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Leadership Meeting on Addressing Inequalities in the Post-2015 Development Agenda

At the Leadership Meeting on Addressing Inequalities in the Post-2015 Developement Agenda held in Copenhagen on 19 February 2013, Christian Friis Bach, Minister of Development Cooperation of Denmark, made the following speech.

 

(Check against delivery)

Your Royal Highness, Excellences, ladies and gentlemen,

Inequality, like poverty, has many faces. A woman being raped, a child dying from starvation, and a worker trapped in a burning factory are all stark images of people experiencing violations of their human rights. Human rights, such as the right to physical security, to be free from hunger and to decent work are universal.  Inequality is an unacceptable denial of these rights.

I am therefore truly pleased to see so many colleagues and friends here today to discuss inequalities and the challenge they constitute to the global development agenda beyond 2015. I am also honoured that her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary, herself a member of the High-Level Task Force for ICPD, is here to observe this important event. Thank you for your strong and inspiring statement yesterday.

The need to address inequalities is not new. On the contrary, people experiencing inequalities have looked for ways to express their discontent – from the French revolution to the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa and more recently during the Arab Spring.   Often, human rights failures are the structural causes of inequality that leads to such discontent.

Fighting inequalities matter not only to the bottom billion, but to all of us. Because equitable societies with accountable and transparent political systems promote the formation of human and social capital, social cohesion and stability, it spurs investments, innovation and economic growth. It brings with it a more stable global economy and, a more secure world.

Haven speaken enough already yesterday, I will briefly address three key issues.

First that we need to go to zero and – by doing so – build on the fundamental human rights and the core principle of universality. Some have argued that the current Millennium Development Goals contradict the core human rights by only halving the share of people without access to food. Even if we were to reach all the MDGs by 2015, close to one billion people would still suffer from poverty and hunger. That is simply not good enough.

By going to zero we can create the necessary link to the core human rights. The right too food being operationalized by universal access to food security. The right too education turning into universal access to quality education
The right to water turned into a goal for universal access to clean water. The right to basic health services turning into a goal for universal access to health services including reproductive health. And the human rigths principles of anti-discrimination must be turned into a strong goal for equality – with a special emphasis on gender equality and sexual and reproductive rights. And this principle must be there as a separate goal and a strong cross cutting principle.

Secondly we must also adopt a human rights-based approach to development and the core principles that underpin the international human rights framework; namely participation, accountability and transparency. Wherever I go, however I meet – from the nobel peace price winners Aun San Suu Kyi in Myanmar, Tarwakkul Karman in Yeman to the human rights activist  whom I  both met last year – I am reminded that a new development framework, most importantly, should contribute to building an enabling environment at the country level, where people themselves are empowered. When citizens and civil society organisations stand up for their rights and demand change, real development occurs.

Finally, a new development framework should address the situation of fragile states and recognize that peace, security and development are interconnected. The complex situation in fragile states represents perhaps the greatest challenge in getting to zero. No low-income, fragile state has reached a single MDG.

There will be no development without peace, no peace without development.

Without doubt, a new development framework therefore has to take a comprehensive and integrated approach to fragile states. In practice, this could be done by building on the New Deal for engagement in fragile states including the Peacebuilding and Statebuilding Goals - with their comprehensive approach to security, justice, social improvements, legitimate politics and economic progress.

These could be strong messages from this dialogue. There are other core issues to tackle – jobs, energy, biodiversity – in what I hope will become one set of sustainable development goals. There is a long way to go. But I feel and sense optimism and engagement. We can agree on a new set of goals. And more importantly- the can unite the world in a strong effort to eradicate extreme poverty, promote sustainable development and ensure all people the right to a better life.

Thank you.