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June 14, 2023

Attention: Permanent Representatives

Of United Nation Missions in New York.

Re: Embracing all human rights in the Pact for the Future

Dear Ambassador,

We are writing to you today about this year’s Summit of the Future and the negotiations on the Pact for the Future, which are taking place at a time of serious global crises and deepening geopolitical divisions. We at Human Rights Watch hope the Pact for the Future can help United Nations member states bridge these divides, including by strengthening their commitment to human rights in a way that leads to a more equitable and secure world.

It is critical for  the Pact to include  a comprehensive vision of human rights that, in the view of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk, fully embraces all human rights. Such a holistic approach to human rights would offer a framework for reforms that address the root causes of economic injustice and remove barriers to equality by giving greater attention to economic, social and cultural rights, as well as the right to development and the right to a healthy environment.

Those actions to support human rights  are just as important as the  following human rights priorities: reversing the trend of shrinking space for civil society; strengthening early warning systems to help prevent widespread abuses and violations of international humanitarian law; ensuring that environmental action, including on climate change, is grounded in human rights; ending discrimination; ensuring accountability for violations of international law; protecting human rights defenders; and strengthening the UN’s overall human rights architecture.

There are important messages for UN member states in the draft Pact. The language on sustainable development and on international governance reform, in particular requiring attention to indicators that go beyond gross domestic product (GDP) and on international financial architecture reform, have the potential to offer UN member states concrete guidance on tackling the environmental and inequality crises. 

While there is helpful language on other issues in the draft Pact, there is room for improvement in the next revision. In addition to clearly stating that international human rights law should be a guiding principle for the entire Pact, member states should call for aligning economies and the international financial architecture with human rights and offer guidance on how to do that. The Pact should reference a framework for realizing this approach developed by a wide range of human rights experts, particularly in the Global South. The Pact should also explicitly mention the right to a healthy environment and restore references to the phaseout of fossil fuels through a just transition that is consistent with human rights.

We offer additional details and suggestions in the attached annex to this letter. 

Should you wish to discuss our suggestions for the Pact for the Future with me and my colleagues at Human Rights Watch, please do not hesitate to reach out.

Best regards,      


Louis Charbonneau  

United Nations Director                                    


Sylvain Aubry

Deputy Director on Poverty & Inequality                                          

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