Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
1. What decisions or new strategies has the governing body of your organization taken to guide the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs? Please provide a brief summary below, including the overarching vision of your governing body for the Decade of Action on the SDGs.
Under the leadership of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, OHCHR has further institutionalize three principal priorities in OHCHR’s core programming: 1) the promotion and protection of economic, social and cultural rights, 2) the implementation of the SDGs, and 3) prevention of human rights crises. OHCHR’s strategic approach focuses on linkages across the SDGs and sustaining peace, the indivisibility of human rights, and the value added and impact of the Office’s work on people’s daily lives. OHCHR has placed a specific emphasis on inequality, while contributing to the work on needed shifts to help expand civic space, counter climate change and broaden the global constituency for human rights. OHCHR is now well positioned to deliver on bringing human rights to sustainable development and to effectively align with the rest of the UN System on the Decade of Action on the SDGs.
2. At the secretariat level, what steps has your organization taken (or will it take) in the follow-up to the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs? Please specify actions, including but not limited to the following areas:
2.1 SDG-specific strategies, plans or work programmes;
OHCHR is delivering on the following core commitments to bring human rights to the center of sustainable development:
- Supporting Member States to ensure that human rights principles inform implementation of the 2030 Agenda, including empowering people and creating avenues for civil society participation, as well as taking human rights sensitive, non-discriminatory approaches to data collection, monitoring and reporting. OHCHR is committed to this approach as it is the surest way to bring the benefits of the ambitious and far-reaching agenda to all, leaving no one behind.
- Encouraging stakeholders to make full use of human rights mechanisms, including the Universal Periodic Review outcomes, the human rights treaty bodies and the special procedures, as well as national human rights institutions to contribute to SDG implementation, particularly at the national and local level.
- Continuing efforts to help design policies that support the most vulnerable and /or excluded groups, recognizing and responding to multiple and intersecting deprivations and sources of discrimination that limit opportunities and make it harder to escape poverty, live with dignity and enjoy human rights on a healthy planet.
2.2 Aligning the structure of the organization with the SDGs and the transformative features of the 2030 Agenda, including any challenges and lessons learned in doing so;
An internal OHCHR review took place by three principal task forces generating recommendations to reorient the work of the Office in the three priority areas of SDG implementation, prevention and ESCRs. The High Commissioner further launched a “Surge Initiative” and a 2030 Community of Practice to scale-up and cross-fertilize engagement in these three inter-linked areas of OHCHR’s work.
These initiatives have thus far resulted in greater coherence between HQ and field operations as well enhanced OHCHR’s substantive guidance on ESCR/Prevention/SDG analysis, programming and advocacy.
2.3 Readjusting or updating results-based budgeting and management, including performance indicators;
OHCHR has already aligned its OHCHR Performance Management System pillar results under its Office Management Programme (OMP) to the SDGs in order to effectively monitor and evaluate its programmes in relation to the SDG targets and indicators. This better positions OHCHR to conduct planning and monitoring/ evaluation of programming in light of the new UNSDCF’s alignment to the SDGs.
2.4 Action to enhance support to the principle of "leaving no one behind" and to integrated policy approaches;
Over the last years, OHCHR has played a seminal part in the integration of human rights into UN development policy and programmes that implement the SDGs, particularly through the development of the UNSDG Guide on Leaving No One Behind and Human Rights- Based Approach to Data. At the country level, OHCHR is contributing analysis to UN and government LNOB strategies as this provides an important vehicle for analysis and action countering discrimination and inequalities. OHCHR in Ethiopia has been approached to advise on the LNOB component of the national development plan. In Malawi, the Office has worked on a LNOB country assessment with UNDP; in Senegal OHCHR has advised the Government’s revision of the Leaving No One Behind strategy (LNOB), using the Universal Human Rights Index (UHRI) that now categorizes human rights recommendations by Sustainable Development goals and targets identifying those left behind.
2.5 Action to address the interlinkages across SDG goals and targets;
Given OHCHR’s specific strategic emphasis to counter inequality/discrimination OHCHR seeks to strengthen the interlinkages between the whole SDG framework as well as operationalize the LNOB principle. By working to influence guidance, mobilize related partnerships, OHCHR continues to compile and profile methodologies and good practice at the country level to generate measurable change, and increase understanding on how the SDGs are interlinked. Significant analytical and advocacy work have been carried out on SDG 10, 4, 5, 16, 13, including at the HLPF EGM and thematic reviews with respect to providing human rights analysis interlinking the SDGs.
3. What normative, analytical, technical assistance or capacity building activities is your organization providing to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs? Please provide a brief account of the activities you have organized or intend to undertake, including but not limited to the following areas:
3.1 Enhancing national implementation including by supporting the mainstreaming of the SDGs in development plans and policies or through national sustainable development plans/strategies;
OHCHR has taken steps to strengthen capacity, at Headquarters and in the field, to integrate human rights in planning, monitoring and implementing the SDGs. This involves the provision of tools and guidance for Resident Coordinators (RCs), UNCTs and Human Rights Advisors on the interlinkages between human rights and development at the regional and country levels, particularly as UNCTs are undertaking new rounds of work on CCAs and the new UNSDCF. OHCHR provides leadership and guidance in delivering human rights training to RCs and UNCTs adhering to a recently updated training package to be delivered in 2020 and beyond. The Office has also been instrumental in providing a practical guidance on how UN entities at country level can maximize the UPR recommendations to accelerate implementation of the SDGs.
3.2 Mainstreaming the SDGs in sectoral strategies, including specific SDG/target strategies;
OHCHR focuses on various strategic entry points and activities related to its added value to integrate human rights into SDG implementation within sectoral strategies. OHCHR’s partnerships with other UN agencies provides avenues for the implementation of specific goals and targets along with related ESCRs. For example: UN-Water on SDG6, UN-Habitat on SDG11, UNDP/UNODC on SDG 16, and UNEP- SDG 13. OHCHR has accelerated engagement on UN country analyses and development programs towards ensuring evidence driven approaches to leaving no one behind and countering structural barriers and factors of exclusion. Since August 2019, OHCHR has strengthen focus on sectoral analysis linking up economic and other types of inequalities with enjoyment of human rights. For instance, building on UPR and other HR mechanisms’ recommendations, the Office has worked on the impact of corruption and illicit financial flows on ‘maximum available resources’ (e.g. South Sudan), initiated new analysis and contributed to the new generation of Common Country Analyses (CCAs) and UN Cooperation Development Frameworks (e.g. South Africa, Ethiopia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Argentina, Liberia), with focus on public spending and human rights based budget analysis, assessing the human rights impact of economic reforms or reviewing the effects of austerity packages on vulnerable and disadvantaged sections of populations.
3.3 Supporting the strengthening of national institutions for more integrated solutions;
OHCHR engages in advocacy and support to governments, National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), National Statistical Offices, and civil society on integrating human rights in the implementation of the SDGs, including human rights mechanisms’ outcomes, good practices and messaging. This is also includes gathering evidence and sharing case studies on the effective implementation of the SDGs on the ground through a human rights-based approach.
3.4 Data and statistical capacity building;
As the official “custodian” for four SDG indicators, OHCHR continues to play a role in human rights data collection that are key to the SDGs, in its pioneering work on global indicators and positioning OHCHR assistance to support institutional collaboration between national statistical offices and NHRIs, and efforts to link up international reporting on realising human rights obligations and SDG as well as ESCR targets and indicators. OHCHR has continued in its efforts to promote a human rights-based approach to data at the country level, advocating for data disaggregation based on the prohibited grounds of discrimination. OHCHR is investing on improving the capacity of national institutions to collect, analyse and disaggregate data, move beyond the averages and understand better the discrimination, deprivation and inequalities faced by certain groups, keep track of core human rights obligations and the progressive realization of ESCRs, and apply more inclusive data life cycles. OHCHR will also continue to foster greater systematic institutional collaboration between NHRIs and national statistical offices, as we have done for instance in Kenya, Palestine, Uganda and Kosovo.
The work in Kenya includes working on census as a way to count invisible populations and influence inclusive SDG strategies.
OHCHR is strengthening cooperation with UNFPA and other parts of the UN system towards building disaggregated data sets which can support UN action towards countering discrimination and inequalities. By dedicating more resources to monitoring of unequal access to economic and social rights, there is a better evidence base in UN country advocacy and programs. For instance, OHCHR Mexico, has documented discrimination and inequalities affecting indigenous communities’ access to water (SDG6) and convened a dialogue with government institutions to advise on HR based approaches to administration of water. Similar work has been initiated in Kenya, with enhanced monitoring and disaggregation of SDG 6 data in the informal settlements in Nairobi.
3.5 Harnessing science, technology and innovation for the SDGs;
OHCHR encourages operational linkages between human rights recommendations and SDG goals and targets, utilising tools such as the Universal Human Rights Index which has been made easily available to Member States and other stakeholders on the internet.
3.6 Multi-stakeholder partnerships;
OHCHR is one of the facilitators of Global Alliance for Reporting on Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies which is one of the principal multi-stakeholder platforms for SDG 16+.
3.7 Bolstering local action and supporting sub-national plans/strategies and implementation for the SDGs;
OHCHR engages in advocacy and support to local governments, National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), and civil society on integrating human rights in the implementation of the SDGs, including human rights mechanisms’ outcomes, good practices and messaging. This is includes gathering evidence and sharing case studies on the effective implementation of the SDGs on the ground through a human rights-based approach.
OHCHR supports meaningful and effective participation in national/SDG development plans, including of groups left behind, as a prerequisite for more equitable and sustainable development, for realizing the Right to Development. Therefore, civil society organizations are valued partners to develop country diagnostics and solutions that benefit those most left behind. OHCHR engages in monitoring and country advocacy to empower excluded groups, widen participation, inclusion and respect of fundamental freedoms including peaceful assembly (SDG 16), all essential enablers to mobilize and advocate towards equal access to rights such as water and sanitation (SDG6), education (SDG4) and housing (SDG11). OHCHR also facilitates dialogue between government institutions and communities, providing bridges for grievances and recommendations to reach policy makers (e.g. Colombia – work with indigenous communities affected by mega infrastructure developments; DRC – plans to start joint monitoring with civil society to advise govt on free primary education, SDG4; Cambodia – examples of joint interventions with civil society organizations to prevent forced evictions, SDG11).
3.8 Leveraging interlinkages across SDG goals and targets;
OHCHR is strengthening partnerships with several UN agencies for the implementation of specific Goals and related ESCRs (e.g. UN- Water on SDG6, UN-Habitat on SDG11, UNDP/UNODC on SDG 16, and UNEP- SDG 13).
3.9 Supporting policies and strategies to leave no one behind;
OHCHR is assisting field presences to utilise the SDGs as a framework that can help them to facilitate human rights change especially on LNOB. The office is deploying specialized field capacity to strengthen work on ESCR/SDGs and link it to inequalities and prevention. OHCHR is expanding UN work on 'economic transformation' through the development and implementation of specific policies and tools that tackle economic and other types of inequalities (SDG10). OHCHR is also working to influence guidance, mobilize related partnerships, as well as operationalize the LNOB principle as well as compiling and profiling methodologies and good practice at the country level to generate measurable change, and increase understanding on how SDG 10 and SDG 16 is cross-cutting and linked to other parts of the 2030 Agenda and SDGs.
3.10 Supporting the mobilization of adequate and well-directed financing;
OHCHR has directed its field presences to work with UNCTs/RCOs on joint programming utilizing multi-partner trust funds and designated funds such as the SDG Fund and Peacebuilding Fund to help integrate human rights into the programming response of the UN at the national level.
3.11 Reducing disaster risk and building resilience;
OHCHR is providing advice and support towards UN country analyses and programming linking economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR), sustainable development and prevention under the Human Rights Up Front (HRUF) and early warning initiatives. OHCHR field offices are focused on human rights and SDGs/ESCR/prevention, with a focus on economic issues, including as underlying root causes of social protests. Amidst growing social protests across the world and deteriorating human rights, OHCHR has focused on human rights based economic analytical contents in support of UN country prevention strategies (e.g. Zimbabwe/unprecedented levels of food insecurity and deepening economic crisis; Ecuador, where the human rights advisor has supported the RC/UNCT intervention to address the increasingly fragile situation).
3.12 Supporting international cooperation and enhancing the global partnership;
Through its work in Washington DC, OHCHR has strengthened its focus on integrating human rights in DFI safeguard policies and public information policies, supporting the development by DFIs of reprisals policies and procedures, strengthening accountability mechanisms, developing guidance on accessing remedy in development finance, and supporting OHCHR’s field-level engagement on these issues.
Reinforcing OHCHR’s capacity to integrate human rights in SDG implementation and reporting through peer to peer learning and sustaining an OHCHR 2030 Community of Practice. The establishment of the 2030 Community of Practice has already strengthened OHCHR’s methods, instilling a collaborative dynamic and increase in the impact of the organization’s interventions. It has proved to be an essential component to a surge-capacity initiative (referred to in 2.2 above) , to stimulate and scale up work on ESCR and SDGs, address human rights violations growing out of economic inequalities and better appreciate the relationship of these three areas of work to the prevention of potential conflict and crisis – a key aim of OHCHR’s Prevention Strategy which aims to equip the Office to respond to the Secretary-General’s challenge to the Organization to focus more on prevention.
4. The high-level political forum (HLPF) is the central platform for the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. Has your organization participated in or supported the work of the HLPF? If yes, please specify your involvement in the following areas:
4.1 Supporting the intergovernmental body of your organization in contributing to the thematic review of the HLPF;
Yes. OHCHR has been actively engaged in and is supporting the work conducted under the HLPF, including its preparatory processes. The Office also supported the preparations for the SDG Summit convened under the auspices of the General Assembly in September 2019. OHCHR contributes to the thematic review of the HLPF through active participation in its preparatory processes as well as through contributing to other related processes, such as the expert meetings convened in April and December 2019 to discuss the impact, lessons learned and modalities of the HLPF.
4.2 Contributing to policy/background briefs for the HLPF;
OHCHR systematically contributes to the development of the policy/background briefs for the HLPF and facilitates the submission of official inputs to the HLPF from the UN Human Rights Council and UN Treaty Bodies, which aim to inform the preparations for and discussions at the HLPF.
4.3 Helping organize SDG-specific events in the preparatory process;
Over the years, OHCHR has actively engaged in the organization of several SDG-specific events as part of the HLPF preparatory process, most notably the expert meetings on SDG 10, SDG 13 and SDG 16. While not having the capacity to co-convene meetings, the Office systematically engages in their preparation by advising on expert speakers, human rights integration in the concept notes and the outcome report of the meeting, as well as active participation at the meetings themselves.
4.4 Organizing side events or speaking at the HLPF;
As of 2019, OHCHR’s Principal briefs the HLPF at its plenary session on the outcome of the Human Rights Council’s intersessional meeting for dialogue and cooperation on human rights and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. At the 2018 HLPF, the ASG for Human Rights was the keynote speaker at the thematic session on leaving no one behind. Several special procedures mandate holders have also addressed the HLPF over the years in their capacity of independent experts. Since 2016, OHCHR has co-organized over twenty events at the HLPF, including side events, learning events and VNR Labs.
4.5 Supporting the VNR process.
OHCHR has been increasingly engaging in and supporting the VNR processes, including at the national level. For the 2020 VNR countries, OHCHR prepared dedicated country documents for all 51 VNR countries to facilitate and encourage the integration of human rights information and analysis in the VNR reports. Relevant OHCHR tools, guidance and approaches are also featured in the 2020 VNR Knowledge Exchange Booklet. OHCHR contributes to capacity strengthening efforts for Member States that are preparing the VNR reviews and has been contributing to the organization of the VNR Labs at the HLPF, supporting sharing experiences and lessons learned from the VNR process.
5. How has your organization cooperated with other UN system organizations to achieve coherence and synergies in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs? In this regard, has your organization launched or intend to launch any joint programmes or projects in collaboration with other UN entities? Are there any results or lessons you would like to highlight that might help improve the design and impact of such efforts? Has your organization participated in any of the following coordination systemwide mechanisms or any other relevant platform - CEB, UNSDG, EC-ESA Plus, regional coordination meetings, UN-Energy, UN-Water, UN-Ocean, IAEG, IATT? Please specify which and indicate any suggestions you may have about improving collaborations within and across these mechanisms/platforms.
At the global level, OHCHR has strengthened its strategic UN partnerships, and built close relations with UNDP, DCO and DESA in order to continue our work in mainstreaming human rights in UN development processes (CCA, UNSDCF). OHCHR co-leads relevant inter-agency processes, including in the UNSDG and its working mechanisms to develop guidance on ‘leaving no one behind’ and has extensively engaged in the development of the new UNSDCF guidance and its companion pieces which will guide UN integrated analysis (CCAs) and programming at the country level along SDG targets and indicators. OHCHR’s leadership at the UN’s high-level policy making bodies (CEB Inequalities Framework/HLCP) is focusing on UN interagency work on inequalities.
At the regional and country levels, OHCHR has strengthened partnerships with several UN agencies on the implementation of specific Goals and related ESCRs (e.g. UNDP and UNODC on SDG16; UN-Water on SDG6, UN-Habitat on SDG11, UNEP on SDG13, UN Women on SDG5). Partnerships with DFIs and accountability mechanisms are also being strengthened. Partnerships with UN entities that will be prioritized in 2020 include a partnership with UNFPA regarding population data disaggregation/work on census; and a MOU and joint action plan with the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) to advance the right to a healthy environment and counter climate change.
OHCHR is reinforcing collaboration with the SDG Fund at the policy and project level (Bangladesh – project on female tea plantation workers and social protection; South Africa – one of the most unequal country in the world - a national social protection specialist will soon join the OHCHR RO to step up a review of social safety nets in support of UNCT programming; Madagascar – close cooperation with ILO, UNICEF, WFP and UNFPA towards strengthening the social protection system’s focus on extremely poor households - representing 52 percent of the population - and persons living with disabilities).
6. How has your organization engaged with stakeholder groups, both in supporting implementation at the country, regional and global levels, and within your own organization? If yes, please provide main highlights, including any lessons learned. If your organization has established any multi-stakeholder partnerships to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, please describe them and how their performances are being monitored and reviewed.
OHCHR has strengthened its stakeholder partnerships through engagement in regional fora for sustainable development, supporting engagement with Regional Commissions, contributing to PSGs, and at the national level, strengthening capacity of OHCHR, UNS, governments, civil society and other stakeholders. In addition, together with other UN agencies, OHCHR is one of the co-facilitators of Global Alliance for reporting on peaceful, just and inclusive societies which is one of the principal multi-stakeholder platforms for SDG 16+. OHCHR’s facilitator role with the Global Alliance enhanced the role of custodian UN entity charged with developing methodologies for monitoring a several indicators under SDG 16. These are indicators on conflict-related deaths, violence against journalists, associated media personnel, trade unionists and human rights advocates, existence of national human rights institutions and levels of discrimination. OHCHR’s initiatives integrating human rights in SDG 16 implementation position OHCHR well to be able to contribute strategically to the Global Alliance’s ongoing work. They also complement its four main objectives-- to assist stakeholders to demonstrate progress and results; mobilize actions to accelerate implementation; build the movement for peaceful, just and inclusive societies; and consolidate links to all SDGs.
7. Has your organization organized any conferences, forums or events designed to facilitate exchange of experience, peer and mutual learning in connection with the SDGs? If yes, please provide a brief summary, below and include lessons learned and gaps identified based on the outcomes of these events. Please also include any events you want to organize in the coming years.
Yes, OHCHR organized two HRC mandated inter-sessional meetings on HR and SDGs which underscored the mutual synergies between the two agendas at the policy and operational level. OHCHR intends to convene workshops on economics and human rights and to discuss methodologies, analysis to support economists in the field addressing human rights and macro-economic issues including concerning austerity measures, social protests.
8. Is there any other information you would like to share, including annual reports of your organization and any impact assessment or evaluation reports? If yes, please use the space below and attach the document(s). Please also use this space to provide any other information, comments or remarks you deem necessary.
Summary of the second intersessional meeting for dialogue and cooperation on human rights and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Right.
9. In your view, what should strategic directions look like for the UN system in support of the 2030 Agenda and SDGs in the Decade of Action? What key elements should they include and what major challenges should they address?
HR and SDG monitoring and reporting by Member States often follow separate and parallel tracks at the country level with the result that outcomes and recommendations from UN HR reviews are not integrated into reviews on SDGs progress. Bridging or creating interaction between these two processes is essential to enhance accountability on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and accelerate its implementation.
In the context of the ongoing HLPF modalities review, the UN has an opportunity to advise towards greater space for NHRIs and civil society. Both are fundamental partners to achieve the SDGs and should be provided with more space to advise on impactful strategies, monitor and report on SDG implementation.
The wealth of country analysis and recommendations from the UN HR mechanisms is often under-utilised in the design of SDG country measures and interventions. For instance, as the UN moves towards playing a greater role in economic analysis at the country level through the CCA, it will be important to ensure the UN’s added value (compared with other actors such as the IFIs). A key way to do this will be to emphasize the commitment to ‘leaving no one behind’, and ensure that the UN’s economic analysis is focused not on the aggregate benefits of economic development, but on identifying and a ‘disaggregated picture of which groups are enjoying the benefits of economic growth and which are bearing the costs, thus deepening understanding of why certain groups are left behind’ i.e. to identify the winners and losers of particular economic policy choices’.
It would also be important to take account of the existing obligations of Member States to ESCR, including the obligation to devote ‘the maximum available resources’ to the progressive realization of ESCR including in times of economic crisis and austerity. There are important guidelines that have been developed on the human rights impact assessments of economic reform policies that can help to ensure that the UN’s economic analysis and advice is strongly rooted in UN values, and avoids the risk of a breakdown of social cohesion.
10. Please suggest one or two endeavours or initiatives that the UN system organizations could undertake together to support the implementation of the SDGs between now and 2030.
OHCHR is committed to continuing a strategic direction framed around accelerating progress of the 2030 Agenda—ensuring a recommitment to the human rights basis of the Agenda and the interdependence between ESCR and CPR and the mutual reinforcement of the SDGs and the Human Rights mechanisms. OHCHR’s focus on eliminating discrimination and inequality, means that acceleration does not happen at the expense of those already most vulnerable and supports Member States to demonstrate progress under the Agenda by achieving sustainable long-term impact. Initiatives that could be undertaken together might include:
- Working in a unified and cohesive manner together bringing the Decade of Action and Delivery for sustainable development closer to the SG’s Human Rights Call to Action in all its component areas, particularly, Sustainable Development and the SDGs.
- Work in a cohesive manner to ensure that the UN makes fuller use of its human rights tools and entry points, including the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), as a basis for meeting the challenges, opportunities, and needs of the 21st century and for implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
- Work in a unified manner at UNCT-level to effectively base planning, policies and development processes in rights and corresponding obligations established by international law. For the Cooperation Frameworks to be strategic and responsive to country’s priorities, they should rely on robust and comprehensive human rights analyses as well as country-defined and disaggregated baselines.
- Work to ensure that DFIs that are investing in fragile and conflict-affected states and are developing second-generation social and environmental safeguard policies and independent accountability mechanisms, do not harm people via development projects and leave them without remedy.
- Work together to step up efforts to counter growing inequalities, support government measures towards economic transformation that leave no one behind (LNOB), counter the climate crisis and protect people and the planet.