. Could we not before? Or we can continue to degrade our planet and allow intolerable inequalities to sow bitterness and despair. Our ambition is to achieve sustainable development for all.

  1. Young people will be the torch bearers of the next sustainable development

agenda through 2030. We must ensure that this transition, while protecting the planet,

leaves no one behind. We have a shared responsibility to embark on a path to inclusive

and shared prosperity in a peaceful and resilient world where human rights and the rule of

law are upheld. Only from now on? Not before?

  1. Transformation is our watchword. At this moment in time, we are called to lead

and act with courage. We are called to embrace change. Change in our societies. Change

in the management of our economies. Change in our relationship with our one and only


  1. In doing so, we can more fully meaning what? respond to the needs of our time and deliver on the timeless promise made at the birth of the United Nations. Were we not able before?



  1. Seventy years ago, in adopting the Organization’s founding Charter, the nations

of the world made a solemn commitment: “to save succeeding generations from the

scourge of war, to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of

the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small,

to establish conditions under which justice and respect for international law can be

maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger


  1. Building on this core promise, the Declaration on the Right to Development

(1986) calls for an approach that will guarantee the meaningful participation of all in

development, and the fair distribution of its benefits.

  1. Humankind has achieved impressive progress in the past seven decades. We

have reduced violence have we? and established global institutions, a code of agreed universal principles, and a rich tapestry? of international law. We have witnessed stunning technological progress, millions (upon millions) lifted from poverty, millions more empowered, diseases defeated, life expectancies on the rise, colonialism dismantled true?, new nations born, apartheid conquered in South Africa, democratic practices take deeper roots, and vibrant, economies built in all regions although at very different paces.

  1. Since the 1992 “Earth Summit” in Rio de Janeiro, we have identified a new

pathway to human wellbeing – the path of sustainable development and done enough about it?. The Millennium Declaration yes and the Millennium Development Goals not really… articulated in the year 2000 placed people at the center, generating unprecedented improvements in the lives of many around the world, but still leaving too many behind. The global mobilization behind the MDGs showed that multilateral action can make a tangible difference In many, but not all nations of the world.

  1. Yet conditions in today’s world are a far cry from the vision of the Charter.

Amid great plenty for some, we witness pervasive poverty, gross inequalities, joblessness, disease and deprivation for billions. Displacement is at its highest level since the Second World War. Armed conflict, crime, terrorism, persecution, corruption, impunity and the erosion of the rule of law are daily realities. The impacts of the global economic, food and energy crises created by? are still being felt. The consequences of climate change created by? have only just begun. These failings and shortcomings have done as much to define the modern era as has our progress in science, technology and the mobilization of global social movements. Yes!


  1. Our globalized world is marked by extraordinary progress alongside

unacceptable – and unsustainable – levels of want, fear, discrimination, exploitation,

injustice and environmental folly at all levels.

  1. However, we also know that these problems are not accidents of nature or the

results of man-made phenomena beyond our control. They result from actions and omissions of people – public institutions, the private sector, donors and others purportedly charged with protecting human rights and upholding human dignity.

  1. We have had the know-how and the means to address these challenges for decades now. But we need belated urgent leadership and joint action now.
  2. These are universal challenges. They demand new heights of multilateral action

based on evidence and built on shared values, principles, and priorities for a common

destiny. Which we do not have yet for ingrained ideological reasons.

  1. Our global commitments under the Charter should/must compel us to act. Our sense

of outrage, empathy and enlightened self-interest should compel us to act. Our responsibilities as stewards of the planet should equally compel us to act as de-facto duty bearers. None of today’s threats respect boundaries drawn by human beings – whether those boundaries are national borders, or boundaries of class, ability, age, gender, geography, ethnicity, or religion.

  1. In an irreversibly interconnected world, the challenges faced by any become the

challenges faced by each of us – sometimes gradually but often suddenly. However,

facing these vexed? challenges is not only a burden; it is far more an opportunity to forge

new partnerships and alliances that can work together to advance the human condition. Yes, but partnerships as equals –not as one partner always being a yes-man…

  1. The MDGs experience provides compelling evidence that the international

community can be mobilized to confront such complex challenges as long as actions do not change the balance of power among nations and among social classes. Governments, public interest civil society and a wide range of international actors coalesced behind the MDGs in a multifront battle against poverty and disease. They generated innovative approaches, vital new data, new resources, and new tools and technology for this struggle but failed to live up to the commitment of the MDDeclaration to make all processes human rights based. Transparency was often enhanced, multilateral approaches were strengthened maybe, but of what kind?, and a results-based approach to public policy was fostered to what avail, really?. Sound meaning what? public policies inspired by the MDGs, enhanced by collective action and international cooperation rarely human rights-based, lead to remarkable successes although not universally. In two decades since 1990, the world has halved extreme poverty, lifting 700 million out of


extreme poverty but leaving many millions behind. Between 2000 and 2010, an estimated 3.3 million deaths from malaria were averted, and 22 million lives were saved from fighting tuberculosis. Access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) for HIV-infected people has saved 6.6 million lives since 1995 Q is: Could we have achieved more?. At the same time, gender parity in primary school enrolment, access to child and maternal health care, and in women’s political participation improved steadily.ii yes, but fast enough?

  1. We must invest in the unfinished/unaddressed work of the MDGs, and use them as a

springboard into the future we want – a future free from poverty (and) built on human

rights, equality and sustainability. This is our duty and it must be the legacy we strive to

leave for our children. …yes, better late than never.

  1. In our quest to shape a global sustainable development agenda for the years

beyond 2015, I have always asked why we have to wait till after 2015… the international community has embarked upon an unprecedented process that we (cautiously) hope will yield real results.

Never before has so broad and inclusive a consultation been undertaken on so many

matters of global concern. Have key inputs from the consultations been incorporated into this report? What kind of filters were applied? In two short years since the Rio + 20 Conference laid the

cornerstone for the Post-2015 process, all Member States, the entire UN system, experts,

and a cross-section of public interest civil society, social movements, business and—most importantly– millions of people from all corners of the globe, have travelled this crucially important journey. This, in itself, is reason for great hope. Why? Will they be given an active role as watchdogs of the commitments by member states being held up? The creativity and shared sense of purpose that has emerged from across the human family is proof that we can come together to innovate and collaborate in search of solutions and the common good. Careful that we do not get carried away by our wishes. The vested interests of nations and corporations may/will still stand in our way.

  1. Having now opened the tent? wide to a broad constituency, we must recognize

that the legitimacy of this process will rest in significant measure on the degree to which

the core messages that we have heard are reflected in the final outcome. Exactly what I mean. This is no time to succumb to political expediency, or to tolerate the lowest common denominators. The new threats that face us, and the new opportunities that present themselves, demand a high level of ambition and a truly participatory, responsive and transformational course of action. The vested interests of nations and corporations may/will still stand in our way.

  1. This includes tackling climate change. As underscored by the Intergovernmental

Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), climate change exacerbates threats. It makes delivering

on the sustainable development agenda more difficult because of reversing positive

trends, new uncertainties, or mounting costs of resilience. Look at COP20 in Lima. Does what happened there bode well for the post 2015 development agenda? This is what I mean.


  1. This enterprise can therefore not be business as usual. How true. But what are the prospects? ‘Paper commitments’ and then little to show for? We cannot leave out of the equation the fact that this synthesis report still primarily is a top-down exercise. Business will only change when forceful demands come from an empowered and organized grassroots movement demanding the needed changes.
  2. People across the world are looking to the United Nations to rise to the

challenge with a truly transformative agenda and actions that isare both universal and adapted to the conditions of each country, and that places people and planet at the center. Their voices have underscored the need for democracy, rule of law, civic space and more effective governance and capable institutions; Voice is not enough; it is now time for voice to move into real influence! for new and innovative partnerships of equals, including with

responsible needs qualification!!! business and effective they often are not thus the need for claim holders to demand local authorities; and for a data revolution meaning disaggregation by vulnerable groups?, rigorous accountability mechanisms by whom?, and renewed global partnerships Not PPPs as we are having them now with their flagrant conflicts of interest!. People are also stressing that the credibility of the new agenda rests on the means that are available to really implement it.

  1. Three high-level international meetings in the year ahead give us the opportunity

to chart a new era of sustainable development. (How) Will claim holder groups be represented in the same and actually in all these?? The first will be the International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa in July, where a compact for a global partnership can be realized among whom? Will TNCs be part of it? Would that be acceptable?. The second will be the special Summit on sustainable development at the United Nations in September, where the world who exactly is that? will embrace the new agenda and a set of Sustainable Development Goals, which we hope true will mark a paradigm shift for people and planet. The third will be the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris in December hope for better than Lima?, where Member States have pledged to adopt a new agreement to tackle a threat that could

make it more difficult to deliver on the new development agenda.

  1. The stars are aligned for the world to take historic action to transform lives and

protect the planet how I hope this were true. We need much more than stars aligning... I urge Governments and people everywhere to fulfill their political and moral responsibilities. This is my call to dignity, and we must respond with all our vision and strength naming and shaming the powers that be that stand in the way of our noble cause.


  1. A Synthesis

“All that is valuable in human society depends upon the opportunity for development accorded the individual.” Albert Einstein


2.1 What we have learned from two decades of development experience

  1. There is much that is new, and, indeed, transformational in the global

conversation on the Post-2015 Agenda. Is there really? Has much not been known for long? But the roots of this conversation are deep, and extend to the experience of the development community in the last twenty years, and the visionary outcomes of the global conferences of the 1990s, the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, the Millennium Summit and the MDGs of 2000, the 2005 World Summit, the 2010 MDG Summit, and the lead up to the Rio+20 Conference in 2012. Did all these deliver on the commitments made? If they had, wouldn’t the post 2015 agenda be lighter and easier?

  1. The cornerstone for the current global process of renewal was established in Rio

de Janeiro in June of 2012, with the adoption of the outcome document of the United

Nations Conference on Sustainable Development “The Future We Want.” The

document described the lessons learned from two decades of development experience,

and provided an extensive assessment of the progress and gaps in the implementation of

the sustainable development agenda.

  1. While very insufficient, partial and uneven, progress has been (remarkable) made. Only two short decades ago, close to 40 per cent of the developing world lived in extreme poverty, (although this has dropped, what about poverty in absolute numbers now?) and the notion of poverty eradication seemed inconceivable (How wrong it has been, all along, to focus on poverty eradication instead of on disparity reduction! This has been the missed challenge all along. The cake is only so big and it has to be re-sliced). Following profound? and consistent gains, we now know that extreme poverty can be eradicated within one more generation. This was true long ago. The MDGs have greatly contributed to this progress, and have taught us how governments, business, and public interest civil society can but do not work together to achieve transformational breakthroughs.
  2. We have witnessed significant progress in several Least Developed Countries

(LDCs) in the past two decades. In the same period, some middle-income countries have

become new engines of global growth, lifting many of their own citizens out of poverty

and creating a sizeable consumerist… middle class. Some countries have shown real progress in reducing inequalities. Others have attained universal health coverage depending how we define it: NOT with minimum care packages for people rendered poor by an unfair system. Still others have evolved into some of the world’s most advanced and digitally connected societies. Wages have in some cases increased, social protection has in some cases been expanded, green technologies have in some cases taken root,


and education standards have in some cases advanced. Several countries have emerged from conflict and made steady gains on the road to reconstruction, peace and development other have fallen into protracted conflict. These wide ranging experiences demonstrate that vulnerability and exclusion can be overcome, and what is possible in the years ahead provided claim holders are empowered and mobilized the world over. This will require massive campaigns of human rights learning.

  1. New demographic trends are changing our world. We are already a global

family with many orphans of seven billion people and are likely to reach nine billion by 2050. We are an ageing world, as people live longer and healthier lives. We are increasingly an urban world, with more than half the world’s population living in towns and cities. And we are a mobile world, with more than 232 million willing or unwilling international persecution of economic migrants – and almost one billion when internal migrants are counted. These trends will have direct impacts on our goals and present both challenges and opportunities.

  1. We see how new technologies can open up more sustainable approaches and

more efficient practices. But technology is not a solution to this planet’s development problems. We know that the public sector can raise significantly more revenues by reforming tax systems, fighting tax evasion, correcting inequities, and combatting corruption. But the will of the haves who wield the power is simply not there. Look at the fate, so far, of passing a universal Tobin tax or of curbing capital flight by ending secret bank accounts. We know that there is an enormous amount of untapped and wasted resources that can be directed to sustainable development. We know that forward looking companies alas too few of them are taking the lead by transforming their business models for sustainable development, and that we have only scratched the surface of the potential for ethics-driven investment beyond lip service and glossy brochures by the private sector. With the right incentives, policies,

regulations and monitoring, great opportunities could abound. Opportunities for what? We know that a data revolution is unfolding, allowing us to see more clearly than ever where we are and where we need to go, and to ensure that everyone is counted. Not forgetting that we need such data revolution and transparency for TNCs activities. We know that although nascent creative initiatives across the world are pioneering new models of sustainable production and consumption that can potentially be replicated. We know that governance at both the national and international levels can be reformed to more efficiently and particularly more democratically!! serve 21st century realities. And we know that our world today is host to the first truly globalized, interconnected, and highly mobilized public interest civil society, ready and (able) committed to serve as an equal participant, joint steward, and powerful engine of change and transformation. Still missing though is their being invited/allowed to interact with UN agencies and member states on an equal footing in the pertinent decision-making processes.

  1. We have already begun to correct our course towards transformation. Have we, beyond plenty words?
  2. The discussion on the Post-2015 Agenda has stressed the importance of the

specific conditions of each country, an advance why? in perspective from the MDG framework.


Following sanctioned human rights principles, special attention was/is!! required for the most vulnerable, in particular African countries, least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and the small island developing States. Particular attention should/must also be given to the challenges faced by the middle-income countries and countries in situations of fragility and conflict where most of the worlds poor people live.

  1. Member States have emphasized that sustainable development must be inclusive

and people-centred. They have underscored the importance of ecosystems to people’s

livelihoods, their economic, social, physical and mental well-being, as well as their

cultural heritage – “Mother Earth” as it is known in many traditions. How much of this is genuine or just ‘to keep up with the Jonses’?

  1. Member States have also underscored the need to improve measures of progress,

such as a better distribution of (have they?) gross domestic product , in order to better inform policy decisions. …as written, this does not follow; not logic. While acknowledging the natural and cultural diversity of the world, they have also recognized that all cultures and civilizations can contribute to sustainable development. I do not see many of them doing this. Finally, they have called for holistic and integrated approaches to sustainable development that will guide humanity to live in harmony with the planet’s fragile ecosystems. Sorry, I do not see this. Does anybody?

2.2 What we have learned from the post-2015 process

  1. The international community has come a long way in its deliberation on the new

development agenda. In July 2013, further to a request by the General Assembly, I

submitted to the membership my report A Life of Dignity for All. In it, I recommended

the development of a universal, integrated and human rights-based agenda for sustainable

development, addressing economic growth, social justice and environmental stewardship

and highlighting the link between peace, development and human rights – an agenda that

leaves no one behind. I called as well for rigorous review and monitoring, better and

more disaggregated data, and goals and targets that are measurable and adaptable. I

outlined a number of transformative actions that would apply to all countriesiii.

  1. Many voices have informed this debate, and there have been valuable inputs

from a wide range of stakeholders. But have we really ended up with a human rights-based agenda demanding greater equality? Together with many, I think no.

(a) People around the world aired their views through the unprecedented consultations

and outreach efforts of organized civil society groups as well as the global

conversation led by the United Nations Development Group on A Million Voices:

The World We Want, Delivering on the Post-2015 Agenda: Opportunities at the


National and Local Level, and MY World Survey. Millions of people especially

young persons, took part in these processes, through national, thematic, and on-line

consultations and surveys, as mirrored in the Global Youth Call and the outcome of

the 65th Annual UN DPI/NGO Conference. The direct and active engagement of

parliamentarians, business and civil society has also been critical. True. But have we really ended up with a human rights-based agenda demanding greater equality? Together with many, I think no.

(b) The leaders of the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015

Development Agenda called for five “transformative shifts” that leave no one behind

by 1) ending extreme poverty wrong focus: needed is disparity reduction, 2) placing sustainable development at the core, 3) transforming economies for decent jobs and inclusive truly redistributive growth, 4) building peaceful societies as well as open, transparent, accountable governance, and 5) forging a new global partnership for sustainable development. Unfortunately not being clear about the risks of partnerships with the private sector allows in players with grave conflicts of interest.

UNACCEPTABLE TO SO MANY OF US IS HOW THE HLPEP LEFT OUT THE SHIFT TO A HUMAN RIGHTS-BASED AGENDA. IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN #1. Note that this is a clear demonstration that the many consultations which insisted on this were simply disregarded. How are we expected to trust?

(c) The academics and scientists convened through the Sustainable Development

Solutions Network recommended the adoption of a science-based and not human rights-based: perhaps because scientists are a bit ignorant about HR…? and action orientedagenda, integrating four interdependent dimensions of sustainabledevelopment (economic, social, environmental, and governance).

(d) The key role of business in the post-2015 agenda was distilled in the report of the UN

Global Compact. Companies are ready to change how they do business and

contribute by transforming markets from within and making production, consumption

and the allocation of capital more inclusive and sustainable. Is it only me that thinks this is mumble jumble? What are they really committing to? Isn’t this typical double talk? Keep in mind that the Global Compact does have conflicted partners.

(e) The report of the Regional Commissions highlighted the importance of regional

efforts in adapting globally agreed goals and policy priorities to nationally specific

realities. Did they recommend a HR focus demanding greater equality?

(f) The experiences and expertise of the UN system were put forward in the report of the

UN System Task Team on the Post-2015 Agenda and the work of the Technical

Support Team (TST). Did they recommend a HR focus demanding greater equality?

(g) At the Principal? level, leadership and guidance was received through the UN System

Chief Executives Board for Coordination. Did they recommend a HR focus demanding greater equality?

(h) The members of the High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability recommended a

sustainable path to enhance human well-being, further global justice, strengthen

gender equity and preserve the Earth’s life-support systems for future generations. If I am not wrong, they did recommend a HR focus demanding greater equality, no? Was their recommendation heeded by the HLPEP?

  1. Throughout 2014, Member States exchanged views and consolidated their ideas

through the work of existing UN development entities. ECOSOC and its functional and

regional commissions, committees and expert bodies have identified the potential


elements of the post-2015 review and monitoring framework, and explored how to adapt

the UN development system and its operational activities to respond to changes in the

development landscape. I am sure they did recommend a HR focus demanding greater equality? Was their recommendation heeded by the HLPEP? The Development Cooperation Forum sorry, who are these? provided useful policy space for stakeholders to discuss the implications of a unified and universal agenda, the global partnership, modalities for more effective review and monitoring, and concrete actions by Southern development cooperation partners on common challenges. did they recommend a HR focus demanding greater equality? Was their recommendation heeded by the HLPEP? The High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) has, from its inaugural session in 2013, turned its attention to the post-2015 agenda, with leaders calling for a coherent approach and noting the important role the Forum can play in reviewing and monitoring. did they recommend a HR focus demanding greater equality? Was their recommendation heeded by the HLPEP?

  1. Now, at the end of 2014, we positively note the completion of the

intergovernmental processes established by the Rio + 20 Conference.

  1. In a series of structured dialogues on technology in the General Assemblyiv,

possible arrangements were considered for a facilitation mechanism to promote the

development, transfer, and dissemination of clean and environmentally sound

technologies. As said, this is only part of the solution.

  1. The Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development

Financing delivered its report on options for an effective sustainable development

financing strategy in August 2014.v The Committee proposed a basket of more than 100

options for policy makers, together with recommendations for a global partnership that

encompasses key aspects of aid, trade, debt, taxation, and financial market stability. It

recommended individual, country-owned financing strategies, rooted in enabling national

policy environments, and complemented by a reformed international enabling

environment enabling meaning exactly what?. It recognized that all sources of financing would need to be employed, public and private, national and international. did they recommend a HR focus demanding greater equality? Was their recommendation heeded by the HLPEP?

  1. Throughout 2014, the President of the General Assembly convened a series of

valuable gatherings. These included three high-level events on the contributions of

women, youth, and civil society, on human rights and the rule of law, and on the

contributions of North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation, and Information

and Communications Technology (ICT) for development. Finally, HR are explicitly mentioned… did these gatherings recommend a HR focus demanding greater equality? Was their recommendation heeded by the HLPEP? Three thematic debates were held on the role of partnerships, on ensuring stable and peaceful societies, and on water,


sanitation and sustainable energy. These were followed by a Dialogue on Accountability

in the General Assembly and in each region under the auspices of the respective UN

Regional Commission. In September of 2014, the President convened a High-Level

Stocktaking Event on the Post-2015 Development did it recommend a HR focus demanding greater equality? Was their recommendation heeded by the HLPEP?

  1. Importantly, the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals

delivered the results of its historic deliberations in July 2014, providing a narrative

grounded in the Rio+20 outcome document and emphasizing poverty eradication not disparity reduction?, environmental sustainability, inclusive growth, equality and a people-centred agenda for sustainable development. Not mentioning HR?

  1. Following more than a year of inclusive and intensive consultative deliberations,

the Open Working Group proposed 17 specific goals with 169 associated targetsvii, which it described as “action-oriented, global in nature, and universally applicable”, taking into account different national realities, capacities and levels of development. It sought to combine aspirational global targets with country-specific targets to be set nationally. None of the 17 specific goals even mentions fulfilling human rights!

  1. In addition to reinforcing the commitment to the unfinished MDGs, the SDGs

break new ground with goals on inequalities, economic growth, decent jobs, cities and

human settlements, industrialization, energy, climate change, sustainable consumption

and production, peace, justice and institutions. The environmental dimension of the

agenda is articulated across the whole agenda. The SDGs are underpinned with a goal on

global partnerships for the means of implementation. Partnerships among who? On equal footing with public interest civil society and social movements? With conflicted TNCs?

  1. Mechanisms to review the implementation of goals will be needed, and the

availability of and access to data would/will need to be improved, including the disaggregation of information by gender, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability, geographic location, and other characteristics relevant to national contexts. With a special role for public interest civil society to play the role of watchdogs.

  1. Finally, the recent report of my Independent Expert Advisory Group on the

Data Revolution for Sustainable Development called for the closing of key data gaps,

between developed and developing countries, gaps between information-rich and information poor people, and between the private and public sectors. It underscored the importance of increasing access to quality data, remedying inequalities in the areas of access to information, data literacy, promoting civic space and enhancing the sharing of data and


information. It also called for the strengthening of national institutions to provide

capacities for statistics and the interface with new technologies. Do not get carried away by thinking that better data will twist the will of decision-makers. They have their agenda and it is political. We have tons of data to do justice and demand equality that go unused.

2.1 3? Shared ambitions for a shared future

  1. Across all of these contributions and milestones, a common understanding has

emerged that there must be a universal agenda. Also human rights-based? Humankind faces the same global challenges; today’s problems transcend borders; even in the richest countries, there (can be) is destitution and exclusion. Universality implies that all countries will need to change, each with its own approach, but each with a sense of the global common good. Universality is the core attribute of human rights and intergenerational justice if so, why are HR not at the center of the agenda?? This report cannot be ambiguous about this; and many of us in civil society contend it is. It compels us to think in terms of shared responsibilities for a shared future. It demands policy coherence. Not a goal in itself unless we specify coherence for/about what. For top-down interventions? No.

Universality embodies a new global partnership for sustainable development in the spirit


  1. All voices have called for a people-centred and planet-sensitive agenda to

ensure human dignity as the core of human rights (why not calling a spade a spade? Are we afraid of risking no consensus from the rich countries if we do?, equality, environmental stewardship, healthy economies meaning what?, freedom from want and fear …HR concepts, and a renewed global partnership among whom? for sustainable development. Tackling climate change and fostering sustainable, HR-based development agendas are two mutually

reinforcing sides of the same coin. To achieve these ends, all have called for a

transformational and universal post-2015 agenda, buttressed by science and evidence,

and built on the principles of human rights and the rule of law, equality and sustainability. Here it is…

  1. All contributions underlined that we should continue the march of the MDGs. But they have also stressed that Member States will need to fill key sustainable

development gaps left by the MDGs, such as the multi-dimensional aspects of poverty,

decent work for young people, social protection and labour rights for all. And development as a human right! They have asked for inclusive, sustainable cities, infrastructure and industrialization. They have called for strengthening effective, accountable, participatory and inclusive governance; for free expression, information, and association; for fair justice systems; and for peaceful societies and personal security for all. Some did ask for using the HR framework as a basis, no?

  1. All voices voices of whom exactly? have demanded that we leave no one behind, ensuring equality, nondiscrimination, equity and inclusion at all levels. We must pay special attention to the

people, groups and countries most in need. This is the century of women: we will not


realize our full potential if half of humanity continues to be held back. We also need to

include (the) people rendered poor by an unfair system, children, adolescents, youth, and the aged, as well as those rendered unemployed, rural populations, those made slum dwellers, persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, migrants, those made refugees and displaced persons, (vulnerable) groups rendered vulnerable and minorities. These also include

those affected by climate change, those living in LDCs, landlocked countries, small island developing states, middle-income countries, conflict countries or in areas under

occupation, in places struck by complex medical and humanitarian emergencies or in

situations affected by terrorism. And they have called for an end to all forms of gender

inequality, gender-based discrimination, and violence against women, children and young

boys and girls.

  1. The public discourse has underscored the call for the urgent need to recognize

and address the understandable trust deficit between governments, institutions and the people. Providing an enabling environment meaning what? to build inclusive and peaceful societies, ensure social cohesion understood as… and respect for human rights and the rule of law will require rebuilding institutions at the country level to ensure that the gains from peace are not reversed.

  1. All want action to address climate change, to accelerate the reduction of

greenhouse gas emissions, and to keep the rise in global average temperature below 2

degrees Celsius on the basis of equity for present and future generations and in

accordance with common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.

All also want to preserve our oceans, marine resources, terrestrial ecosystems and


  1. All call for meaningful transformations of our economies. They call for

making our patterns of growth more inclusive, redistributive, sustained and sustainable. People want decent jobs, social protection, robust small farmers’ agricultural systems and rural prosperity, sustainable human rights cities, inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and resilient infrastructure and sustainable energy for all. These transformations will also help tackle climate change. We have also (heard) received strong calls to reform international trade making it fair, ensure effective regulation of markets, TNCs and financial actors, and to take vigorous action to fight corruption, curb illicit

financial flows, combat money laundering and tax evasion, and recover stolen and hidden



  1. All inputs have underscored the need to integrate economic, social and

environmental dimensions across the new agenda. All meaning what they underscore? To make this happen, they want norm-based policy coherence at all levels exactly meaning what?, corresponding reform of global governance mechanisms I am sure not all agreeing on what reform…and that is the key, and a renewed effective global partnership among whom? And who left out? for sustainable development. These, they tell us and mean it?, should be based on solidarity, cooperation, mutual accountability, and the participation of governments as duty bearers and (all stakeholders…arrrg!) the respective claim holders. (The document has to consistently use HR terminology!)

  1. All have asked for a rigorous and participatory review and monitoring

framework to hold governments, businesses, and international organizations accountable

to the people for results, and to ensure that no harm is done to the planet. Really? all? Accountability? And they have called for a data revolution? to make information and data more available, more accessible, and more broadly disaggregated, as well as for measurable goals and targets, and a participatory mechanism …also to be made measurable for accountability purposes to review implementation at the national, regional, and global levels.


  1. Framing the New Agenda


3.1 Setting the stage

  1. At this moment, a truly universal and transformational course is being set. From

the 2010 Summit on the MDGs, to Rio+20, and the outcome of the Open Working

Group,viii a remarkably consistent vision has emerged. But still short on a HR vision.

  1. Because human dignity why not saying HR directly? and planetary sustainability cannot be reduced to a simple formula, because their constituent elements are so interdependent, and because sustainable development is a complex phenomenon, the proposal by the Open Working Group of such a far-reaching set of goals and targets is to be welcomed as a remarkable step forward in the international community’s quest for effective solutions to an increasingly complex global agenda. Is the ‘international community’ heavily skewed towards ‘development experts’? What about claim holders worldwide, were they sufficiently incorporated in the quest?
  2. As Secretary-General of the United Nations, I therefore welcome the outcome

produced by the Open Working Group (Table 1). I congratulate the leadership and all

who participated in its ground-breaking work. I take positive note of the decision of the

General Assembly that the proposal of the Group be the main basis for the post-2015

intergovernmental process. Sir, are you not a bit disappointed that the agenda is not sufficiently HR—centered?

  1. In the coming months, the Member States of the United Nations will negotiate

the final parameters of the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda. That Agenda

should include a compelling and principled narrative including HR principles?, building on the outcomes of the major global conferences , including the Millennium Summit, the 2005 Summit Outcome, the 2010 Summit on the MDGs, the outcome of Rio+20, and the voices of the people as conveyed in the post-2015 process. ‘the voices of the people’ demanding a HR focus do not seem to have been heeded… The Agenda should also call for full consistency with current political commitments and existing obligations under international law specifically including HR law. It should include concrete goals together with measurable and achievable targets. Do the former and the latter really guarantee sustainable development? Should we not be asking member states to prepare progressive long term realization of HR plans with annual benchmarks for processes that simply have to be set in motion to achieve the long term realization? This this being what? should demonstrate the important interrelationship between the goals and targets. Importantly, it must respond to the capacity challenges of countries with varying capabilities and weaker


institutions to do what?. Countries must not be overly burdened by an agenda that creates additional challenges rather than alleviate burdens. The Agenda will require serious commitments for financing and other means of implementation, including those to be agreed in Addis Ababa in July 2015 and Paris in December 2015 how much will be for the fulfillment of HR if this synthesis report is weak on this?. And it should include strong, inclusive

public mechanisms at all levels for reporting, monitoring progress, learning lessons, and

ensuring mutual accountability.

Table 1. Sustainable development goals omitted (Note that NONE of the 17 goals mentions human rights!).

  1. Success will equally depend on the power of the new agenda to inspire and

mobilize claim holders and duty bearers as essential actors, new partnerships, key constituencies, and the broader global citizenry to be empowered and mobilized to demand changes. For this, we will need an agenda that resonates? with the experiences and (needs) rights!! of people as claim holders, that can be understood, (and) embraced and applied. The agenda and goals (should) must also be received at the country level in a way that (would) ensures a (transition of) quantum leap from the MDGs to the broader and more transformative HR-based and sustainable development agenda and effectively become

an integral part of national and regional visions and progressive realization plans.

  1. In this regard, we must recall and take note of the mandate given to the General

Assembly by the member states at the Rio+20 Conference, where they declared that the

“SDGs should be action-oriented, concise and easy to communicate, limited in number,


aspirational, global in nature and universally applicable to all countries while taking into

account different national realities, capacities and levels of development and respecting

national policies and priorities” (Paragraph 247).

  1. Member States have agreed that the agenda laid out by the Open Working

Group is the main basis for the Post-2015 intergovernmental process. Have they already? We now have the opportunity to frame the goals and targets in a way that reflects the ambition of a universal and transformative agenda. I note, in particular, the possibility to maintain the 17 goals and rearrange them in a focused and concise manner that enables the necessary global awareness and implementation at the country level. But the human rights focus is missing in 17 the 1goals…

3.2 A transformational approach

  1. I wish to propose an integrated set of six essential elements, that taken together,

will aim to facilitate the deliberations of Member States ahead of the special Summit on

sustainable development in September 2015, and enable them to arrive at the concise and

aspirational agenda mandated by the Rio + 20 Conference.

  1. The essential elements underscore the urgency of a universal call to commit to a

set of principles that include human rights’ and that, applied together, can bring about a truly universal transformation of sustainable development. Thus, as we implement the new agenda, we must:

  • commit to a universal human rights-based! approach, and with solutions that address all countries and all groups;
  • integrate HR and sustainability in all activities, mindful of economic, environmental and

social impacts;

  • address and resolve inequalities in all areas, agreeing that no goal or target be considered met unless met for all social, economic and otherwise marginalized groups;
  • ensure that all actions respect, protect, fulfill and advance human rights, in full coherence with international (standards) HR law;
  • address the natural and penalize the man-made drivers of climate change and its consequences;
  • base our analysis in credible data and evidence, enhancing data capacity, availability,

disaggregation, literacy and sharing;

  • expand our global partnership among whom? TNCs included? for means of implementation to maximum effect, and full participation of who? Claim holders?, including multi-stakeholder, issue-based coalitions most in civil society object these coalitions since they more often than not have TNCs involved.; and


  • anchor the new compact a compact has not been defined yet in this report in a renewed commitment to international solidarity, commensurate with the ability of each country to contribute.

3.3. Six essential elements for delivering on the SDGs

  1. The following six essential elements should help frame and reinforce the HR-based, universal, integrated and transformative nature of a sustainable development agenda and ensure that the ambition or commitment? expressed by Member States in the outcome of the Open Working Group translates, communicates and is delivered at the country level (Figure 1). omitted

Figure 1. Six essential elements for delivering the SDGs

  1. Eradicating poverty through deliberate actions towards disparity reduction by 2030 is the overarching objective of the HR-based, sustainable development agenda. We live in a world of plenty, and in a moment of enormous scientific promise and social activism resurgence. And yet, for hundreds and hundreds of millions across the globe, this

is also an age of gnawing? deprivation. The defining challenge of our time is to close the

gap between our determination to ensure a life of dignity for all with full respect of HR on the one hand, and the reality of persisting processes that perpetuate poverty and deepen inequality on the other.

  1. While we have made important progress in recent years, addressing gender

inequality and realizing women’s rights remains a key challenge in all regions of the


world. It should by now be recognized that no society can reach its full potential if whole

segments of that society, especially young people, are excluded from participating in,

contributing to, and benefiting from development. Other dimensions of inequality such as? Neoliberal policies of globalization?… continue to persist, and in some many? cases have worsened. Income inequality specifically is one of the most visible aspects of the broader and more complex issue of neoliberalism, one that among other, entails inequality of opportunity. This is a universal challenge that the whole world must address.

The agenda must accommodate not only the voices of women, youth and minorities, but also their influence and seek the prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples, remove obstacles to and promote full participation by persons with disabilities, older persons, adolescents and youth, and empower people rendered poor by an unfair system. It

must not exclude migrants, refugees, displaced persons, (or) and persons affected by conflict and occupation.

  1. For reasons now well known, millions of people, especially women and children, have been left behind in the unfinished work of the MDGs. We must ensure women, youth and children have access to the full range of quality health services. We must ensure zero tolerance of violence against or exploitation of women and girls. Women and girls must have equal access to financial services, and the right to own land and other assets. All children and adolescents have a right to education and must have a safe environment in which to learn. Human development is (also) has the respect of human rights at its very core.
  2. The agenda must address universal health-care coverage publicly financed by taxes assuring affordable access to all without discrimination (affordability); end preventable maternal, new-born and child deaths and malnutrition, as well as preventable ill-health in all ages; ensure the availability of essential medicines to all; fully realize women’s reproductive health and

rights; ensure fully protective immunization coverage; (eradicate) bring malaria under control and realize the vision of a future (free of) where AIDS and tuberculosis cease to be public health problems; reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases including its nutrition- determined causes and including mental illness, nervous system injuries, road accidents, as well as promote healthy behaviours, including those related to water, sanitation and hygiene.

  1. Today, more than ever, the realities of 1.8 billion youth and adolescents represent a dynamic, informed, and globally connected engine for change. Integrating their needs, rights (to choice) and their voices and influence in the new agenda, (will be) is a key factor for success. How much have they already been included in the preparation of the post 2015 agenda? It is essential that young people receive relevant skills and high-quality education


and life-long learning, from early childhood development to post-primary schooling,

including life skills and vocational education and training, as well as science, sports and

culture. Teachers must be given the means and salaries to deliver learning and knowledge in response to a safe global workplace, driven by technology. ??

  1. Economic growth (should) must lead to shared prosperity. As such, the strength of an

economy must be measured by the degree to which it meets the needs of people in the lower quintiles of income, and on how sustainably and equitably it does so. We need inclusive growth with proven redistribution of wealth, built on decent, fairly paid jobs,

livelihoods and rising real incomes for those in the lower income strata (all and) measured in ways that go beyond GDP and account for human well-being, sustainability and marked greater equity. Ensuring that all people, including women, persons with disabilities, youth, aged, minorities and migrants have decent fairly paid employment, social protection, and access to financial services, will be a hallmark of (our) any economic success.

  1. Innovation and investments in sustainable and resilient infrastructure,

settlements, industrialization, small and medium enterprises, energy and technology can

both generate fairly paid employment, and remedy and prevent negative environmental trends. An enabled?, properly regulated, responsible and still reasonable profitable private sector is critical for employment, fair living wages, growth, and revenues for public programmes. Transforming business models is indispensable for creating shared value that is vital for growing inclusive, redistributive and sustainable economies.

  1. The world’s richness of natural resources also provides a formidable economic

opportunity, if it is translated not only into GDP growth but into shared, redistributed prosperity. Sustainable approaches to landscape management (including agriculture and forests), industrialization (including small manufacturing and productive capacities), access to renewable energy and water and sanitation, are key drivers of sustainable production and consumption, job creation, as well as sustainable, redistributive and equitable growth. They who? can indeed drive sustainable management of natural resources and tackle climate change.

  1. To respect and protect our planetary boundaries we need to equitably address climate

change, halt worrisome biodiversity loss, and address desertification and unsustainable land use. We


must protect wildlife, safeguard forests and mountains, as well as our water sources and reduce disaster risk and build resiliencies. We must protect our oceans, seas, rivers and atmosphere as our global (heritage) common goods, and achieve climate justice defined how?. We must promote sustainable small-scale agro-ecological agriculture, artisanal fisheries

and local food systems; foster sustainable management of water resources, and of waste and chemicals; foster renewable and more efficient energy; decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, advance sustainable industrialisation and resilient

infrastructures; ensure sustainable production and responsible consumption in rich countries; and achieve sustainable management of marine and terrestrial ecosystems and land use with an emphasis of stopping the practice of land grabbing.

  1. Sustainable development is at risk as evidence proves that warming of the

climate system is now undeniable and human activities are its primary cause. We must

limit global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius if we are to avoid the worst

effects of climate change. Carbon dioxide is the largest contributor to human-induced

climate change. Fossil fuels usage and deforestation are its two main sources. Increasing

warming will make severe, pervasive, and irreversible impacts more likely. The longer

we wait to take action towards sustainable production and responsible consumption, the more it will cost to solve the problem and the greater the technological challenges will be. Adaptation can reduce some risks and impact of climate change. Most urgently, we simply must adopt a meaningful, severe enough universal climate agreement by the end of 2015.

  1. Effective, truly democratic governance for sustainable development demands that public

institutions in all countries and at all levels be inclusive, participatory, and accountable to

the people as monitored by their living organizations. Laws and institutions must protect human rights and fundamental freedoms and there is a long way ahead to achieve this. All people must be free from fear and violence, without discrimination. We also (know that) must strive for participatory democracy since free, safe, and peaceful societies are both enablers and outcomes of development.

  1. Access to truly fair justice systems, accountable institutions of democratic

governance, measures to combat corruption and curb illicit financial flows, and

safeguards to protect personal security are integral to sustainable, redistributive development. (An enabling environment under) The rule of law must be secured for the free, active and meaningful engagement of civil society and advocates reflecting the voices and influence of women,


minorities, LGBT groups, indigenous peoples, youth, adolescents and older persons.

Press freedom and access to information, freedom of expression, assembly and

association are (enablers) part and parcel of sustainable development. The practice of child labor, early and forced marriage must be ended everywhere. The rule of law must (be strengthened) prevail at the national and international level, so as to secure justice for all.

  1. We need to rebuild and reintegrate societies (better) after crises and conflicts. We

must address state fragility, support internally displaced persons and contribute to

resilience of such people and communities. Reconciliation, peace building and state-building are (critical for) to be fostered in countries to overcome fragility and develop cohesive societies, and strong democratic institutions. These (investments) interventions are essential to retaining the gains of development and avoiding reversals in the future.

  1. A revitalized global partnership among whom? TNCs included? for sustainable development must be built on the foundations agreed in the Millennium Declaration and in Monterrey and Johannesburg. It must be effective in mobilizing the means and in creating the (environment) conditions to implement our agenda. Mobilizing the support of whom? to implement the ambitious new agenda will require political will and action on all fronts: domestic and international, public and private (free of conflicts of interest), through aid and trade respectful of human rights, private sector regulation, taxation and greater public investment.
  2. Implementation is not just about quantity. It is also about doing things together with whom?, uniting around the problem. Inclusive partnerships among who? must be a key feature of implementation, at all levels: global, regional, national and local. We know the extent to which this may be transformative, but also know some of the shortcomings. The sustainable development goals provide a platform for aligning the action of private actors and public policies. Transformative partnerships are built upon principles and values including no conflicts of interest, a shared vision, and shared goals arrived at by only placing people and planet at the center. They include the participation of all relevant claim holders and duty bearers including those duty bearers bound by extraterritorial obligations (stakeholders arrgg!). Mutual accountability is at the center, but must be monitored particularly by public interest civil society acting as watchdogs. This means principled and responsible public-private-people partnerships. Absolutely NOT! Very few are principled and responsible. Look at the reality.

3.4. Integrating the six essential elements

  1. Sustainable development must be an integrated agenda for economic,

environmental, political and social solutions. Its strength lies in the interweaving of (its) these


dimensions. Although certainly not automatically, this integration provides the basis for reinforcing human rights, equality and sustainability and for economic models that eventually benefit people and the environment; for environmental solutions that eventually contribute to progress, as well as for social and political approaches that add to (economic dynamism) wealth redistribution and allow for the preservation and sustainable use of the environmental common;

. Responding to all goals as a cohesive and integrated whole (all necessary, but not sufficient) will be critical to ensuring the transformations needed at scale.

  1. The agenda itself mirrors the broader international human rights framework No, so far it does NOT, including elements of economic, social, cultural, civil, and political rights, as well as the right to development. I cannot see this clearly spelled out. I see it more as a window dressing. My comments highlight this. Specific targets are set for disadvantaged groups. But this is not all. Indicators will need to be broadly disaggregated across all goals and targets. …only a start. What do you do with them then?
  2. The essential elements of what? are further integrated by the application of the principle of universality. In addressing them which? to all countries and all people we take account of environmental, economic, and social political? interdependence, while also recognizing the realities of differentiated national needs, capacities, restrictions and constraints.
  3. Finally, the new framework provides a much-needed opportunity to integrate the

broader United Nations agenda, with its inextricably linked and mutually interdependent

peace and security, development, and human rights objectives. The latter not fully, I contend.

  1. All of this will have important implications for the way that all partners and opponents pursue sustainable development, requiring transformations in approaches to leadership, key policies and policy coherence, strategies, and terms of possible collaboration. It will also have a beneficial unifying effect on the organization of work within the UN system at the global, regional and country levels.


  1. Mobilizing the Means to Implement Our Agenda


4.1 Financing our future

  1. Sustainable development is a complex challenge, with urgent requirements

which have resulted in enormous financing needs. The means to finance the goals agreed

will not be found in one solution, nor borne by one set of actors. All financing streams

need to be optimized? towards sustainable development, and coordinated for the greatest

impact on people’s rights. An integrated development agenda demands an equally synergistic financial framework. Governments (should) must work to better align the financing frameworks that developed out of two major strands of development debates – the Monterrey and the Rio processes. In addition, Government (should) must also be mindful of the need for coherence and alignment with climate finance?.

  1. The global conversation/negotiations on sustainable development finance is progressing. The Open Working Group has proposed a number of targets on means of implementation. The Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing presented policy options, organized around different financing streams: domestic public, domestic private, international public, international private and blended finance. These streams address the public, private, national and international facets of the financing challenge to raise new and additional resources, reallocate existing ones and create a supportive enabling environment always weeding out partners with conflicts of interest. The establishment of new institutions of South-South Cooperation, such as the BRICS Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, present new opportunities to finance sustainable development investments. ix
  2. I welcome the policy options presented by the Committee and encourage

countries to (scale up ambition) de-facto commit and enhance specificity to meet the demands of the new agenda. To these ends, as Member States prepare for Addis Ababa, it will fall to them to set an agreed and ambitious course for sustainable development financing beyond 2015.


Figure 1. omitted

Flows of funds from international and national financing sources to sustainable development.

  1. All public funds must positively impact those made poorest and most vulnerable in all societies. Official Development Assistance (ODA) and other international public funds

will continue to play a central and catalytic role, particularly in vulnerable countries, as

will a strategic much more HR-based approach and systematic progress in funds utilization. Member States of the United Nations (should) must honour their commitments in full and in a timely manner. ODA must both respond to the unfinished business of the MDGs and address human rights in the transition to the new sustainable, redistributive development agenda. In the current debate on (modernizing?) reforming ODA, it is necessary to underscore the importance of more effective and better targeted ODA funding that leverages other resources and becomes HR-based. This must include more focus on Least Developed


Countries, Land-locked Developing Countries, Small Islands Developing States, and

countries in vulnerable situations.

  1. The political responsibility for raising the domestic public revenues necessary for the core economic and social functions – for example to ensure a social protection floor and to remedy ongoing human rights violations and exclusion – rests primarily with each national government. National laws and policies are to dedicate adequate and timely resources to these purposes, while public institutions are to act strictly in the public interest. This includes environmentally and socially sound policies, the promotion, protection and fulfillment of human rights, strong democratic institutions and the rule of law.

However, domestic efforts need to be complemented by a human rights supportive international environment.

  1. Urgent action is needed to mobilize, redirect, and unlock the transformative

power of trillions of dollars of untaxed private resources to deliver on sustainable development objectives. The enforcement of a Tobin tax, as well as long-term investments, including fairly negotiated foreign direct investment (FDI), are needed in critical sectors, especially in developing countries. These include sustainable energy, infrastructure and transport, as well as information and communications technologies.

The public sector will need to set a clear direction. Review and monitoring frameworks,

regulations and incentive structures that enable such investments must be retooled to

attract responsible, accountable investments that reinforce sustainable development. National oversight mechanisms such as supreme and public interest civil society audit institutions and oversight functions by legislatures (should) must be strengthened for this.

  1. Efforts to increase the HR focus and the effectiveness of development cooperation need to be enhanced based on human rights principles and country ownership, with a results focus, inclusive partnerships on an equal footing, transparency and accountability.
  2. Long-term decarbonization of our economies; access to energy, water and food;

and a sustainable agriculture based of food sovereignty, sustainable industrial models, rational infrastructure and transport will ultimately have to be achieved through the same investments. (at the project level). In addition, it will be important to consider that many of the investments to achieve the SDGs will take place at the sub-national level and led by local authorities.


  1. In addition, we must move, seriously and expeditiously, to correct the inequities

that have long plagued the international system, to the disadvantage of developing

countries. We need a more equitable and fair multilateral trading system that is critical of existing and upcoming free trade agreements, move towards the conclusion of a more equitable Doha round, and better access to appropriate technology, to essential medicines, and to long-term investments for developing countries. We need a much fairer representation of emerging and developing countries in international financial and economic decision-making institutions, as well as in the Security Council, better regulation and more stability in the international financial and monetary systems, and sustainable debt forgiveness solutions. We must continue to remedy the policy incoherence between current modes of

international governance in matters of human rights, equality, trade, finance, and investment on the one hand, and our norms and standards for labour, the environment, and sustainability on the other.

  1. As preparations for the Third International Conference on Financing for

Development in Addis Ababa get underway, there are high expectations for concrete

outcomes that (would) will finance sustainable development and set the stage for what is hoped a successful outcome of the COP21 in Paris.

  1. I urge Member States to (consider) commit and agree in particular to the following:
  2. All developed countries (should) to meet the 0.7% target and (agree) commit to concrete timetables to meet ODA commitments, including the Istanbul commitments to LDCs of 0.15% of GNI by 2015. It is important to ensure that the proportion of ODA going to LDCs does not decline in real terms, but continues to increase, be human rights-based, be better targeted, more efficient, more transparent, and that leverages additional resources. (Smooth) Transition of countries graduating from least developed country status is vital to ensure that these countries are eased onto a sustainable development path without any disruption to their development plans, programmes and projects. Provisions are to (should) be made to increase funding to facilitate capacities to implement progressive tax reforms and repealing regressive taxes, thus improving domestic resource mobilization. All other international commitments also (need to) must be met.
  3. Any effort to (modernize) reform ODA and measures of development finance (should) must now be considered in an open, equal and transparent forum with (the widest possible) participation of donor and recipient countries and other relevant (stakeholders arrgg!) claim holders and duty bearers.


  1. Levels of concessionality?? should take into account different development

stages, circumstances and multiple dimensions of poverty, wealth maldistribution and the particular type of investment to be made.

  1. All countries are (encouraged) to adopt their own national sustainable

development financing strategies that take account of all financing flows, based on

continuing dialogue among relevant government entities and (other stakeholders) genuine representatives of claim holders in different areas. Such strategies (should) must review and strengthen the domestic policy, the legal and institutional environment and the policy coherence for a sustainable, redistributive development focused on HR. All financing flows,

including climate finance, (should) must build stronger country ownership and lead to greater use of country strategies and systems geared to the fulfillment of HR. In order to be HR-based and effective, the component parts of sustainable development financing strategies must have associated investible pipelines??. National visions and plans and annual budgets and medium-term expenditure frameworks (should) are to be aligned with national sustainable, redistributive development strategies.

  1. Fiscal and macro-economic policies must include low carbon solutions for

sustainable development and the need to invest in adaptation and resilience. Carbon

pricing, through different approaches, (should) must be a key consideration. Harmful fossil fuel subsidies, both direct and indirect, (should) must be phased out. Agricultural export subsidies (should) must be removed.

  1. Stern regulatory frameworks, incentives and risk-return profiles that enable

private investments and business models, as well as public procurement policies, must be

aligned with the SDGs.

  1. All countries (should) must consider adopting policies to encourage responsible, conflict of interest-free and accountable investment of private finance in sustainable development, and requiring companies to undertake mandatory Economic Environment Social and Governance (EESG)? reporting, always accompanied with regulatory changes that ensure that investor incentives are aligned with sustainable development goals. Short transition periods and longer term technical support (would) will be needed to this effect, especially for small and medium enterprises.


  1. We (should) must work to ensure investment policies that are in line with the UN’s

Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, core labour standards of the ILO,

and United Nations environmental standards. It (should) must also adequately balance investor preferences with the needs of (the people) claim holders in countries in which they operate.

  1. Policies are needed to stimulate and support responsible entrepreneurship and to increase access to finance for small and medium-sized enterprises, including through the use of development banks and other financial intermediaries.
  2. Countries (should) must strive to provide universal access to financial services,

emphasizing inclusive access across income, gender, geography, age, and other groups.

Specific barriers to women’s access to finance (should) must be eliminated. They should expand financial literacy and establish strong consumer protection agencies.

  1. Blended financing platforms? (could) have a great potential, particularly where

there is a benefit to the public sector. Where they are considered, however, it is important

to ensure that these arrangements are subject to safeguards to verify that they contribute

to sustainable, redistributive development. They must not replace or compromise state responsibilities for delivering on social and human rights needs. Such policies also need to ensure fair returns to the public, while incorporating human rights, social, environmental, labour, and gender equality considerations. In addition, risk (should) has to be managed through diversification and the use of multiple simultaneous projects, allowing for gains in some projects to offset losses in others.??

  1. Member States may wish or not to call on the International Financial Institutions to

consider establishing a process to examine the role, scale and functioning of multilateral

and regional development finance institutions. This, with the explicit purpose to make them more responsive to a sustainable, redistributive development agenda.

  1. While the additional commitments which have been made for climate finance

(should) must be honoured, the use of these and other financing flows (should) must not lead to fragmentation, but rather to coherence and strengthened cross-linkages within the pillars of sustainable development. An expert technical group (should) can be tasked with developing


and presenting to Member States a coherent framework that accounts for climate

finance and a HR-based ODA.

  1. South-South cooperation and the significant efforts of solidarity by emerging

economies is encouraging. More countries will need to commit to increasing their

contribution to international public financing and set targets and timelines to do so.

In turn, South-South technical assistance and the sharing of experiences through

regional fora should be promoted.

  1. I also strongly encourage countries to consider using innovative ways to raise

additional resources to fund sustainable development at scale, drawing from a number

of options, including, inter alia, various tax (e.g., financial transaction taxes, carbon tax,

airline ticket levies) and non-tax (e.g., emission allowances) mechanisms.

  1. We must strengthen international coordination and regulation of macroeconomic policies of major economies and the management of global liquidity, and consider more

systematic issuance of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) for continued assistance, and

countercyclical macroeconomic management without unreasonable conditionalities.

  1. We must vigorously implement comprehensive and adequate financial

regulations in all countries, as the risk of another global financial crisis has not been

sufficiently reduced. However, the design of regulations needs to take into account their

impact on financial inclusion of whom? and incentives for investment in sustainable development.

  1. Effectively addressing illicit financial flows is urgent. We need more vigorous

implementation of the UN Convention against Corruption, as well as measures to

overcome impediments to the return of stolen assets. Member States (should) are to consider measures to ensure information exchange, judicial cooperation and the establishment of an intergovernmental committee on tax cooperation, under the auspices of the United Nations.

  1. Let us also enhance international efforts to strengthen arrangements for

transparent, orderly and participatory sovereign debt forgiveness and restructuring. As an


immediate step, let us bring together relevant authorities and other stakeholders (here YES; lenders do hold a stake…) to develop an informal forum on sovereign debt, while continuing ongoing discussions.

  1. Efforts (should) must be intensified to reduce costs on the transfer of remittances, in

a manner fully respecting the rights of migrants. I welcome the commitment of G20

countries to reduce the global average cost of transferring remittances to five per cent. But more can certainly be done.

4.2 Technology, Science and Innovation for a Sustainable Future

  1. We live in a period of unprecedented technological innovation and change.

New technologies are unlocking possibilities for sustainable development. The solutions

that they can generate, and the levels of access that they can enable, will be crucial to our

vision for the world beyond 2015, noting that technology will not fix all the development problems at hand.

  1. However, access to vital and environmentally sound technologies is today

unevenly spread, both within and between countries, with the poor and many developing

countries essentially locked out. Large amounts of public resources are allocated to

military budgets, while comparatively infinitely less is spent on research and development for public goods. Public funding too often subsidizes private sector research, at times leading to the public being priced out of the benefits through disadvantageous licensing and patents.

This also leads to frequent subsidies of innovations that are not aligned with promoting

sustainable consumption and production patterns. Furthermore, we have a long way to go

to reach the necessary level of participation of women and girls in science, technology

(including ICTs), engineering, and mathematics for the world in the 21st century.

  1. A sustainable future will require that we act now to phase out unsustainable

technologies, to invest in innovation and the development of clean and sound

technologies for sustainable development. We must ensure that they are fairly priced, and

broadly disseminated and fairly (absorbed) adopted, including to and by developing countries.

  1. Developing countries, and LDCs in particular, will need the support that will

allow them to benefit from enhanced access to these technologies, and, ultimately, to

expand domestic innovation and the development of their own technological solutions.


  1. Historically, significant technological advances have often resulted from multistakeholder, solution-driven initiatives meaning exactly what?. Achieving our sustainable, redistributive development goals will similarly require solution-driven technology partnerships among a variety of actors.
  2. We must establish effective modalities for multi-stakeholder cooperation among who? and sharing the costs for the Research, Development, Demonstration, and Diffusion

(RDD&D) for new technologies across all (stakeholders) countries including the public and non-conflicted private sector, public interest civil society, non-conflicted philanthropic, and other sectors, and inclusive of indigenous knowledge. We must move to prepare concrete initiatives, including those leveraging? technology, ready to launch at the commencement of the new agenda and set bold technological goals and resource mobilization targets. And we must facilitate access to the benefits of technology for all, including those in the poorest quintiles, while ensuring that the intellectual property regime (creates the right) does not dis-incentivate the technological innovation needed for sustainable, redistributive development. The urgency is particularly great in the case of low-carbon technologies as part of our efforts to mitigate human-induced climate change.

  1. There are a number of ongoing international initiatives aimed at accelerating the

development, diffusion and transfer of appropriate, especially environmentally sound,

technologies. Thus far, however, ambition has not matched the challenges at hand.

  1. Having taken into account the recommendations of the structured? dialogues of

the General Assembly, I propose to establish an online, global platform building on and

complementing existing initiatives, and with the participation of all relevant

(stakeholders) researchers, practitioners and users, in order to: (a) map existing technology transfer facilitation initiatives, needs and gaps, including in areas vital for sustainable redistributive development, including agriculture, cities and health; (b) enhance international cooperation and coordination in this field, addressing fragmentation and facilitating synergies, including within the UN system; and (c) promote networking, information sharing, knowledge transfer, and technical assistance, to advance the scaling up of clean technology initiatives.

  1. At the same time, I call upon all Member States to (a) urgently finalize

arrangements for the establishment of the proposed Technology Bank and the

Science, Technology, and Innovation Capacity Building Mechanism for LDCs, (b)

significantly scale up cooperation for the sharing of technologies, strengthening


knowledge and capacity building for usage, innovation capacities, including ICTs,

(c) make the adjustments necessary in the national and international policy

frameworks to facilitate these actions, (d) substantially progress in the development,

transfer, and dissemination of such technologies and knowledge to developing

countries on favorable, concessional, and preferential terms; (e) ensure that our

global intellectual property regimes and the application of TRIPS flexibilities are

fully consistent with and contribute to the goals of sustainable, redistributive development (which it is not now); (f) make specific commitments to shifting public resources out of harmful technologies, and into our sustainable development goals; and (g) promote the acceleration of the innovation-to-market-to-public good cycle of clean and environmentally sound technologies.

4.3 Investing in capacities for sustainable development

  1. To achieve our goals, countries need to integrate them in national progressive realization of human rights planning, in policy, budgets, law, and institutions. They will require integrated institutions that are effective and human resources equipped with the skills and capacities to deliver a sustainable, redistributive development. Governments, in consultation with all (stakeholders) claim holders in different sectors, will need to review national progressive realization strategies and policies to support progress towards the goals, consistent with national human rights priorities.
  2. These strategies will also have to be reviewed, and implemented at the local

level, with the full engagement of local authorities and local claim holder groups. In many instances, subnational and local authorities, including mayors, are already leading the charge for sustainable but not necessarily redistributive development. Institutional and human capacities will, in many cases, need to be strengthened for effective implementation and monitoring. This includes bolstering capacities to assess (needs) ongoing human rights violations, collect data and formulate responses across sectors and


  1. Executive institutions, parliaments and the judiciary will need the capacity to

perform their functions in this endeavour. Also institutions of public interest civil society must have the capacity and be given the space to perform their critical, independent role.

  1. Many developing countries will need support for capacity building. LDCs and post-conflict countries will have particularly urgent needs. For this, the United Nations is


working to revitalize and improve its role in capacity development.x Here too, (ambition) commitment will need to be scaled up, especially in the immediate term, not only by the United Nations, but by all partners in the process.

  1. As we seek to build capacities and to help the new agenda to take root,

volunteerism can be another powerful and cross-cutting means of implementation.

Volunteerism can help to expand and mobilize constituencies, and to engage people in

national planning and implementation for sustainable, redistributive development goals. And volunteer groups can help to localize the new agenda by providing new spaces of interaction between governments and (people) claim holders for concrete and scalable actions.

  1. Finally, we must also mobilize the power of culture in the transformative change

we seek. Our world is a remarkable mosaic of diverse cultures, informing our evolving

understanding of sustainable, redistributive development. We still have much to learn from cultures as we build the world we want. If we are to succeed, the new agenda cannot remain the exclusive domain of institutions and governments. It must be embraced by people acting as de-facto claim holders claiming their rights. Culture, in different aspects, will thus be an important force in supporting the new agenda.


  1. Delivering Our Agenda: a Shared Responsibility


5.1 Measuring the new dynamics

  1. Progress in sustainable, redistributive development will depend on (vibrant?) fair economies and inclusive, redistributive growth to keep pace with growing populations and longer life expectancies, and to generate employment with fair wages, and revenues for universal social programmes. But for making our economies inclusive, redistributive and sustainable, our understanding of economic performance, and our metrics for gauging it, must be broader, deeper and more precise.
  2. We need to reconsider how to account for sustainable production and responsible

consumption patterns in national accounting. Measures that do not distinguish between

socially and environmentally harmful activities and violated HR on the one hand, and social goods and fulfilled HR on the other, that do not account for equity and the distribution of costs and benefits, and do not include impacts on future generations, will not help us to navigate to a sustainable future.

  1. Member States have recognized the importance of building on existing

initiatives to develop measurements of progress on sustainable development that go

beyond gross domestic product but do not consider needed disparity reduction. Thus, work on developing alternative measures or progress, beyond GDP and towards fulfilling HR, must receive the dedicated attention of the United Nations, international financial institutions(!), the scientific community, and public institutions.

These metrics must be squarely focused on measuring social and HR progress, human wellbeing, justice, security, equality, wealth redistribution and sustainability. (Poverty) Disparity reduction measures (should) must reflect the multi-dimensional nature of poverty and the ongoing violation of HR. New measures of subjective wellbeing are

potentially important new tools for policy-making.

  1. To realize a sustainable, redistributive development agenda, we also need measurable targets and technically rigorous indicators. Plus the political determination to act on those indicators. Here too, Member States have advanced the process significantly, by proposing an array of targets, which bring a strong integrating effect, and

go a long way in defining the substance of what we need to achieve. How many on HR? However while many remain robust and responsive to the goals, others serve better the ongoing work of


developing indicators for the agenda meaning what?. A few of the targets are less ambitious than already agreed meaning what? and some better placed where commitments to policy change can be ensured.

  1. What is needed now is a technical and political review to ensure that each is framed in

language that is specific, measurable, achievable, and consistent with existing United

Nations human rights and other standards, covenants and agreements, while preserving the important political balance that they represent. To these ends, the (technical) experts of the United Nations System are available to review the targets, including on the means of implementation, and to compare and align the level of ambition and potential commitment represented by each to that of existing international targets, (commitments,) standards, and agreements thus strengthening the overall framework of the goals and making sure they advance HR. This will also contribute to coherence in the discussion on financing for development.

  1. In addition, where a proposed target is stated in measurable terms, but no

quantitative target has been specified, Member States may wish to seek the input of the

United Nations System, in consultation with its partners in academia and the

scientific community, on evidence for attaching specific global target levels.

  1. A set of applicable indicators will also need to be identified to allow us to

collect, compare, and analyse reliable data, to do so at the adequate level of

disaggregation, as of 2016. For this purpose, Member States may decide to task the

United Nations System, in consultation with other relevant experts and through a

multi-stakeholder? dialogue, to develop a draft set of indicators.

5.2. Lighting the way: the role of data in the new agenda

  1. We seek an evidence-based course for realizing a sustainable and redistributive development. For this, we must face the complex challenges this presents, and as a response to the varying country realities, capabilities and resistance attitudes.
  2. As indicated by my Independent Expert Advisory Group on the Data Revolution

for Sustainable Development, the world must acquire a new ‘data literacy’ in order to be

equipped with the tools, methodologies, capacities, and information necessary to shine a

light on the challenges of responding to the new agenda. Enhanced national and

international statistical capacities, rigorous indicators, reliable and timely data sets, new


and non-traditional data sources, and broader and systematic disaggregation to reveal

inequities and especially HR inequalities will all be fundamental to implementing it.

  1. In all of this, we must maximize our commitment to public transparency,

information sharing, participatory monitoring and open data, while never compromising

on the obligation to protect the right to privacy. And we must significantly scale up

support to countries and national statistical offices with critical needs for capacities to

produce, collect, disaggregate, analyse, share AND use data crucial to the new agenda.

  1. To these ends, I recommend that, under the auspices of the UN Statistical

Commission, a comprehensive programme of action on data be established. This

includes the building of a global consensus, applicable principles and standards for

data, a web of data innovation networks to advance innovation and analysis, a new

innovative financing stream to support national data capacities, and a global data

partnership to promote leadership and governance.

  1. Specifically, we will carry out in close cooperation with country experts an in depth

analysis of the existing data and information gaps and, thus, determine the scale

of the investments needed to establish a modern SDG monitoring system. We will

catalyze a multi-stakeholder Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data, to

mobilize and coordinate the actions required to make the data revolution serve sustainable, redistributive development, promoting initiatives such as the holding of inclusive ‘World Fora on Sustainable Development Data’. As said, collection of reliable data is, per-se, not a solution. We may end up chronicling the evolution of developments without changing them…

5.3. Gauging our progress: Monitoring, evaluation and reporting

  1. If we are to succeed, the new agenda must become part of the contract between

(people) claim holders, including the guarantee of public interest civil society, and responsible conflict-free business, donors and governments as responsible duty bearers nationally

and locally. Parliaments must be strengthened to deepen democracy and carry out their

constitutional mandates of oversight of the implementation of the agenda with a HR focus. All companies must pay their taxes, respect labour standards, human rights and workers rights in particular, and the be protective of the environment. Empowered public interest civil society actors, through action and advocacy, must rally to the cause, and contribute to a sustainable, redistributive, equitable and prosperous future.


  1. We must now embrace a culture of shared responsibility, one based on agreed

universal human rights norms, global commitments, shared rules and evidence, collective action, and benchmarking for the progressive realization of progress. The new paradigm of accountability that we seek is not one neither of North to South, nor South to North conditionalities, but rather one of all actors —governments, international institutions, private sector actors as duty bearers, and organizations of civil societies in all countries as claim holders. (to the people themselves). This is the real test of a people-centred,

planet-sensitive development.

  1. Such a model can only be built on national ownership, broad claim holder participation, and full transparency. To be effective, it must be aligned with the post-2015 agenda and its new goals centered on HR. To be efficient, it must be streamlined and employ existing mechanisms and processes. To be evidence-based, it must be grounded in the data revolution, and the indicators and data that emerge therefrom. To be truly universal, it must apply to all actors—in both the public and the private sectorsxi, at both the national and international levels. It must include opportunities for mutual review??, and mutual support at the regional and global levels.
  2. In recent months, United Nations consultations have emphasized the need for a

voluntary, state-led, participatory, evidence-based, and multi-tiered process to monitor


  1. Thus, a universal review process constructed on these principles should be

initiated at the national level, and should inform the national, regional, and global level

reviews. At all levels, review discussions should be public, participatory, broadly

accessible, and based on facts, data, scientific findings, and evidence-based evaluations.

The principal components (might) should include:

  1. A country-led, national component for accountability. In the overall

review process, this national segment, as that closest to the people as claim holders, (should) must be the most significant. It should be built on existing national and local

mechanisms and processes, with broad, (multi-stakeholder) claim holders/duty bearers participation, including national and local government, parliaments, public interest civil society, science, academia and conflict free business. It would establish progressive realization benchmarks, review the national policy framework with a HR lens, chart progress, learn lessons, consider solutions, follow-up,


and report AND act thereon. For this, a government report, a national (stakeholder) a civil society shadow report with contributions from national non-governmental actors, as well as a report compiling existing information and data from United Nations agencies and

international financial institutions, all based upon globally-harmonized formats, (would) will constitute the main written inputs on individual country progress or stagnation.

  1. A regional component for peer reviewing, tailored to regional and

sub-regional needs, and undertaken by existing mechanisms in a participatory,

(multi-stakeholder) process that includes claim holders representatives, to consider national reports, identify regional trends, obstacles, commonalities, best practices and lessons learned, and to generate solutions and mutual. (support and solutions). Regional reviews should incorporate and build on the experiences and successes of mechanisms such as

the Regional Economic Commissions, the Africa Peer Review Mechanism, the

Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development, the ECE Environmental

Performance Reviews, and the OECD/DAC Peer Reviews.

iii. A global component for knowledge sharing, as a forum for

participatory (multi-stakeholder) and, importantly, universal review, will start at

the launch of the new agenda. This (would) will be convened annually under the

auspices of the high level political forum (HLPF). It would provide a periodic

occasion for individual countries to (voluntarily) present national reviews of

progress, to discuss lessons learned in each country’s implementation of the

agenda, and the opportunity to review both short-term outputs and long-term

outcomes of the impact on progressively attaining the goals. Member States should consider multi-annual reviews under HLPF in a five-year cycle.

  1. A thematic component is needed to chart global progress at regular intervals on

the sustainable development framework, to help to identify challenges and

bottlenecks, and to mobilize action to address them. While such thematic

reviews could be carried out under the auspices of the HLPF, they would rely

on relevant coordination and review “platforms.” These could include

existing specialized or functional commissions, councils, or committees that

convene United Nations and other multilateral entities, relevant treaty body


reviews and outcomes, as well as Member States, partners from public interest civil society, science, academia and no- conflict private sector, and would monitor and advance each respective thematic area. Existing partnerships should also be linked to such platforms, in order to ensure (efficient) prompt and effective action and accountability.

To support and complement the process, and to ensure continuous gauging of

progress, the United Nations would provide annual global thematic reports

aggregating available data, together with the Global sustainable Development

Report, mandated by Rio+20.

  1. A component to review the global partnership for sustainable redistributive, development. The essential element of an equal partnership and its mobilization of the

means necessary for implementation must also be kept under active review.

As they prepare for the Third Conference on Financing for Development in

Addis Ababa, Member States (should) must seize the opportunity to consider how

existing structures and processes can help review and strengthen the global

partnership for sustainable development, including the Global Partnership for

Effective Development Cooperation. An important additional role for the

review process under this component will be to address the respective

conference tracks targeting the special conditions and needs of LDCs, LLDCs,

and SIDS.

  1. The current structure of our intergovernmental bodies can accommodate the

universal review process described above. The establishment of the HLPF, which meets

under the auspices of ECOSOC and the General Assembly, as well as the United Nations

Environment Assembly, were important institutional innovations emerging from

Rio+20. And the reform of ECOSOC has been another important step forward.

5.4 Making the UN fit for transformation

  1. This new, universal, sustainable development agenda requires an international

community that is “fit for purpose” in order to support countries to implement a new

generation of sustainable redistributive development goals. All who would be engaged in its

implementation will need to embrace its new parameters and its transformative elements.

The United Nations is no exception given its role in leading and shaping the sustainable

development agenda to 2030


  1. A UN system that is “fit for purpose” to deliver on the post-2015 agenda is one

that is relevant, innovative, agile, inclusive, coordinated and results-oriented. It is guided

by universal human rights and other international norms, integrates the UN’s normative

frameworks with its operational activities, and is responsive to the differentiated needs of

countries. It provides specialized advice when requested, and is equally adept at ensuring

an integrated approach, working across disciplines with relevant skill sets to better

support Member States in addressing complex multisectoral challenges. It forges effective partnerships to leverage external partners’ expertise, capacities and resources. Such a system requires shared goals, visionary and committed leadership, and a global, highly skilled and adaptable international civil service. And it must reach the highest standards of accountability, transparency and impact.

  1. In doing so, the UN system is committed to working more collaboratively to

leverage the expertise and capacities of all its organizations in support of sustainable

development. At the country level, UN Country Teams will provide coherent support to

national (stakeholders) actors to implement their new post-2015 development strategies while accelerating implementation of the standard operating procedures for “delivering as one” in order to achieve greater results for a sustainable and redistributive development. Emphasis will also be placed on using data and evidence more effectively and transparently and developing greater analytical capacity for really addressing inequalities, risk and vulnerability. The UN system will continue to pursue the development of more innovative and integrated (business) management models and the implementation of modern operational practices to gain efficiencies and enhanced impact.

  1. Ongoing efforts will also be deepened to ensure that a high-performing, mobile

and diverse workforce is in place to support the new post-2015 sustainable development

agenda. It must be able to leverage the respective expertise and specializations of UN

agencies to work across disciplines and functions to better address complex multi-sectoral challenges. An independent, highly skilled, engaged international civil service that can meet the ever-changing needs of the international community is our major comparative advantage. We will invest in attracting, retaining and deploying high-performing staff across locations, mandates and (business) management models.


  1. Critically, for the UN to be more “fit for purpose”, Member States must also be

more coherent in their support, in particular as it relates to governance and funding of the

UN system. Sustained development financing for longer-term support and that enables

pooling of resources and brings together development and humanitarian financing will be

critical as will more coherent UN funding mechanisms that unite rather than fragment the

development policy framework. Increased country cotizations to UN agencies is the key to independence from current non-transparent, conflict ridden PPPs.

  1. In this context, Members States (may wish) are to reinforce current actions being

taken as well as take initiatives to ensure that the UN system is “fit for purpose” to

support this new transformative agenda and achieve coordination and coherence of

development actors at country level.


  1. Conclusion: Together in a Universal Compact
  2. Today’s world is a troubled world; one in turmoil and turbulence, with no

shortage of painful political and human rights upheavals. Societies are under serious strain, stemming from the erosion of our common values, climate change and growing inequalities, to migration pressures and borderless pandemics. It is also a time in which the strength of national and international institutions is being seriously tested. The nature and scope of this daunting array of enormous challenges necessitate that both inaction and business-as-usual must be dismissed as options. If the global community does not exercise national and international leadership in the service of the inalienable rights of our peoples, we risk further fragmentation, impunity and strife, endangering both the planet itself as well as a future of peace, sustainable and redistributive development and, foremost, the respect of human rights. Simply put, this generation is charged with a duty to transform our societies.

  1. 2015 is hence the belated time for global action. During this single year we, once again, have the unequivocal opportunity and responsibility to adopt sustainable development, to clean up and restructure the global financial system in line with our needs, and to respond finally and urgently to the challenge of human-induced climate change. Although some problems have been with us for long, never before has the world had to face such a complex agenda in a single year. And this unique opportunity will not

come again in our generation.

  1. We must take the first, determined steps toward a sustainable and dignified

future. Transformation and a change of the development paradigm are our aims. We must transform our economies, our environment, and our societies. We must change old mindsets, behaviours, and exploitative and destructive patterns. We must embrace the integrated essential elements of Dignity, People, Prosperity, Planet, Justice and Partnership. We must build cohesive societies, in pursuit of international peace and stability, as well as the respect of HR. And, we must prioritise (good) fair international solutions through the prism of being in the national interest of every Member State.

  1. Such a future is possible if we collectively mobilise political will and the

necessary resources to strengthen our nations and the multilateral system. We have the

means and methods to meet these challenges if we decide to employ them and work

together. If the Member States now mobilise the world around action for a sustainable


and redistributive development – nationally and internationally – the United Nations will have proved its value as the primary universal body living up to the principles and purposes of the UN Charter with its three pillars.

  1. Overall, our work now is a sobering and inspiring challenge. We are on the

threshold of the most important year of development since the founding of the United

Nations itself. We must give meaning to this Organization’s promise “to reaffirm faith in

the dignity and worth of the human person” and to take the world forward to a sustainable

future. With this extraordinary process and the unprecedented leadership that it has

witnessed, we have a historic opportunity and duty to act, boldly, vigorously and

expeditiously, to turn reality into a life of dignity for all, leaving no one behind.


Endnotes omitted




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Food for a confessional thought (2) [f/u of HR Reader 325]


Human Rights Reader 350


The Readers are proof that by ventilating new ideas, all is open, all is possible; that is their true capital. They are not for wo/men with no social ideals and just personal ambitions, e.g., for intellectuals mainly dedicated to the pleasures of intelligence. (As the scientist Ernst Mayr said: Higher intelligence may be a lethal mutation. But the grim prognosis is not inevitable). And remember: Only those who have known excellence and glory in their work have the right to decadence. (J.R. Ribeyro)


  1. Some may say the Readers present a depressing outlook. But pessimism is not my personal inclination;* it rather is my measured reaction when faced with the stern reality.

*: Do not interpret my words as coming from a pessimist temper, because that is not my temper. Instead interpret them as a true confrontation with the facts that I would like to see handled in a totally different way. (R. Prebisch) For better or for worse, it is my conscience, my alter-ego, that is appealing to you my learned readership, I am aware.


  1. Actually, not pessimism, but skepticism is the healthier attitude that the Readers present; skepticism keeps up the hope that things will get better and a more just society can be constructed.**

**: On the other hand, naively longing for ‘a more optimistic future’ is really no more than a defensive mechanism when approaching it from an apolitical, technocratic perspective. Faced with what seems an ever-deteriorating reality (a race to the bottom in slow motion?), the political force of the human rights framework is what the Readers fall back-on over and over.


  1. All Readers have a similar structure and style –perhaps even being variations on the same theme. Is that their defect? I do not think so. It is perhaps useless to think about a more enterprising ambition when human rights (HR) are still so far away a dream: “marathon runner, do not sign up for the next 100 meters dash race”. (J.R. Ribeyro)


  1. As everybody does, I see and feel a certain reality which is the one I present in the Readers; it is the point of departure to express my apprehensions and my views for ways out.*** The information I gather for the Readers I catalogue according to a certain interior frame or pattern that is now familiar to many of you…That is probably why I cannot write fiction.

***: It is more, through writing the Readers, I myself try to understand the world better.


  1. By showcasing the world the way I see it through the Readers, I peak into history through a small window seeing just a part of reality. The reality I depict presents, but does not always explain, what motivation was behind the facts I cover. So, in the Readers, I am like a mirror reflecting the reality as I see it. On top of it, I do try to incorporate a certain transcendence or universality into the facts covered.


  1. As the author of the Readers, I am really a social insider, yes, but one that does not really have to personally live with HR violations day-in-day-out. So one can say I look at these violations with an outsider’s moralist eye. True. Nevertheless, I do present to you the vision of the downtrodden, of the humiliated whose rights are being violated and who are perennially facing a hostile world. I reflect every sort of denigration imposed on them as they defend themselves the best they can, sometimes to no avail, in a game they have lost in advance. But fate is not tragic per-se.**** I never fail to point this out. Claim holders often have a hidden determination (even if sometimes frustrated) of overcoming adversity with blind determination.

****: By the way, humor does not release us from tragedy, it just makes it more livable. (J.R. Ribeyro)


  1. I reckon the Readers must be entertaining, moving, intriguing, surprising; and, if all of these, even better. If they fail to elicit any of these effects they are not worthwhile. The style must be (and is) direct and has to show and educate even if, often, they are not more than a collage of unrelated texts I weave in my loom. The Readers push you, their readers, to take a position that brings you into a determination to act. If the Readers are not taken as such I consider them a failure.*****

*****: Language in the Readers is important. To know a language is to know a destination, the famed Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges said. And Marcel Proust was of the opinion that a writing style is not about technique, but about one’s vision.


  1. The Readers actually recompose reality; they are like come-alive-again notions lost in obscure footnotes at the foot of the page of world history. Sometimes their text addresses the social context of HR as a testimony, criticizing and making explicit specific denunciations. Why? Because ‘evil once perceived is half-the-way to its solution’. Such a choice already implies an intentionality, one that points to a particular view of the world.****** The Readers thus do not offer you a new shelf in an old shop; they offer you a whole new shop. (G. Cannon)

******: Ernesto Sabato, another Argentinian writer, used to say that it is the subjects that choose the writer. As for me, I choose to provide more than a social Xray; I try to convey a moral message –repeatedly. I use a certain tone and style that, repeated from multiple angles, points to my personal way of looking at reality. [Time and time again, over and over once more, until we right the wrong. (J. Koenig)] This is the reason why I pay special attention to using the right adjectivation in the written texts. What I do not know is if I succeed in saying just enough when I mean to signify as much as possible.


  1. Given the prevailing climate of political complacency I feel is out there, the message in the Readers is against despair, but for liberation and for rebellion. The intent is to help move claim holders out of the state of complacency they too often find themselves in. The intent is certainly not to promote their climbing the social ladder (that is the aspiration of so many of the ‘disinherited’). The world of officialdom always alienates the individual with such an aspiration that ends up with people building a defensive mechanism, an alternative universe where they can find abode for their battered dignity. Claim holders are continually confronted with a reality that does not agree with their wishes and dreams. As a defense against their despair, they thus invent themselves a more livable reality. Nevertheless, the harsh reality finally catches up with them. But the illusory self-awareness is stronger and individuals refuse to lose their last bit of self-esteem and of unrealistic hope. This just shows the fragility of that illusory world they build themselves. The harsh reality comes back and shakes them up. Sooner or later, the illusion is thus bound to be shattered. (It is true that the imagination has the power to transform reality, cancelling out its ugly and sad sides). Individuals are then left without authentic convictions, maybe because they realize they do not have the power to change the social reality. But directly acting to change the adverse reality does not cross their mind!******* They prefer to deny such a thought. This is a big part of our problem. Excuses are for losers, those that neither hate nor feel pain, but feel something vaguely related to an injustice and certainly to a sense of nihilism and of faith lost; excuses are also for those with few and poorly held hopes, hopes they feel way beyond their reach leaving them embittered, but not defeated, still faintly desiring to fight back or avenge, but somehow preferring to ignore that desire: indefinitely?. (J.C. Onetti)

*******: When individuals are incapable or uninterested to modify their situation, they remain in a detained suspense; in a limbo that is ahistoric, because there are indeed chances that provide for their integration. “Why act?”, they say, convinced that the world cannot be changed. “Rebelling for what…?” HR work is precisely aimed at overcoming such an attitude by choosing the path of pointing out and reversing such paralyzing pessimism.


  1. What is meant here above is that marginalization often is a cause of defeatism. From this repeated experience, one could deduce a tragic conception of our existence. But, of course, it is not about that… Therefore, confronting reality –without falling into nihilism– is key to my Readers. They provide information and analysis, yes, but they also take sides. The analysis and alternatives that I present are embodied in a vision of a society that is more just, more equal and more HR conscious. Ultimately, my hope is that the contents of the Readers will stimulate you to reflect more concretely about what needs to change, how things can be done differently, and how people can be at the center of bringing about desired change. (Global Health Watch 4, PHM)


  1. On the more formal side, I see the Readers as a contribution to the information and training of all those engaged in the struggle for the respect and advancement of HR. Readers are firmly committed to support HR, in particular economic, social and cultural rights and the right to development. They are conceived as learning guides that analyze contents and the scope of international HR covenants and the practice and obligations of states; they also present existing complaints avenues and can provide examples of jurisprudence. (CETIM) As regards the titles of the Readers, they allude to some of the purported truth presented in each of them******** or to some experience I had in the course of writing them.

********: Facetiously, absolute truth does not exist, and this is absolutely true…


  1. I would say that, over the years, since the Readers had their debut, my passion has reached a more moderate quiet state a bit over halfway between being duty-bound and being somewhat apathetic. (What about your passion?) That is probably the fate of all passions; they slowly fade. But I keep propping myself up.


  1. Finally, do not blame me for my testimony in the Readers so often being sour. It is not up to me to alter reality, no matter how intolerable. But I need to reflect it with lucidity. It is for claim holders to take it from there. However, a lone struggle is useless as is self-commiseration. Claim holders have to coalesce in their demanding sweeping changes and thus exercising their inalienable rights –and you who reads this can be a catalyst.


Claudio Schuftan, Ho Chi Minh City


#: Adapted from Julio Ramon Ribeyro, Cuentos, M.T. Perez editor, Ediciones Catedra, Letras Hispanas, Madrid, 2013.



-I do not have many good ideas; but when someone else has one, I easily have a better idea. (Leibnitz)

-Inspiration exists, but it has to find you while working. (Pablo Picasso)

– Make up a concept and you will dominate the way reality is perceived. (R. Ampuero)

– I am so demanding with myself that I cannot write five words without changing seven. (Dorothy Parker)

-As Woody Allen would have said: I have not changed much: Before, I was indecisive and now I am not sure.

-One is always discovering new things one did not know before. The act of writing has the advantage and the almost magic power that, as one tries to understand what is happening so as to explain it to others, one comes up with yet new ideas one had never thought about. Those who do not interact through writing, it is said, simply stop thinking –and s/he who does not say it in writing, does not think. (C. Rangel)

– I contend that political, social, HR and other movements can be catalyzed and amplified by editors of periodicals –and these days by bloggers– especially those who do not have fixed agendas and show a strong egalitarian streak. I particularly enjoy good editors and bloggers who pause over a choice of words. This can and does open up a discussion about ideas, history, social justice, etc. All is in the language. It can or cannot take us into a world of light. Anything other is not editing; it is tidying. (G. Cannon)

-We actually do not need to give so many explanations; our friends do not need them and our enemies do not deserve them. You know? The advantage of music over the written word is that music does not lie… (A. Gomez)

-Much must be challenged
Many things can still be changed
It’s not too late in the day. (J. Koenig)

-To me, writing is a concentrated form of thinking. S/he who writes the way s/he talks, even if s/he talks well, writes poorly. (A. Gomez)

-What can we learn from the telegraph? That every word counts and is charged for. (Rabbi of Sadagora)



SocMed: Fellowship in Social Medicine

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We are now recruiting for our SocMed Oryema Fellowship in Social Medicine as part of the annual course Beyond the Biological Basis of Disease course in Uganda and invite interested individuals to now apply.

Fellowship Description:

Named in honor of Oryema Patrick, a nurse dedicated to equitable health care delivery in Northern Uganda who died in 2011, the fellowship aims to mentor, inspire, and challenge practitioners of social medicine through a year-long endeavor in the coordination and implementation of social medicine education course in Uganda.


  • Fellowship runs from July 1st, 2015 to June 30th, 2016
  • Minimum in-country time in Uganda from approximately November 1st, 2015 to March 1st, 2016
  • Minimum commitment of 20 hours per week (for time in Uganda, we will help facilitate placement in other health-related organization for the remainder of his/her time, if necessary)


  • Minimum BA/BS degree
  • Overseas experience, particularly in resource-poor settings
  • Leadership, communication, problem-solving skills
  • Flexible and open-minded in new and sometimes challenging environments

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Participate in research related to teaching/learning of the course including proposal development, data collection, analysis, and write-up
  • Serve as SocMed ambassador in Uganda and US through outreach, meetings, casual encounters, etc.
  • Serve as liaison with Ugandan university students in Gulu, Mbarara, and Kampala
  • Document delivery of course for potential publishable curriculum guide
  • Support lecture development and manage field visits
  • Participate in outreach and recruitment for student participants globally
  • Organize fundraising initiatives for SocMed
  • Arrange course speakers and develop relationships with potential new course speakers and Lacor clinicians
  • Regularly update SocMed website
  • Logistical support (regular communication with admitted students; coordinate travel plans of international students, work with caterer, organize in-country transport, organize printing of course reader, student housing)
  • Work alongside Ugandan colleagues, including a counterpart in similar position
  • Regular communication with course directors

Specific responsibilities for this fellowship would vary with the level of training of the fellow. We are committed to ensuring the fellow receives quality mentorship throughout the year in order that her/his personal and professional goals are included.  He/she would not only serve a critical role in ensuring the smooth implementation of social medicine education but our goal is that he/she would also gain valuable experience in global health.

Since SocMed is a grassroots organization operating with very limited funds, the Oryema Fellowship is, unfortunately, not currently a funded position.  The fellow is responsible for his/her own airfare to Uganda, insurance, and living expenses as well as expenses associated with travel documents, medical services, or recommended immunizations.  SocMed does offer a modest stipend for living expenses incurred while in Uganda, full room/board for the month of the course, and reimbursement for in-country travel and other expenses incurred while attending to the responsibilities of the fellowship.

Information on Application Process:

If you are interested in the Oryema Fellowship, please send a detailed letter of interest, a copy of your CV, and a letter of recommendation to by Friday January 16, 2015. The letter of recommendation should be sent directly from the recommender and should assess the candidate’s leadership, communication, and problem-solving skills as well as his/her capacity to adapt to new environments.

Further information can be found on the SocMed website:

Please view our past and current fellows by visiting:

All queries related to the fellowship and/or application process may also be directed to that same email address.


Dr. Dawn Belkin Martinez & Social Justice in Clinical Practice

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On Tuesday, November 11th, Dr. Dawn Belkin Martinez will be presenting at Social Medicine Rounds on: Social Justice in Clinical Practice.  The venue will be 3544 Jerome Avenue and the session will run from 4:30 to 6PM.

Dr. Belkin Martinez has adopted a “liberation health” model for her clinical practice in social work and family therapy.  She and Ann Fleck-Henderson have co-edited a book describing this model: Social Justice in Clinical Practice: A Liberation Health Framework for Social Work.

What follows is a brief biosketch of Dr. Belkin Martinez:


belkinpixDawn Belkin Martinez, PhD, LICSW is a Lecturer in Clinical Practice at the Boston University School of Social Work and was formerly an instructor in psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School.  Trained as a family therapist, Dawn worked as the senior social worker on the Inpatient Psychiatry Service at Children’s Hospital Boston for thirteen years and is the co-author of the book Social Justice in Clinical Practice: A Liberation Health Framework for Social Work.   Dawn is one of the founding members of the Boston Liberation Health Group and gives presentations locally, nationally, and internationally about her work with immigrant families, liberation health theory and practice,

posted by Matt Anderson, MD


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Food for a majority’s thought


Human Rights Reader 349


…But is such a democracy a luxury that not everybody deserves? (E. Galeano)


*: Minorities within the majority: The importance of Gandhi was to introduce in the 20th century the idea of how powerful a minority avant-garde motivated and moved by human rights can be when really committed. He said: “It is not the numbers that count, but the quality; strength in numbers alone does not make a just cause”.


We cannot lose a democracy we never had.


  1. The illusion of democracy is just one of the many illusions that we have been educated to believe in.


  1. Many world leaders have been heard lately lamenting the death of democracy. There is actually reason for them to lament. But for something to die, it must have once lived.** Has there been democracy in most countries around the world? The answer is no. From the human rights (HR) perspective, for sure, for too long there has not been a truly democratic state.

**: Confronted with a conflict between evidence and what-they-want-to-believe-for-political and/or religious-reasons, many people reject the evidence. Apathetic individuals in society simply accept what they get –provided that not much changes and there are no surprises. They flow with the tide. The problem is not ignorance; it is wishful thinking. And knowing more about the issues widens the divide, because the well informed (you?) then have a clearer view of the evidence they need to oppose those who uncritically sustain their belief in what in reality is an undemocratic system. (P. Krugman and C. Fuentes)


  1. Governments have ruled over millions keeping their basic freedoms and HR abrogated. Indeed, there has been an illusion of democracy, or alternatively, a democracy for the haves only. This, of course, is a contradiction in terms. It is not easy to confront the fact that much of the life education we get is full of indoctrination. On second examination, just lightly scratching the surface, reveals to us what is basically a cover-up of an entirely different reality. Some of us discover this at an early age, others later. There are also those who will never discover this –perhaps they would even prefer not to see it. Representative democracy is perceived to be something positive until we understand that it means excluding a big chunk of the population from their rights. Representative democracy has enabled the pushing aside of many cultures, not infrequently with violence. There are also clichés like: democracy is about ‘free’ elections…. This is a bothersome thought. Is it possible that everything we were raised on, or at least most of it, is mistaken? What is the significance and consequence of this? (And does asking these questions undermine the fact that representative democracy is abused, often rigged and deeply flawed?) If democracy must be based on wealth, on a strong fist, on pushing out others, on violating their HR, on nationalism, on chauvinism and on militarism, then the answer is yes: mistaken it is. The pleading of too many in society regularly falls on deaf ears. It appears that the first condition for really fixing this situation –if that is still possible– is the recognition that we did not lose democracy now. We never really had it. (T. Saar)


  1. Many of our leaders seem to act like in the tragedies of classical Greek theater: Everybody knows what will happen, everybody says they do not want it to happen, but they do precisely the necessary for the undesired, unwelcome (tragic) outcome they want to avoid to happen. (Albino Gomez) Acquiescence with the designs of Capitalism is bad for democracy. Politicians simply too often pursue economic growth policies with disregard for the social and HR costs involved. What I say is that democracy cannot be governed by the market. The Greeks already knew it: In decision making, separate the market place from the forum.


Democracy, live it or lose it (F.M. Lappe)


To install a more direct democracy, upping our civil courage quotient is a must. Democracy is in bad need of that ‘participative twist’ it has been missing. (The Occupy Wallstreet Movement spoke of Consensus-based Direct Democracy)


  1. Democracy is not viable if it does not empower those rendered poor and marginalized by an unfair system, if it does not respond first and foremost to the needs and the HR of the most needy.*** We have to recreate our political systems burying all forms of hierarchy, of monarchy, of oligarchy and burying the anarchy the markets of capitalism create. We must transition from representative democracies in which power serves the interests of the elites to Communal Direct Democracies where there are no majorities and minorities, but rather decisions are taken by consensus and where reason imposes itself over rigged voting that, day-in-day-out, leads to unfair and biased decision making. Politicians cannot be allowed to use state administrative, judicial and economic tools for their own private, personal and class interests. (Evo Morales)

***: The weight of claim holders power is not to be in their voting in national elections, but in the demands they ongoingly place; demands that bring about the needed conflicts that ultimately bring about change. (E. Gruner)


  1. As US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously said: “We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of the few, but we cannot have both.” In a truly democratic country, the necessary legislation must be preceded by reasoned, responsible demands by organized public interest groups.


We must call things for what they really are


George Orwell already said: “England is a country of good people with the wrong people at the helm”.


  1. We cannot continue calling national reconstruction processes what in real truth are dictatorships. The actions of such governments are not implemented ‘by mistake’, they are calculated: they pursue effects rather than addressing the causes –and all they cannot control is forbidden. (A. Gomez) If these authoritarian regimes do not become increasingly more democratic, it is young people in urban areas that will protest and act (think Arab Spring). The youth has had it with the indifference they see, with the empty speeches and insincere declarations, with the loud and ambiguous declamations and posturing that only add to a chronic trend of procrastination and lack of HR accountability. (E. Galeano)


  1. Other large sectors of society remain ignorant and unmoved about what befalls them and why, thereby virtually accepting their fate. But this is precisely the consequence of the underdevelopment they have been thrown into for generations. Conversely, there is no ignorance of the elites in throwing society into underdevelopment. (D. Caputo)


Human rights in many Constitutions: Any good?


  1. With all the importance that that what is sanctioned in some of our Constitutions has, it means nothing if every person, no matter where, and no matter what her/his activity, does not internalize and demand what is said in those clauses. (J. Monsalvo) This, because too often there are huge distances between a Constitution and concrete political practices.


Taking our grievances to the streets: Any good?


Many governments give themselves the license to forget that, sooner or later, they will have to listen to the voice of the people in chats, in blogs, in tweets and, finally, in all the public squares of their cities. If they ignore this reality, their hour will come. (Julian Assange)


  1. Public street demonstrations are an opportunity for letting off steam, for a certain degree of catharsis (when people can freely express their deep feelings).**** But these demonstrations cannot only be to denounce; they also have to announce a new order –a plan; and that is where they so often fail: no concrete follow up plans …after all dies down, then what?

****: At the same time, these acts are not only the consequence of the piling up of broken promises, of leaders’ insensitivity to people’s demands and to overall government laissez faire, but are also the consequence of opposition parties being perceived by the marchers as not forcefully enough representing their demands. (A. Gomez)


Democracy will never be supplanted by a republic of experts –and that is a very good thing (T. Piketty)


  1. Whichever way we jump, in HR work we have to do so democratically, becoming the champions of direct democracy …and there is no sense of waiting forever. (K. H. O’Rourke) We have to take advantage of the HR-given avenues for action and certainly not be afraid of grasping such liberty; much less so be afraid of those who want to restrict liberty and the fulfillment of HR. If not now, when?


Claudio Schuftan, Ho Chi Minh City



-There is a better world, sure, but it is very, very expensive. (Les Luthiers) …In that world of Oz, hypocrisy is without shame.

-The world can be changed. If for better, the challenge needs people power. (J. Koenig)

-But beware: The power of truth does not move men. The tenet of neoliberal philosophy that ‘power positions will yield to arguments rationally and morally valid’ has for long been definitively refuted. It is material interests that drive capitalist societies and even drive to wars. Power rules; ideas don’t. The arguments of power defeat the power of arguments. (H. J. Morgenthau, Bertrand Russel)

-All that is necessary for the triumph of evil, is that good wo/men do nothing. (Edmund Burke)



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Food for a center stage thought


Human Rights Reader 348


-We are weary of those who speak human rights and deny them to their own people (or perhaps do not deny them, but do not actually know enough about them). (S. Koenig)

-In a way, we are living through the pregnancy phase of the new human rights paradigm. A pregnancy there is, yes, but in cases such as this, pregnancies sometimes progress, sometimes stagnate, they even occasionally regress and/or produce malformations or end in abortion. In our case, it is a pregnancy that has ended up in a human rights paradigm of many fathers –which now makes it acceptable to many. Its fate will continue to depend on a joint parenthood, but now, all will have to come together and become active fathers and stop being mere spectators. We need to deliver a healthy baby. (L. Weinstein)


  1. We live in an era in which the ideals of human rights (HR) have moved center stage both ethically and politically*. A great deal of energy is expended in promoting their significance for the construction of a better world. But, for the most part, the concepts circulating do not fundamentally challenge hegemonic liberal and neoliberal market logic or the dominant modes of legality and of state action. We live, after all, in a world in which the rights of private property and profit trump all other notions of rights. (D. Harvey)

*: Some have asked: Is there a need for an ethical and political de-colonization of human rights? This begs the further question: Is there really a neo-colonial element in the HR discourse? Absolutely not! HR are universal; there is no cultural relativism. But there is dissatisfaction and even mistrust of human rights as an instrument for meaningful social change –and that is where the HR Readers come in.


  1. What is thus needed is an approach to HR informed by the dispassionate analysis of the oppressive, HR-violating, HR abusing or HR neglecting context of so many of the national and global social and political relationships. It is in this contexts that a ‘people-centered human rights concept and approach’ has been growing, based on the principles of social solidarity, of cooperation, of non-discrimination in all social relationships, of collective public ownership of the earth’s resources, of respect for difference, of self-determination of all peoples’ and of the recognition and respect for the inherent dignity of all individuals and people. (A. Baraka, Pambazuka News 659, 18 December 2013,


  1. The approach departs from the premise that, as a given, the currently prevailing worldwide system of social and political relations must be reformed. But reforms have to be arrived-at through consensus building with a) aggrieved claim holders, i.e., people for whom HR violations are part of everyday life, and b) duty bearers pondering the available evidence plus minding, weighing and heeding all pertinent political and ideological considerations. Never forget: Only where/when claim holders actively demand do governments not only listen, but act.


  1. Within the HR-based approach, it is the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) that is the most misunderstood instrument in the international human rights system. With the entry into force of its Optional Protocol, allowing individuals and communities to formally place complaints, ICESCR is poised to become a significant game changer in international HR law. At the national level, constitutions and courts have increasingly regarded socio-economic and cultural rights as justiciable thus narrowing the traditional divide with civil and political rights –and this is encouraging.


  1. We all know that, over decades, the economic trickle-down effect did not happen so that inequalities within a given generation were not reduced, much less eliminated. Why do we then, so often, assume that now trickle-down will do so even across generations? Actually, the most marginalized populations remain unrepresented in the practice of managing world development affairs: Here I mean particularly the future generations. Our relationships with future generations regarding HR and development issues remain largely undefined; there is a lot of show and very little substance. Future generations seem to be, but are not, an abstract entity! Establishing minimum considerations for future generations is not only necessary, but possible and indispensable. Principles such as universality and the progressive realization of HR provide the moral and legal impetus for it. If we begin now to address future generations as a rights-bearing group, we will make progress on even the most protracted inequalities that have defeated decades of development praxis. (K. Moir)


By seeing the big picture we can change it. A human rights analysis breeds not paralysis, but rather informed and inspired action.


-Is our immediate objective in HR work to achieve social peace or, to start with, a certain degree of social upheaval?

-The most important thing is perhaps the way contradictions in HR are managed: by force or by dialogue? …Or by forceful, unrelenting demands by claim holders? (CETIM)


  1. As a starter, what about these action points? (By far, here below not an all inclusive list, but rather an illustrative one just to shine a spotlight).

One: Labor unions and political parties are not articulating platforms that have HR at their core. If they did, this would be very powerful: a challenge here. Unions in principle represent claim holders; progressive parties also should, but often do not… Inter-union alliances and political parties coalitions around HR are a neglected goal to pursue, not to talk about labor union/political parties alliances on these issues so as to arrive at a wider national civil society platform on HR.


Two: Stop throwing more task forces or committees at our social problems worldwide; doing so is clearly a delaying tactic. Such task forces or committees generally are but an assembly of important people who, alone, cannot do anything while, together, they decide that nothing can be done. (Albino Gomez) [Those who know that you are right will raise heaven on earth to create the illusion that you are wrong, anyway. (P. Bhargava)] Concentrate on empowering claim holders and duty bearers.**

**: Claim holders have the right to empower themselves to change the dire HR situation they experience. This transformation –that calls for a massive HR learning push– is indispensable since change depends on amassing the collective power to right what is wrong. The freedom to make and remake ourselves is one of the most precious yet most neglected of our HR. (D. Harvey)


Three: Since chronic vulnerability is caused by HR violations, denounce chronic vulnerability as being caused by an unfair/unjust society. (Note that certain groups in society are not vulnerable, they are rendered vulnerable…).


Four: For HR activists, social protection is different from social justice. Why? Because the latter identifies the responsible duty bearers. Therefore, it is carrying out capacity analyses using the HR-based framework what will identify the latter for claim holders to direct their demands to.


Five: Cultural diversity expresses the wealth of humanity. Therefore, States have to be made to respect and protect this wealth at the same time the respect other people’s rights.


Six: Both individuals, as well as communities are, at the same time, actors and holders of HR. Therefore, we must interpret HR covenants to include the rights of communities and provide outlets for the latter to claim and exercise their members’ rights.


Seven: As relates to scientific research, the same should have a social function bearing in mind that all scientific progress does not necessarily benefit humanity. Its orientation, its purpose and its financing must be subject to political scrutiny.*** (CETIM)

***: Scientific evidence is necessary, but not sufficient to bring about change in public policy. Always remember that politicians move when they are scared, not necessarily when the evidence is overwhelming. (F. Kummerov)


Eight: We need to always make a clear distinction between ‘discrimination’ –a very ‘active’ behavior– and ‘inequalities’ –that may be the result of a variety of factors. There are three levels that this must be looked at:

  • Groups being deliberately excluded for any reason (in any development process).
  • Groups being missed out because they are ‘invisible’.
  • Socially excluded groups being actively sought out.****

****: Also consider people being excluded by decision makers not following best practice. If (human/financial/environmental) resources are limited, corners will be cut and the socially excluded are likely to suffer first/the most due to their relative position in society. Think about the Dalits in India. This is not only an issue of discrimination or lack of equality – it is also an issue of poorly resourced interventions. The question is: Should implementers be blamed for doing what they think is best with the limited resources (including skills and knowledge) they have at hand? (B. Reed)
The action point here is to forcefully demand the excluded groups be actively sought out.


Nine: Accountability is about more than apportioning blame –this ‘holding to account’ is only a small part of the story. Accountability means clarity about who is responsible for what; duty bearers and service providers need to have clarity about where their responsibilities to users begin and end; claim holders as users need to be clear what they are entitled to expect from providers and how to seek redress if this fails. Accountability is best exercised by a regulatory and coordination body with clear objectives and definitive public interest civil society organizations (CSOs) participation. (T. Brewer)


Ten: Creating or strengthening an existing HR commission that bring together public interest CSOs, regulators and other government officials to identify policy constraints that most hurt claim holders is a good action point. Active involvement by social movements is critical, because officials do not always understand how HR work and how their violation affects people. A HR commission can help identify problems and solutions. A key task for the commission is to devise plans to address the most detrimental policies and to increase compliance of duty bearers by reinforcing regulatory objectives and activities. A policy performance baseline can be established that will set the monitoring guidelines. Dispute resolution mechanisms will also be set up. It is the participating CSOs that must contribute the information needed for the commission’s performance monitoring.***** Other issues for the commission to address are: i) the government may not want to provide data that makes it look bad (or because it will have to incur in costs to collect it or disaggregate it), and ii) Public interest CSOs may not trust the data provided by the government. In that case, household surveys can be used to address such concerns, but data compilation has to be done by an independent organization free of industry or government dependence or influence. (B. Hoekman)

*****: This begs the difficult question: What metrics should one be using to follow HR improvements? This is an old question about which activists have for long looked for an answer.


Claudio Schuftan, Ho hi Minh City



-Do you really think the Readers are trying to explain to you specific articles of the UN HR covenants and conventions? These do not need explanation! I just want to explain what they mean to me. (Adapted from Rabbi Mordechai of Lechovitz as cited by Martin Buber) [Then, who am I, you ask? Sought by all, owned by very few. I am dignity. (J. Koenig)].


-We do not need to give so many explanations; our friends do not need them and our enemies do not deserve them. (A. Gomez)

-When all is said and done, and all questions are answered, who will have the last word? (J. Koenig)


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Food for a disquieting wake up thought (2)


Human Rights Reader 347
Have we fallen into the trap of using the language of neoliberals so that they are able to shape how we think and behave in regards to human rights? (S. Kidd)


One does not combat neoliberalism because one can defeat it; one combats it because it is neoliberal. (J.P. Sartre said this for Fascism)

16. Neoliberal theories are nets cast widely to catch what capitalists call ‘world markets’. OK, but what for? To rationalize, to justify, and to master what really is a process of exploitation or of accumulation by dispossession?

17. This is a world in which the neoliberal ethics of intense possessive individualism and the concomitant political withdrawal from collective forms of action, typically affecting human rights, have become the template for our socialization. More than before, in the past three decades, the neoliberal turn has restored class power to rich elites who have a manner to solving the key questions of hot issues in society in a way that the solutions continually reproduce the questions anew. Under these conditions, neoliberal ethics becomes much harder to sustain –and we have to use this, their weakness.

18. However, in the 21st century, we have yet to see a coherent opposition to these developments. Many diverse single-issue social movements are focusing on this question only indirectly and have not yet converged on the singular aim of gaining greater control over what really underlies their particular single-issue of concern, i.e., neoliberal ideology. At this point in history, this has to become a global struggle, for this is the scale at which processes now work. The political task of organizing such a confrontation is not only daunting, but also urgent. The opportunities are multiple since crises repeatedly recur. The metropolis now is a point of massive collisions including rather dramatic clashes on human rights (HR) issues –dare we say a part and parcel of class struggle? One step towards unifying these struggles is to adopt the HR framework as both a working project and a political ideal and by applying the democratization core of HR plus its drive to build a broad social movement to enforce the people’s will. This is imperative if claim holders are to take control of what they have so long been denied. (D. Harvey)


Science, technology and ideology: Where are human rights?


Over time, a string of not-circumstantial-errors have been eroding the widespread people’s trust in scientific ‘objectivity’ which claims that science actually best explains the world to us. The ideology of neoliberalism that has ruled us in this phase has further contributed to this.

19. The felt need to legitimate science and technology to fit the pursuits of Capitalism became the point of departure for the basically dogmatic and anti-scientific shift that has biased much of ‘objectivity’. The statement that the problem is not in technology itself, but in its use is doubly worrisome, because it hides the growing subordination of science to economic power and it (re)validates and legitimizes the techno-centric bases of neoliberalism. Such a legitimation comes from the simplistic idea that technology being neutral and universal always denotes progress. …and if something goes wrong, it is because an unforeseen “Dr No” used it improperly and any damage that results from it can certainly be remedied in the future by another better technology …or by naively assuming that state regulation will take care of it (ignoring that the state is actually a partner of the interests that control science and technology).

20. Our leaders prefer to ignore that technologies are the non-innocent social product designed to fit or serve the hegemonic cosmovisions that the capitalist system demands. These leaders want to make us believe that everything is just technical thus effectively disguising the true ideology of science; or better, replacing it by a limited science devoid of any critical reflection. Ergo, a way to ignore the power relations in society is to place science and technology at the service of the dominant power. To achieve this, our leaders predict all sorts of catastrophes if society does not devotedly assume that the sanctioned science and technology is the only way forward for ’progress’ to occur.

21. So let’s retain: Science and technology are part of the powers that be. What can one, therefore ask from them? Honesty in their dictates and accomplishments? Well, it is the experts who, consciously or not, subserviently ignore these evils and banalize science (protected by a core group of intellectuals relegated to their prestigious ivory towers) that, in reality, promote what is fragmentary pieces of knowledge. Said another way, technology has been and is directed by the designs of the capital that makes it possible, i.e., technology is not a product of the neutrality or virtuosity of scientific development, but follows the ideological conceptualization and interests behind the construction of a paradigm based on predatory appropriation.

22. Being determined by market forces, science and technology are thus not neutral in their intentions. This makes active social involvement a must so as to combat biased interpretations and applications of science and technology as they threaten our future. In last instance, ‘technological progress’ simplifies complexity and sells certainty. In its discourse, we find much ambition, (false) pride, a poor understanding of the world’s complexity and simply poor science. It is big business and a falsely legitimizing discourse that honest scientists must face particularly due to the fact that transnational corporations (TNCs) own publishing houses, scientific journals and block publications adverse to the paradigm. Science, its sense of ‘for what’, ‘for whom’ and ‘going where’ is in crisis and we, in HR work, cannot pretend ignoring it if we want to pursue and accomplish our goals for a better world. ( )


Are the rights of nature being trampled?


The sad truth is that we pay so much more attention to the global financial crisis than to the ecological crisis.

 23. It is at the local level that all contradictions of Capitalism explode. The capitalist system thrives on these conflicts and uses them to its advantage. (La Via Campesina). Take for instance our increasing worries about climate change. In the last several years, the ideologues of the capitalist system have wanted to sell us the idea of a green economy as the salvation of our model of society. But this does not really mean an inch more than the mercantilization of nature. This is the bottom line of the proposed ‘Green Capitalism”. (Evo Morales)

24. Or take another example: TNCs playing no minor role, our planet is being exhausted of clean water, fertile soils, strategic minerals, energy and the rich fishing wealth of our oceans. Extractive industries are exploiting and killing all that. As a result, huge corporations suck-in whatever there is. Water is contaminated, energy is squandered, soils are desertified and overfishing is rife. (T. Abraham)

25. I fear our hopes for advancing social and environmental justice are slim. Justice demands a recalibration of power and that requires us to better understand it. Power is hidden and concealed. The peasants who lose land or whose river
is polluted by mining may not know the name of the owner or corporation threatening their livelihood. Corporations have systematically and silently appropriated power and authority through lobbying, trade and investment agreements, and through unaccountable expert and lobbying groups and bodies. This concealed corporate power threatens to become further entrenched.

26. Constant vigilance is needed as transnational corporations power morphs into ever new arenas and, beware, State and capital are an ‘inseparable duo’. They depend on each other both to dispossess and also to build legitimacy for their ongoing appropriation. For instance, the fateful triangle of big energy, big finance and complicit governments prevents a desperately needed radical response to climate change. Disassembling this fateful triangle requires that we better and more proactively use our creative skills, alternative knowledge and values to overturn neoliberalism by launching practical and feasible alternatives that embody the values of solidarity, social justice, co-operation, HR and democracy we all aspire to. (TNI)


A transnational corporations’ architecture of impunity


The power of special interests is far greater than that of the public opinion’s sentiment.

 27. Obtaining results, for TNCs includes achieving political results –and the capacity to obtain them from governments is inexorably growing.* As said earlier, democracy is gradually succumbing to the disease of neoliberal ideology so that more and more functions of legitimate governments are being taken over by illegitimate, unelected, opaque agentss, lobbyist and organizations. For neoliberals, every aspect of the welfare state is abhorrent, because it consists in taking resources from the rich –those who supposedly created them– and giving that wealth to those who do not deserve it. The rich owe nothing to the poor; nor do the rich owe anything to nature.

*: Commercial entities’ power is not only in the room of national or international meetings; it is also outside the room, in lobbying, sponsoring, financing good-for-them strategies. They only attend meetings to inform themselves and to perfect their strategy elsewhere.  The challenge is: How can we compete with that? (O.  Frank)

28. Therefore, among many other reasons, as HR activists, we should care. Why? Because unless and until we can compel transnational corporations to adopt, among other, ‘country-by country’ reporting, they will continue to pay –usually quite legally– minimal taxes in most of the countries where they have branches. With total impunity, they can and do place their profits
in low or no-tax jurisdictions and their losses in high-tax ones. At present, if they so choose, they can report simply on the home country where they have their headquarters and then forget to do it in the rest of world.

29. Much law is now made beyond national borders and, in the international sphere, much of this law concerns ways to allow corporations greater scope and freedom. Large number of new trade treaties are allowing TNCs to infiltrate executive, legislative and even judicial State functions. Even the United Nations is now a TNC target –and the UN agencies welcomes their presence. (S. George)

30. Moreover, TNCs ignore conflict of interest issues until the same enter the public discourse. They dismiss such criticism and ridicule any suggestions of its validity. They hire public relations firms to characterize available studies as ‘junk science’. They attack scientists, sometimes personally, claiming they are biased against industry (the same for HR activists). They pay scientists to undertake studies that plant doubt. They call-in favors from community groups and professional associations they have supported to discount the critical claims. They begin public relations campaigns to counter the concept. They make self-regulatory pledges to care for the public good and issue promises to change business practices (such as marketing certain products to children). They spend massive amounts to lobby against policy changes that would alter their ability to continue business as usual. They work to have industry figures or supportive political figures installed in key regulatory agencies in order to stall, subvert or weaken all regulatory action. (K. Brownell, M. Gold)

31. Furthermore, it is not exactly news that governments have always governed on behalf of certain class interests. But this is different from allowing those interests to actually write the legislation and to make policy directly, including budgetary, financial, labor, social and environmental policy, in place of elected legislators and civil servants. It is different from allowing corporations to disseminate deception and lies and to undermine the public’s right to know. It is also different from allowing such interests to replace the established judiciary with ad-hoc courts in areas such as trade dispute arbitration, even in jurisdictions where the justice system is known to be fair and independent. (S. George)

32. TNCs also benefit from the unbalanced commodification of scientific progress (which is contrary to HR aims) in a way that is almost always detrimental to claim holders. This is particularly done through the patent system. (CETIM) It is high time to end the privatization of knowledge that deprives individuals and impoverishes society overall. (UN Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights)

33. Our concern thus is with the damage done as a result of the unbridled commercial freedoms that, since the 1980s, have been recklessly ceded by elected governments to TNCs of all types, whose activities are contributing to the fuel, finance and food crises that now beset us, and are, as said, undermining and displacing healthy food systems.** (C. Monteiro and G. Cannon)

**: A caveat: Working with the more forward looking progressive corporations –the ‘good ones’– is still risky.  In our experience, the corporations that are most criticized (and dangerous) tend to have the most highly developed public relations machinery. These corporations claim that their aims/purposes are indeed in line with those of UN agencies. The problem is made worse if these corporations are used as the ‘messengers’ for, for example, laudable WHO health messages, because then they so whitewash their reputation. Decisions about corporate privileges and roles should be based on what entities are rather than what they do.  What they do changes (and needs careful ongoing monitoring), but what they are tends to remain the same. (P. Rundall)

34. For these and so many other reasons, belatedly as it is, it is high time to develop concrete strategies to fight against these actions of TNCs. We acknowledge it is not easy with the overhanging danger of more and more repression. We cannot ignore that governments use their armed forces to do this –and even private armies are used by certain TNCs. (La Via Campesina)


[I ask: If all the material covered in these two Readers does not affect people’s HR, then what does? As the Mahatma used to say: First they ignore you, then they laugh about you, then they attack you and only at the end you win. (Will I ever see the latter phase materialize? Sure!)]


As a sort of epilogue

35. As HR workers, we are not anti-business; we are not anti-progress; we are not anti-government. We are for fair business and responsive government. We are against violence, against political and economic bullying and manipulation and we denounce ill-health, malnutrition and deaths as overwhelmingly preventable, as well as denouncing the flagrant violations of any HR. We are against the powers that are responsible for and condone these and that thus oppress and abuse people. We seek only justice, a caring body politic, to live with dignity since we have inalienable rights, important human rights, the right to speak out for our voice to be heard, the right to redress. We all are and should be critical and assertive about such deeply felt community aspirations; we must bring the same into a widely shared vision, into a joint mission and into a journey together. Therein lies the challenge. (A. Fazal)


Claudio Schuftan, Ho Chi Minh City