The Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights welcomes the Vienna + 20 Civil Society Organizations Declaration on the primacy of human rights. Over 140 members of civil society came together on the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action in order to move the human rights agenda forward. At the end of the conference, they adopted the Vienna + 20 CSO Declaration.
As FIAN rightly noted, “The Vienna+20 CSO Declaration stresses the primacy of human rights. Respect, protection and fulfilment of all human rights are the first responsibilities of states. Despite progress made in human rights protection, vested interests, in particular corporate interests, tend to prevail, even in multilateral fora and agreements. Especially economic, social and cultural rights still lack adequate forms of legal sanctions as compared to other legal regimes such as international commercial law.”
The CSO Declaration reaffirms that human rights take primacy, including in global and national development and financial frameworks. The Declaration addresses women’s human rights, extra-territorial human rights obligations, the need for human rights to be at the core of the post-2015 development framework, environmental justice, food sovereignty, the need for legally binding human rights obligations of transnational corporations and other business enterprises, and the human rights of marginalized groups, among other issues. The Declaration also calls for the establishment of a World Court of Human Rights as originally envisioned in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action of 1993.
CSO Representatives at Vienna + 20 CSO Conference
The Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights contributed in areas associated with its Strategic Priorities, namely women’s human rights, extra-territorial obligations, and the post-2015 development framework. According to Bret Thiele, Co-Executive Director of the GI-ESCR, “With the Vienna + 20 CSO Declaration, civil society has spoken clearly and with a concerted voice reaffirming the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, and reminded States that human rights must take primacy, including in the post-2015 development framework.” The Declaration was immediately sent to the State delegations at the Vienna + 20 conference.
The CSO Declaration will also guide and focus the work of the NGOs and CSOs at Vienna + 20 over the next several years and progress on implementing the Declaration will be monitored along the way. The CSO Declaration called for a Third World Conference on Human Rights in 2018 where the results of implementing the Declaration will be considered.
The CSO Declaration also influenced the Vienna + 20 Outcome Document, including in the area of human rights obligations of international financial institutions including extra-territorial obligations of Member States of IFIs.
Read the full CSO Declaration HERE.