Activities on human rights for sustainable development governance during Rio+20

 Workshop on “The Need for a Rights Based Approach to Sustainable Development Governance”
Rio De Janeiro, Thursday 14 June 2012. From left to right: Gaston Meskens (The Centre for Ethics and Value Inquiry, University of Ghent, Belgium), Nathalie van Haren (Both ENDS; Netherlands), Uchita de Zoysa (CED; Sri Lanka), Paul Quintos (IBON International; Phillipines), Marcos Orellana (CIEL; US), Shamina de Gonzaga (WCPUN; US) (photo credits: UN Rio+20 conference photos)

My research is primarily concerned with a human rights approach to intellectual capacity building for sustainable development governance. As I believe that any philosophy that makes normative statements about the socio-political reality also needs to be brought towards and tested in that socio-political reality, I find it also important to explore and establish the link between academic normative philosophical research and deliberative discursive interaction with civil society in global policy processes such as those facillitated by the United Nations.

My vision on the meaning of human rights in relation to sustainable development governance is outlined in the Rights for Sustainability Treaty I was invited to draft (see below). My central argument is that the principles that underpin a human rights based approach to sustainable development governance relate to the possibility to protect, enable and stimulate the full intellectual potential of the human being for sustainable development governance. Sustainable development is a collective human responsibility that also implies specific individual human rights with regard to ‘knowing’, ‘expressing opinions’ and ‘decision making’. In other words, human rights for sustainable development are not only about combating poverty, political oppression and exploitation and providing equal access to basic needs (water, food, energy, health care and shelter) and justice, but also about having equal access to that kind of knowledge generation and decision making that recognises limits to knowing and plurality of opinions, and that aims to make sense of and give meaning to the world, ourselves and the issues at stake.

From out of that motivation, during the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro (Rio+20 – see the official website), I engaged in the following activities related to human rights:

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Presentation of the Rights for Sustainability Treaty
Wednesday 13 June 2012

In the context of the People’s Sustainability Treaties initiative (http://sustainabilitytreaties.org/), I wrote the draft for discussion in the NGO circles prior to the conference.

In the review with the broader civil society circle before Rio+20, no comments were made on the content of the text. There was only the suggestion to recall the rights related language from the original Rio Declaration also in this Treaty. The final version is thus the draft version completed with a list of human rights related principles extracted from the original Rio Declarations.

See the final version here: Peoples Sustainability Treaty on Rights for Sustainability -version June 2012

The Treaties were presented during a special side event at Rio+20. See the announcement and programme of this event >here<.

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Organisation of a side event on “The Need for a Rights Based Approach to Sustainable Development Governance”
Thursday 14 June 2012

On behalf of my organisation (the Centre for Ethics and Value Inquiry of the University of Ghent, Belgium) and in cooperation with 5 other organisations, I organised a side event on a rights based approach to sustainable development governance.

See the flyer here: Rio+20 Side Event – The need for a rights-based approach to sustainable development governance

The side event focused on the normative reference base for a human rights-based approach to sustainable development governance and made suggestions for required institutional settings and legislation. Normative considerations were enriched with critical policy analysis and intelligence drawn from the practices the contributing organisations are undertaking in their various action fields. These practices reach from grass-root level work with indigenous communities over policy and law related research and outreach to critical philosophy on global ethics (and back). The event staged six contributions and organised interactive discussion with participants on issues related to human equality and sustainable development.

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Dialogues Day at the Peoples Summit
Saturday 16 June 2012

See the flyer >here<.

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Reflection on the Equity Treaty drafting process
Saturday 16 June 2012

In the context of the People’s Sustainability Treaties initiative (http://sustainabilitytreaties.org/), I participated in the drafting of the Peoples Sustainability Treaty on Equity. The drafting process surfaced a number of deep philosophical issues on human culture and on our relation with nature and the future that have also practical (political, social, economic) implications. These issues are not new as they keep on inspiring discussion among humans since the emergence of modern civilisation. However, bringing them in relation with (and in the context of) sustainable development enables to approach them in a new meaningful way. I commented on this during the presentation of the Equity Treaty at the Rio+20 Peoples Summit for Social and Environmental Justice.

See the flyer of the event > here < .

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Meeting of The Widening Circle
Tuesday 19 June 2012

See the  announcement and programme of the event >here< .

One comment

  1. Thanks for this brilliant initiative,i am delighted to note the connection between the sustainable development and human right.

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