·Sur Journal – Abstract

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Combating Exclusion: Why Human Rights Are Essential for the MDGs

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) represent a global consensus on the need to tackle poverty. While the MDGs have played an important role in focusing international attention on issues of development and poverty reduction, this article argues that the MDGs do not fully reflect the ambition of the Millennium Declaration, which promised to strive for the protection and promotion of all human rights – civil, cultural, economic, social and political – for all.

This article outlines some of the aspects in which the MDG framework, while covering areas where states have clear obligations under international human rights law such as food, education and health, fails to reflect these standards. It focuses on three main issues – gender equality (Goal 3), maternal health (Goal 5) and slums (Goal 7) – as illustrative examples of the gaps between MDG commitments and human rights standards. It argues that this gap is also one of the main factors behind the lack of equitable progress on the MDGs. The article stresses the importance of ensuring that all efforts towards all the MDGs are fully consistent with human rights standards, and that non-discrimination, gender equality, participation and accountability are at the heart of all efforts to tackle poverty and exclusion.

Original in English.

Submitted in July 2010. Accepted in July 2010.