porLiliana Azevedo
a 04 NOV 2013

À conversa com… Ignacio Saiz, Director Executivo do Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR)

A Revista da Plataforma entrevistou Ignacio Saiz, Director Executivo do Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR) sobre a Agenda Pós-2015. Publicamos aqui a entrevista na versão original. Pode encontrar a entrevista em Português na Revista da Plataforma Portuguesa das ONGD.

What is your assessment of MDG less than 2 years before the target date for its achievement?

The MDGs embodied an unprecedented international consensus that eradicating poverty, hunger and other preventable deprivations is an urgent and collective responsibility. While there is evidence that they have incentivized action in many countries, global progress in meeting the MDGs has been profoundly disappointing. Many of the goals – some of which were already relatively unambitious - will not be met by 2015. Even where progress has been made, this is not always attributable to MDG-related policies. For example, extreme poverty has been halved largely because of growth patterns in China and India in the 1990s that predate the MDGs. As the UN Secretary General has acknowledged, the MDG shortfalls have occurred not because the goals were too ambitious or because time was too short, but because of lack of will, inadequate commitment of resources and the absence of accountability at the national and international levels.

What lessons learned from the MDG should be incorporated in the Post-2015 Development Agenda?

From a human rights perspective, at least five lessons emerge. This time around, the new agenda must be truly universal, including firm, quantifiable commitments on high-income countries to create an enabling global environment for development, as well as to tackle deprivation in their own countries, many of which have seen rising poverty and social exclusion in the wake of the economic crisis. Secondly, the agenda must be better designed to tackle inequality – the MDG´s biggest blind-spot - and to dismantle the entrenched patterns of discrimination which underlie it, based on gender, disability, ethnicity, socio-economic status and other grounds. Thirdly, as the Arab Spring has demonstrated, issues of governance, including respect for civil and political freedoms, can no longer be left off the agenda if development is to be truly sustainable. Fourthly, the framework should advance the creation of universal social protection floors, in line with economic and social rights standards and ILO recommendations. Social protection systems are critical to tackle poverty and inequality, yet are being eroded as a result of the global austerity drive. Finally, the new framework must be buttressed by effective mechanisms of accountability, which hold all governments, international institutions and the private sector answerable to their common but differentiated responsibilities.  These are essential elements of a renewed development framework anchored in human rights, one that seeks the fulfillment of human dignity as a matter of justice, not charity. 

How should the link between the new Millennium Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals (resulting from Rio +20) be made?

While the MDG and SDG processes initially followed different tracks, the recent worldwide civil society consultations have called unequivocally for a unified and comprehensive set of goals which address poverty, social injustice and environmental degradation in an integrated manner as interrelated dimensions of sustainable development. Member states endorsed this vision at the September UN General Assembly, which recognized the intrinsic inter-linkage between poverty eradication and the promotion of sustainable development, underlining the need for a single, coherent framework.

CESR sustains that principles of accountability, anchored in the international human rights framework, should be integrated within the Post-2015 Agenda. Could you explain why?

Agreeing a limited set of common commitments for which all governments must respond - to each other and to their citizens – can potentially act as a powerful instrument of accountability. Yet accountability has been undermined under the current framework by the absence of clearly delineated responsibilities, the weakness of MDG monitoring and review mechanisms, and the ability of wealthier states to ignore the commitments made under Goal 8, which was framed in less precise and measurable terms than other goals. These accountability deficits have come to the fore since the global economic crisis.

Accountability can be reinforced under the post-2015 agenda by aligning its content with relevant international human rights standards, which can help clarify the specific responsibilities of all relevant duty bearers in relation to each goal. Human rights should also inform the process by which the goals are designed and implemented. Guarantees of freedom of expression, information, assembly and association are particularly crucial for accountability, making it possible for people to meaningfully participate in decision-making processes. The human rights framework also reinforces accountability by providing additional mechanisms through which people can claim their rights and hold institutions answerable, at both the national and international levels. It is vital that the future development commitments are backed by an effective infrastructure of accountability at all levels if they are to have a credible chance of being met this time around.  The world cannot afford another set of broken promises.