Vientiane, 7th June 2017
Opening remarks by EU Ambassador Mr Leo FABER at the seminar on: A Rights Based Approach to Development encompassing all human rights for EU development cooperation.
Dear colleagues and friends from the Government, European Embassies and International Organisations, the EU Delegations from the region and last not least from the Delegation in Vientiane.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure for me to be here and to open this seminar on the Rights Based Approach to Development.
In 2014, the Council of the EU concluded that the promotion of human rights, democracy, the rule of law on one side and inclusive and sustainable growth on the other side are two basic and mutually reinforcing pillars of the EU’s development policy. The Council also reaffirmed the EU's commitment to promote all human rights: civil, political, economic, social and cultural, in all areas of its external action without exception.
Last month, the Council adopted the European Consensus for Development which is the EU's response to the UN 2030 agenda for Development and it is structured around the 5 Ps: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership.
As for the Lao PDR we are delighted to note that it has built the SDGs in its National Socio-Economic Development Plan that goes until 2020.
SDGs are indivisible and they are equally valid and globally implementable for all countries. Each goal depends on the achievement of others. Let's take as an example ending child malnutrition to which the EU attaches great importance, particularly in Laos. This falls under SDG 2, but it can only be achieved if targets in health, SDG 3, and education, SDG 4 are properly addressed.
Universal human rights are on the other hand the foundation for the SDGs. Peace and security, sustainable development and human rights are the three pillars of the United Nations, and none of these can advance on its own. Like the SDGs, the three pillars are indivisible and mutually reinforcing. Lack of respect for human rights will create divisions, exacerbate inequalities, increase the risks to security and put a brake on development.
This is not me to say that, but the former UN SG Ban Ki-moon, when he visited Vientiane last year.
But I couldn't agree more. The EU stressed this point unequivocally at the last Round Table meeting, and we emphasized it again during the human rights dialogue in February, when we had a very open discussion on Laos' commitment under the UPR review and its international obligations. We need to look at human rights as common values, the only ones that we have all subscribed to on a global level. They should not be looked upon as a disruption, but as a reinforcement of development.
A Rights Based Approach (RBA) is therefore both the way and the destination to development.
The implementation of such an approach is based on the working principles of universality and indivisibility of human rights, inclusion and participation in decision-making processes; non-discrimination, equality and equity; transparency, accountability and the rule of law. This approach is at the heart of the new European Consensus for Development and is designed to ensure that no-one is left behind – the core aim of the SDGs.
The RBA goes beyond the traditional needs-based approach. The aim of development is the fulfilment of rights, in accordance with the SDGs. The aims is to understand and clarify what duty bearers need to respect, protect and fulfil terms of human rights, and what rights-holders need, so that they can know, exercise and claim their rights – all this with a view to identifying and addressing the root causes of poverty and social exclusion.
It is a common-sense approach, focused on improving the quality of project delivery, ensuring that development actions are rooted in a country’s international obligations and deliver tangible benefits to the target groups. For example, taking a RBA to a justice reform programme will focus on understanding the barriers faced by ordinary people in accessing justice, as well as the constraints confronting the duty bearers (such as the Judiciary) in delivering justice. The same could apply to other sectors, and we will work on practical examples during the training.
The RBA finally brings together the separate streams of development and human rights and represents today the most comprehensive and structured approach to achieving sustainable development according to the international consensus which the SDGs represent.
I hope that this training will familiarise us with the key elements of this fundamental approach to development planning and action, and that it will provide us all with the necessary tools to work together in achieving the SDGs and ensuring that no-one is left behind.
I wish you a very fruitful seminar.