“Sustainable Development Goals and Human Rights” conference held in Bonn

“Do human rights contribute to economic growth or the other way around,” Hans-Otto Sano, Danish Institute for Human Rights.

This was among the questions that were addressed during the “Sustainable Development Goals and Human Rights” conference held from 6-7 of June 2017 at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in Bonn, Germany. The conference, which brought together speakers from a variety of disciplines including law, health, gender issues and politics, was organised by BMZ in collaboration with the Institute for Development Research and Development Policy (IEE), Ruhr-University Bochum, and the Centre for Human Rights Erlangen-Nuremberg (CHREN). In her opening speech, Ingrid-Gabriela Hoven, director general on global issues sector policies and programmes at BMZ, welcomed the attendees and emphasised the importance of such conferences because they provide the platform to discuss, among others, how the agenda 2030 can be realized.

In line with the title of the conference, different SDGs were discussed from the human rights perspective. The speakers addressed topics comprising global health protection; gender equality and empowerment of women and girls, eradicating poverty, political instability as an obstacle to implementation of SDGs and impacts of climate change on the protection of human rights. Surya Deva, an associate professor at the school of law at City University in Hong Kong, was adamant that there should be more action, not just talking. “We talk about human rights all the time but we don’t take them seriously. Current globalisation allows easy movement of goods and services, but not of people. Human rights should be a non negotiable condition of doing business,” explained Deya.

Professor Alan Boyle, a specialist in international environmental law, thought the conference was important because it explored environmental changes and human rights. On the other hand, Dr Delanyo Dovlo, the director of Health Systems and Services Cluster in the World Health Organisation Regional Office for Africa, explained the importance of health as a basic human right: “All people should have access to health facilities. This conference is important because within the SDGs, health is featured. Part of the discussion during the conference is that in order to get the health SDG going, we need to address human rights,” said Dr Dovlo. With regards to gender equality and empowerment of women and girls, according to Dr Josephine Odera, a director at the Africa Centre for Transformative and Inclusive Leadership, there is still discrimination in the labour market. In Sub-Saharan Africa for example, there is high unemployment rate of women. Furthermore, Dr Odera pointed out that there is only 22% global representation of women in parliament.

There was also a second reception that was held at the old town hall in the city where the mayor of Bonn, Ashok-Alexander Sridharan, welcomed the attendees and lauded them for being part of the conference. In closing Markus Krajewski from CHREN thanked the participants for attending the conference.

Author: Nteboheng Phakisi