Human Rights at Risk at the UN–on the Road to the Rio+20 Summit

Note: Unfortunately, those of us at GJEP who have been working with UN bodies including the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, the UN Climate Convention and the UN Forum on Forests, are not at all surprised by the attempt by the UN to eliminate human rights to food and water from the draft text for the upcoming UN Rio+20 summit in June.  After all, the UN is run by corporations and their greedy henchmen, just as much as governments are.  Since 2004 we have watched the steady decline of civil society’s ability to participate in these UN fora, while at the same time seeing doors open wide to the profit-makers.  This is yet one more example of why we need a peoples’ process–a truly democratic forum that enables communities to come up with real solutions to the crises we face–and kick these corporate SOBs out of the process and right onto their A##.

–Anne Petermann, for the GJEP Team

We – civil society organizations and social movements attending the call of the UN General Assembly to participate in the Rio+20 process – feel that is our duty to call the attention of relevant authorities and citizens of the World to a situation that severely threatens the rights of people and undermines the relevance of the United Nations.

Remarkably, we are witnessing an attempt by a few countries to weaken, or “bracket” or outright eliminate nearly all references to human rights obligations and equity principles in the text, “The Future We Want”, for the outcome of Rio+20.

This includes references to the Right to Food and proper nutrition, the Right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation, the Right to Development and others.  The Rights to a clean and healthy environment, which is essential to the realization of fundamental human rights, remains weak in the text.  Even principles already agreed upon in Rio in 1992 are being bracketed – the Polluter Pays Principle, Precautionary Principle, Common But Differentiated Responsibility (CBDR).

Many member states are opposing prescriptive language that commits governments to actually do what they claim to support in principle. On the other hand, there is a strong push for private sector investments and initiatives to fill in the gap left by the public sector.

Although economic tools are essential to implement and mainstream the decisions aiming for sustainability, social justice and peace, a private economy rationale should not prevail over the fulfillment of human needs and the respect of planetary boundaries. Therefore a strong institutional framework and regulation is needed. Weakly regulated markets already proved to be a threat not only to people and nature, but to economy itself, and to nation states.. The economy must work for people, not people work for markets.

From the ashes of World War II humanity gathered to build institutions aiming to build peace and prosperity for all, avoiding further suffering and destruction. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights spells out this collective will, and the United Nations organization was created to make it a reality. Outrageously, this very institution is now being used to attack the very rights it should safeguard, leaving people at the mercy of ?? and putting the very relevance of UN at stake.

We urge member states to bring back the Rio+20 negotiations on track to deliver the people’s legitimate agenda, the realization of rights, democracy and sustainability.

We call on the UN Secretary General to stand up for the legacy of the United Nations by ensuring that Rio+20 builds on the multi-generational effort for rights as the foundation of peace and prosperity.

We urge our fellow citizens of the world to stand up for the future we want, and let their voices be heard.  For that the Rio+20 process should be improved following the proposals we submit below.

On Greater participation for Major Groups

We are concerned by the continuing exclusion of Major Groups from the formal negotiating process of the Rio+20 zero draft.  Unlike in the Preparatory Committee Meetings and the Intersessional Meetings, Major Groups and other Stakeholders have not been allowed to present revisions or make statements on the floor of the meeting.  Nor, we suspect will we be allowed to make submissions or participate fully in the working negotiation group meetings that are likely to follow.  Despite the UN NGLS having compiled a text that shows all the revisions suggested by Major Groups, these revisions to the zero draft have so far not been included in the official negotiating text.

We request that the Major Groups be given the opportunity to submit suggestions and wording which would then be added to the official text for consideration, indication of support or deletion, and potential inclusion by governments.

We appeal to the UNCSD Secretary General to urgently reverse this state of affairs and to ensure that Major Groups have a seat at the table and a voice in the room where the negotiations are taking place.  Please ensure that at the very least, Major Groups are allowed a formal statement at the commencement of the next negotiating session and at every session where a new draft text is introduced.”

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Corporate Globalization, Food Sovereignty, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Posts from Anne Petermann, Rio+20, Water

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