When the United Nations adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) during its 70th General Assembly in New York in September 2015, it called for an inclusive and sustained global engagement involving governments, human rights institutions, civil cociety, the private sector, among other actors, to support its implementation.
It is generally held that since 92 per cent of SDGs indicators cover key human rights obligations, national human rights bodies’ involvement would bring about efficiency in delivering the set targets.
This explains why the two-day 11th Biennial Conference of the Network of African National Human Rights Institutions (NHRI), in Kigali, is expected to come up with mechanisms to push African governments to implement Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.
Rwanda National Commission for Human Right (NCHR) executive secretary, Madeleine Nirere, who was also voted in as the new chairperson of the network’s steering committee, said national human rights institutions must work to ensure that governments fulfill their role in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and Africa Agenda 2063.
Through Agenda 2063, the Heads of State and Government of the African Union laid down the vision for the ‘Africa we want’ in May 2013. They committed that by 2063, African countries will be among the best performers in global quality of life indicators.
The two blueprints, according to Nirere, seek to accelerate the implementation of global, continental initiatives for growth and sustainable development, eliminate poverty, reduce inequality and promote economic growth.
“As duty holds, states are the main implementers of both agendas, which reaffirms the respect for civil, political, socio-economic and cultural rights. Their duty to fulfill, respect and protect those rights is exercised through different policies, programmes and plans which nowadays must be result-based and be guided by a human rights based approach,” Nirere said.
Florence Simbiri Jaoko, the special envoy for the Global Alliance for National Human Rights Institutions, while speaking to reporters, reiterated Nirere’s sentiments that national human rights bodies have to actively participate in the conception and adoption of those policies and programmes in order to ensure the mainstreaming of human rights within the spirit of not leaving anyone behind.
For citizens’ rights to reach all categories of people, Simbiri noted, requires a tripartite collaboration between governments, civil society and NHRIs in order to achieve all 17 goals and 169 targets of the SDGs and commitments under Agenda 2063.
“Basically, the follow-up will be done at internal level and also be pushed up by the universal periodic review at the international level and AU and UN treaty bodies where deemed necessary,” Nirere added.
Justice minister Johnston Busingye, while officiating at the opening of the conference, said the role of human rights institutions is particularly urgent for Africa “because many of our people are still in poverty, yet they can be pulled out of it if the will to act is there.”
‘Governments have to embed good governance and inclusion in policy execution and implementation if we are to deliver on the SDG’s. Inclusive and people-centered development, economic transformation, self-reliance, stability and dignity for all Rwandans and Africans (are all essential),” Busingye added.
He noted that the global development agenda is “challenging,” hence requiring serious reflections on collective implementation aspirations.
“The modest progress Rwanda has made towards attaining all the Millennium Development Goals humbles us into training our sights on the achievement of all of them,” he added.
Experts say that major challenges that need to be addressed to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in Africa include governance, financial stability, peace inclusion and accountability.