Integrating Human Rights in Financing For Development

Subtitle: 
Start Date: 
Monday, September 15, 2008 (All day)
End Date: 
Wednesday, September 17, 2008 (All day)
URL: 
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/IntegratingHRinFinancingDevelopment.aspx
Organizer: 
Location: 

OHCHR/COC/ESCR-Net Workshop
Venue: R1-01, OHCHR, 48 Avenue Giuseppe Motta, Geneva

Contact: 

INTEGRATING HUMAN RIGHTS IN FINANCING FOR DEVELOPMENT  (FFD)                                                                                                    
September 2008

Amid the present volatility and emerging crises in the world economy, human rights and development advocates around the world met at OHCHR in Geneva to discuss strategies for integrating human rights in financing for development (FFD).

FFD is essentially about how countries mobilize financial resources to provide basic services to their people, and how they allocate and manage their public resources. If a country was a car, FFD would be the gas on which it runs.

When heads of state met at the 2002 International Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey, Mexico, they adopted the Monterrey Consensus which affirmed that the goal of FFD “is to eradicate poverty, achieve sustainable economic growth and promote sustainable development as we advance to a fully inclusive and equitable global economic system.”

The workshop “Integrating Human Rights in Financing for Development” from 15 to 17 September, jointly organized by OHCHR and civil society groups Center of Concern and ESCR-Net, brought together experts and advocates from different regions to discuss a number of thematic areas covered by the Monterrey Consensus from a human rights perspective.

On external debt and human rights, international human rights law requires governments not be placed in a situation where they are forced to relegate provision of basic needs to their people, such as healthcare, education, food, safe drinking water and shelter, to a lower level of priority than servicing debt.

“However, there is no consensus on whether external (or foreign) debt should be considered a human rights issue despite the fact that excessive debt is a significant obstacle to sustainable human development and the realization of human rights in many developing countries,” according to Cephas Lumina, the Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights.

On the issue of trade and human rights, while “human rights are treated as exceptions subject to the trade regime’s logic,” a failure to address reform in agriculture on issues such as cotton may result in the violation of the right to life, said James Thuo Gathii, professor from Albany Law School, New York.

Speaking on the theme of systemic issues, “the right to development needs to be placed front and center in the FFD process,” said Vice Yu from South Centre, who called for an integrated assessment of all development challenges, such as migration, climate change, income gap, and financial resource outflows, faced by developing countries.

The workshop aimed to produce a substantive report and a set of recommendations in preparation for the Review Conference on Financing for Development, scheduled to be held in Doha, Qatar, from 29 November to 2 December 2008.


BACKGROUND NOTE
 

1.         Background and rationale

This workshop is organized by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in conjunction with the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Network (ESCR-Net) and the Center of Concern (CoC).The workshop has been planned against the backdrop of this year’s 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR) and the 15th Anniversary of the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna. At this conference, governments recognized and affirmed that “all human rights derive from the dignity and worth inherent in the human person, and that the human person is the central subject of human rights and fundamental freedoms…”, and noted that “the promotion and protection of human rights is a matter of priority for the international community”. The conference also reaffirmed “the right to development as established in the Declaration on the Right to Development, as a universal and inalienable right and an integral part of fundamental human rights.”

The International Conference on Financing for Development was held in 2002 in Monterrey, Mexico and led to the adoption of the Monterrey Consensus[1], an overarching document, regarding financing for development, in order to address the challenges of development, including the Millennium Development Goals, particularly in developing countries. The heads of State and Government, gathered in Monterrey affirmed that (the) “goal is to eradicate poverty, achieve sustainable economic growth and promote sustainable development as we advance to a fully inclusive and equitable global economic system”.

In Monterrey, the Financing for Development Conference brought together all development actors in an inclusive and multi-stakeholder process, under the auspices of the United Nations, with the purpose of holistically addressing all sources of finance, from the perspective of their contribution to development. The anniversaries of the UDHR and the World Conference in Vienna coincide with the Review Conference on Financing for Development, scheduled to be held in Doha, Qatar, from 29 November to 2 December 2008.

The Monterrey Consensus makes scant reference to human rights. Correlatively, human rights organizations in civil society rarely see Financing for Development as an avenue for advocacy. The Monterrey Consensus has meanwhile exerted a large agenda-setting power on institutions with economic policy-making capacity, such as the International Financial Institutions (IFIs), (e.g., the major items on the agenda of the IFIs since 2002 have come from mandates of the Monterrey Consensus) and its commitments are routinely quoted and reflected in major forums such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), World Trade Organization (WTO), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), or the G8. As the Monterrey conference sought to convene and build consensus among all stakeholders, beyond the UN, it possessed defining features that distinguished it from the United Nations (UN) conferences of the 1990s, including the World Conference in Vienna. Significantly, it was endorsed by all major institutional stakeholders on development.

Thus, the comprehensive Doha Review Conference, which addresses each source of financing for development, as well as their interrelationship, offers an opportunity to explore how a human rights perspective can enhance and be advanced through the realization of FFD commitments in respective sources of financing. 

The decision to hold the Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development to Review the Implementation of the Monterrey Consensus which will be held in Doha, Qatar, from 29 November to 2 December 2008 was in pursuance to the General Assembly resolution 62/187 of 19 December 2007. The resolution specified that the review conference should address progress made, reaffirm goals and commitments, share best practices and lessons learned. The conference should also identify obstacles and constraints encountered, actions and initiatives to overcome them and important measures for further implementation, as well as new challenges and emerging issues. As part of the work programme for the preparatory process for the Doha Review Conference, the General Assembly held six informal review sessions on the thematic areas of the Monterrey Consensus. In addition, UN regional commissions held regional consultations in preparation of the Doha Review Conference. These were followed by informal consultations on the contents of the outcome document (9 and 16 June 2008) and hearings of civil society and the business sector (18 June 2008).

Following these events, the President of the General Assembly issued informal summaries of the review sessions and circulated, on 28 July 2008, a draft outcome document of the Conference. The draft outcome document begins by reaffirming goals and commitments of the Monterrey Consensus. Paragraph 1 reiterates the resolve to address the challenges of financing for development in the spirit of global partnership and solidarity. The draft outcome document notes that mobilizing financial resources for development and the effective use of those resources are central for a global partnership for development in support of the achievement of the international agreed development goals (IADGs), including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The human rights framework can assist in reaching these development goals and collaborate to reinforcing the Monterrey Consensus. Human rights not only provide shared values but also define obligations of the States and international community in serving the cause of development. Human Rights instruments and mechanisms provide guidelines and monitoring systems for the fulfilment of the rights. Human rights form the core component of good governance, both at domestic and international levels.

2.         Objectives of the workshop

The workshop will promote focused discussions on human rights principles, standards, obligations and monitoring processes and the six Financing for Development thematic areas.  The six thematic areas covered in the consensus are 1) Mobilizing domestic financial resources for development 2) Mobilizing international resources for development: foreign direct investment and other private flows 3) International trade as an engine for development 4) Increasing international financial and technical cooperation 5) External debt 6) Addressing systemic issues: enhancing the coherence and consistency of the international monetary, financial and trading systems in support of development.

The key objective is to contribute to the formulation of concrete recommendations to operationalize human rights commitments, the right to development, and the relationship between human rights and development into the objectives of Financing for Development Review Conference and its follow-up process.

The convening of the workshop would allow OHCHR to contribute to advocacy efforts in the Doha preparatory process through articulating linkages between the FFD agenda and human rights, including the right to development in spite of a very limited role that OHCHR can play formally in the preparatory process which has been underway since February 2008. 

Other objectives include:

  • Contributing to building broad political consensus on the meaning of human rights approaches for the Financing for Development process.
  • Mobilizing and empowering human rights organizations to actively participate in the Financing for Development Review Conference.
  • Stimulating joint and collaborative work by civil society organizations addressing development and economic policy advocacy and those working on human rights.

3.         Issues to be covered during the meeting

Thematic areas: key issues to be covered

Mobilization of domestic resources

This session will focus on the role of human rights commitments to help create “an enabling domestic environment” for mobilizing domestic resources, and to have it “supported by the international community.” The discussion will address, among others, the relationship between the human rights framework and:

  • Defining the “appropriate role of government” in each country 
  • The implementation of “sound macroeconomic policies aimed at sustaining high rates of economic growth, full employment, poverty eradication”
  • Contributing to “equitable and efficient tax systems and administration”
  • Helping improve income distribution and raise productivity
  • Building up of labor resources and sustaining investment in basic economic and social infrastructure, social services and social protection, including education, health, nutrition, shelter and social security programmes.

Mobilization of international resources (Investment)

This session will focus on the role of human rights commitments in efforts to ensure that foreign direct investment contributes toward creating jobs and “ultimately eradicate poverty through economic growth and development.” The discussion will address, among others, the relationship between the human rights framework and:

  • The extent of promotion and protection of investments that can be provided (e.g., FDI stabilization clauses) and the “necessary conditions” to facilitate private investment flows
  • Shaping the policies and institutions that “allow businesses, both domestic and international, to operate efficiently and profitably and with maximum development impact.”
  • The conditions under which “private foreign investment in infrastructure development” should be supported.
  • Developing the framework for business to “engage as reliable and consistent partners in the development process.” (e.g., through the UN norms on business and human rights)

International Cooperation for Development

This session will focus on the role of human rights commitments to ensure ODA “plays an essential role as a complement to other sources of financing for development, especially in those countries with the least capacity to attract private direct investment.” The discussion will address, among others, the relationship between the human rights framework and:

  • A strengthened commitment to “a substantial increase in ODA and other resources” to help countries achieve the internationally agreed development goals and objectives.
  • Partnerships among donors and recipients are based on the recognition of national leadership and ownership of development plans.
  •  Making ODA more effective through improved “policies and development strategies, both nationally and internationally...” Consequences for the Paris Declaration and the ECOSOC Development Cooperation Forum.

International Trade

This session will focus on the role of human rights commitments to ensure “trade plays its full part in promoting economic growth, employment and development for all.”, including through placing the needs and interests of developing countries at the heart of the multilateral trading system. The discussion will address, among others, the relationship between the human rights framework and:

  • Efforts to enhance or establish appropriate institutions and policies to “benefit fully from trade”
  • Commitments to address “issues of particular concern to developing countries and countries with economies in transition in international trade to enhance their capacity to finance their development”
  • Problems faced by commodity-dependent countries
  • The promotion of sub-regional and regional integration among developing countries and countries with economies in transition
  • The nature and conditions of existing and offered “support for trade-related training, capacity and institution building and trade-supporting.”

Debt

This session will focus on the role of human rights commitments to ensure the reduction of indebtedness and that “debt relief can play a key role in liberating resources that can then be directed towards activities consistent with attaining sustainable growth and development.” The discussion will address, among others, the relationship between the human rights framework and:

  • Assessing the impacts of debt relief (or lack thereof) and reviewing debt sustainability programs and criteria with that in mind, as well as “assistance for external debt management and debt tracking.”
  • Ensuring debt relief strengthens the economic prospects and poverty reduction efforts of its beneficiary countries. “
  • The shared responsibility of debtors and creditors “for preventing and resolving unsustainable debt situations.”

Systemic Issues

This session will focus on the role of human rights commitments to “improve global economic governance” so as to meet “the Millennium Declaration development goals of sustained economic growth, poverty eradication and sustainable development.” The discussion will address, among others, the relationship between the human rights framework and:

  • Efforts to “strengthen the United Nations leadership role in promoting development.”
  • An improved “relationship between the United Nations and the World Trade Organization for development”
  • The reform of the international financial architecture which has an objective “to enhance financing for development and poverty eradication”
  • The role of the ILO’s ongoing work on social dimensions of globalization, and the gender perspective, into development policy.
  • Strengthened tax cooperation to facilitate the mobilization of public revenues for development.
  • Attempts to broaden and strengthen “ the participation of developing countries and countries with economies in transition in international economic decision-making”

4.         Outcomes of the meeting                                         

The main outcomes of the meeting are to reiterate the importance of human rights in development and to ensure that human rights standards and monitoring processes inform the Doha review conferences and the substantive issues covered within it. The meeting will seek to identify follow-up recommendations and suggestions on the six thematic areas and more broadly on the stock taking of the Monterrey Consensus.  The workshop could result in an outcome document which will contain a chapter-by-chapter summary of recommendations and key messages intended to offer an understanding of how a human rights-consistent vision could be fostered in implementation of the commitments in the respective chapter of the Monterrey Consensus. The outcome document will also suggest strategies for civil society organizations to mobilize around the workshop recommendations in the follow-up to the Doha Conference and in future processes. Consideration is given to publishing the outcome document as OHCHR’s special issues paper.

The relevant recommendations and suggestions will also be aimed to be used as substantive inputs into the informal consultations and drafting sessions on the outcome document of the Review Conference, from September to November 2008. 

Some expected by-products of the meeting are to:

  • Enlarge and diversify the base and expertise of civil society organizations involved in the Monterrey consensus follow-up.
  • Enlarge and diversify the base and expertise of civil society organizations involved in the UN human rights machinery.
  • Strengthen the analysis on human rights aspects of different mechanisms for financing development.
  • Advance the operationalization of human rights in development processes.
  • Build the capacity of human rights organizations to address the economic policy dimensions of their work

5.         Venue and format of the meeting

The two and a half day meeting will take place from 15 to 17 September 2008 at R1-01, OHCHR, 48 Avenue Guiseppe Motta, Geneva, Switzerland. It will follow a format of panel discussions, with short presentations followed by a general discussion. The second day will continue this format followed by a general discussion. By the end of Day 2, a summary will be made of the key issues that emerged from presentations and discussions. This will be discussed in the final session before closing the workshop.

A total of 30 participants are expected at the workshop, with approximately 18 speakers.


 

[1] Report of the International Conference on Financing for Development, Monterrey, Mexico, 18-22 March 2002 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.02.II.A.7), chap. I, resolution I, annex.