IEE Newsletter No. 25

News: International Conference on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Human Rights

Through the involvement of IEE Director Markus Kaltenborn, the IEE was one of the institutions convening an international conference on the interface between the SDGs and human rights in Bonn. Johannes Norpoth shares impressions from the event.

Following a deliberative process involving 193 states and global civil society organisations, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in 2015 adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including 17 Global Goals commonly referred to as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These 17 Goals and their 169 specifying targets seek to direct the policies of the international community in a similar manner as the Millennium Development Goals, which they succeed.

2017 03 TheGlobalGoalsSince the Millennium Development Goals had received severe criticism from a human rights perspective, the joint conference organizers--the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the IEE represented by Markus Kaltenborn, and the Centre for Human Rights Erlangen-Nürnberg (CHREN) from the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg–considered it timely to clarify whether initial experiences with the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals indicate a change of direction in this regard.

Against the backdrop of this aim, the conference brought together both international practitioners and academics from the development cooperation and the human rights community for two days on 6 and 7 June 2017 on the premises of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development in Bonn. The more than 130 guests were able to draw inspirations from the speeches and presentations of a number of prominent experts.

After the opening and welcoming addresses by Ingrid-Gabriela Hoven from the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and Jürgen Hein from the State Chancellary of North-Rhine Westphalia, UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights and Law Professor from New York University Philip Alston held the keynote speech which addressed the critical question: “Do Human Rights Really Fit into the SDG Agenda?”. The keynote speech set the tone for the subsequent panel sessions covering diverse topics, such as eradicating extreme poverty and providing decent living conditions for all people, global health protection, gender equality, social equality and adequate working conditions, the securitization of sustainable development, climate change and human rights, and the role of private actors and the international community in implementing the new development agenda.

The speakers in these panel sessions comprised representatives from specialized academic institutes, such as the Danish Institute for Human Rights, the German Institute for Human Rights, the German Development Institute, university professors and scholars from Oxford University, University of Edinburgh, the University of Hong Kong, University of Antwerp, University of Kassel, Germany, and Tel Aviv University, as well as practitioners from the European Union and the World Health Organization and civil society organizations, such as Lawyers Collective, New Delhi, the Africa Centre for Transformative & Inclusive Leadership, and the Global Policy Forum, Bonn. IEE Director Markus Kaltenborn, IEE alumna and currently Professor at the University of Applied Sciences Bonn-Rhein Sieg Katja Bender, Heike Kuhn from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, IEE Managing Director Wilhelm Löwenstein, Michael Krennerich and Markus Krajewski from the CHREN, and Nicholle Koko Warner from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat moderated the sessions.

Coffee and lunch breaks between the sessions as well as the reception in the old town hall of the city of Bonn and the conference dinner allowed panelists and other participants to continue the exchange and lively discussion during the sessions. Hence, one of the aims of the conference organizers – to fuel debate and exchange between the development and human rights community – was definitely achieved. In this regard, IEE Director Markus Kaltenborn and the other conference organizers are thankful for the financial support for the conference received by the Minister for Federal Affairs, Europe and the Media of North Rhine-Westphalia and the Head of the State Chancellary of North Rhine-Westphalia.

NorpothJohannes Norpoth
Research Fellow
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Phone: +49 (0)234 / 32-19025
Fax: +49 (0)234 / 32-14294

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