A woman with mobility impairments uses a hand-crank bicycle to move around her village. After 20 years of displacement and war in northern Uganda, women with disabilities - physical, sensory, mental and intellectual - face an even more complex and grueling process of return and relocation than their neighbors. They experience stigma and sexual violence and are often denied access to health care and justice.

© 2010 Martina Bacigalupo para Human Rights Watch

(New York) – The United Nations Post-2015 Development Agenda should be grounded in human rights, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to the UN High Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

The panel, established to take forward the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG), which expires in 2015, will meet in Bali, Indonesia from March 25 to 27, 2013. It will be the panel’s final meeting before submitting its recommended framework to the secretary-general in May.

“While the Millennium Development Goals had enormous positive impact, they also failed millions by focusing only on the achievements of whole populations,” said Jan Egeland, Europe director and deputy executive director at Human Rights Watch. “The new framework needs to shine a light on the forgotten bystanders – those left behind through discrimination based on race, class, or gender.”

Drawing on its research in various parts of the world, from the Horn of Africa to South Asia, Human Rights Watch urged the panel to apply the hard-won lessons from the Millennium Development Goals process. The letter urged the panel to ensure that a Post-2015 Development Agenda:

  • Measures advancement of the full range of human rights, not just economic growth;
  • Stresses that inclusive development is key to ensuring that development progress benefits populations experiencing marginalization and discrimination – women, ethnic and religious minorities, and people with disabilities, among others;
  • Emphasizes the importance of accountability for abuse and in the use of government funds;
  • Requires participatory, rights-respecting development to enable citizen ownership and protect against human rights violations inflicted in the name of development; requires corporate responsibility and accountability; and
  • Includes international mechanisms for accountability and redress.

Participants in the Bali meeting should move beyond generalized discussions to implementing a human rights-based framework built on concrete goals, targets, and indicators, Human Rights Watch said.

“Our work around the world reveals the dire consequences of development that ignores human rights,” Egeland said. “The panel should recognize that rights and development are inextricably linked.”