Decent Work, Human Rights and the Sustainable Development Goals
57 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2015 Last revised: 16 May 2016
Date Written: June 3, 2015
In September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly will adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will guide international development policy and practice for a fifteen-year period from 2015 to 2030. The SDGs are critically important as most international development efforts over those fifteen years – including those of donors, major development institutions, national governments and civil society – will likely be directed toward achieving these goals. The SDGs follow on the heels of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which have guided international development from 2000 to 2015. An extensive global public consultation has been underway for three years leading up to the UN General Assembly meeting planned for September 2015 that will finalize the new SDGs and targets. Much of the SDG discussion builds upon the lessons learned from the MDG experience, addressing both the achievements and the criticisms. This article uses a human rights lens to reflect back over the successes and shortcomings of the MDG framework generally, and then examines in particular the target and indicators on full employment and decent work for all. Against this background, the article considers whether the decent work goal, targets and indicators proposed for the post-2015 framework truly integrate human rights and ILO standards into the international development agenda in a way that is consistent with the international legal obligations of the States parties.
Keywords: decent work, human rights, sustainable development goals
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