Agenda 2030: What Role for Human Rights?

In September 2015, leaders from 193 countries gathered in New York under the auspices of the UN to adopt a transformative development agenda. The so called Agenda 2030 is articulated along 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) covering the period 2016- 2030.

Envisioning structural transformation and social reform, the Agenda 2030 places democracy, good governance and the rule of law at the centre of its roadmap. The emphasis on democracy and social justice brings the promotion and protection of human rights to the fore, calling on efforts to strengthen institutional capacities in areas of governance and human rights as a key priority for post 2015 global development. But how exactly does the SDG Agenda incorporate the Human Rights framework? Which Role do Human Rights play – particularly in relation to the universal nature of the new goals?

Amongst the many contributors to the shaping up of a new post 2015 development narrative, a key role lies with Academia – educating students as future decision makers in setting the course for a new sustainable development path, acting as a new conduit among different actors, and a leader in promoting the effective mainstreaming of issues such as governance and human rights across different disciplines. However, Universities and their teaching methods are still very much linked to sectoral approaches while particularly the 2030 Agenda demands interdisciplinary cooperation in both research and teaching for finding comprehensive political answers to current and future global challenges.
The key question is how academia can best contribute to mainstreaming a human rights approach in new global development thinking and which changes would universities need to undergo in other to better enhance interdisciplinary and human rights based teaching across disciplines.

It is in this context that the Heinrich-Böll-Foundation and Misereor are inviting to a policy-research dialogue among representatives from government, academia, NGOs and the private sector to discuss the role of research and academic institutions in Agenda 2030 with particular emphasis on human rights mainstreamed within it.

The meeting will bring together national and international experts looking at best avenues to effectively introduce human rights thinking in the education of future decision makers. It will aim at getting experts’ insights on the current status, challenges and opportunities of mainstreaming human rights in higher education.