Leaving No One Behind: Are We Succeeding?

Keynote remarks by Andrew Gilmour, Assistant Secretary General of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights,
High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, Plenary Session, 
Friday, 13 July 2018, 
United Nations, New York



Thank you.  It is an honour to speak at this event.

As you know, this is the first time that the HLPF has held a session on the central commitment of the 2030 Agenda to “leave no one behind”.  It is critically important to assess our progress.

That commitment of the SDGs to “leave no one behind” marks a momentous shift from the MDGs.  Along with the call for disaggregated data, it calls on us all to focus more on individual people and communities, and particularly those who are the most vulnerable and marginalized.  It requires a new way of working, to ensure that development works to the benefit of all, rather than just a few.  

Leaving no one behind is an affirmation of the principles that are central to human rights: equality and non-discrimination.  Indeed, the core aim of the SDGs, as agreed by all Member States in the 2030 Agenda, is to “realise the human rights of all”, to make our programmes people-centred.  

With both multilateralism and human rights taking such a pummelling at the moment, this core commitment of the SDGs seems a rare beacon of hope.  Along with today’s agreement on the Migration Compact.  

But are we succeeding?  Are we meeting this great pledge to leave no one behind?  

There has been incredible progress in some countries, regions and localities – some of which we have heard about in the plenary discussions this week.  And we will hear more during the Voluntary National Reports from Member States next week.

There are many good practices discussed in the thematic reviews during this HLPF of the goals important for sustainable and resilient societies.

However, according to the useful background paper (by the UN Committee for Development Policy) for this session, in overall terms, the answer is worryingly ‘Sorry, No’.  Actually, we are not on track for 2030.  We are falling behind in the required rate of progress.  

The problem is not just that some people are being ‘left’ behind, but that some people are being ‘pushed’ even further behind.  

Read the full text at https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=23382&LangID=E