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22 HR Experts Urge Rio+ 20 Accountability

Twenty-two UN human rights mandate holders have issued an open letter to governments meeting at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (the Rio+ 20 Summit), 20–22 June 2012. They point out the risks that commitments made at Rio will remain empty promises without effective monitoring and accountability. The experts make three proposals to ensure the endurance and integrity of States’ commitments taken at the Summit.


As a matter of principle and State obligation, the experts advise that the conference (1) frame Rio+20 in all human rights, which has not yet been done in the current draft of the Rio+ 20 outcome document. Consistent with human rights and democratic process, the letter urges governments (2) to ensure that commitments and measures of success are defined in a participatory way. Pointing out further shortcomings in the current process, the experts echo the call from civil society and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (3) to establish credible accountability mechanisms for Rio+20 commitments.


While the experts support the proposal to establish a Sustainable Development Council to monitor progress toward the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be agreed by 2015, they propose both participatory national and international monitoring. They advise the governments meeting at Rio base that mechanism on the Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council, which was inaugurated in 2007 to provide a peer review of the human rights records of all 193 Member States of the United Nations. The experts concur that, for the Summit to be meaningful, it should put accountability, the foundation of a human rights-based approach to development, at the core of its commitments.


Original open letter

Source HIC-HLRN/OHCHR (26 March 2012)


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