SDGs & Human Rights must go hand in hand: Young people learn & appreciate the Human Rights-based approach

UNA-Uganda in collaboration with UNA-Finland organized a two-day workshop from the 7th to the 8 th of February 2023 at the Ministers’ Village Hotel – Ntinda. The Workshop was both virtual and physical. Participants from Uganda were physically present at the workshop venue while those from Kenya, Tanzania, Finland and Denmark attended via video link. The Workshop examined the linkages between Human Rights and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It was emphasized that the Human Rights – based approach is the way to go if we are to realize SDGs in a human-friendly way. We should desist from making the same errors that were made when implementing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Indeed, the chosen methods of work in implementing and monitoring the state parties’ work on SDGs is buttressed by the Human Rights-based approached as evidenced through the Agenda 2030 Declaration, the National Voluntary Review Mechanism and the Universal Periodic Review Mechanism. To ensure that advocates and young people appreciate and make use of the human rights-based approach while contributing towards the realization of SDGs, UNA-Uganda with support from UNA-Finland in the framework of ‘Accelerating the Implementation of SDGs in East Africa Program’, organized a two-day workshop from the 7th to the 8th of February 2023. The workshop focused on the theme; “Linkages of Human rights and Sustainable Development Goals”. The workshop was truly East African and encouraged cross boarder participation and sharing. There were participants from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Finland. There were facilitators from the Danish Institute of Human Rights and local Facilitators from the 3 countries. In Uganda, we had an audience of youth, Civil Society Organizations representatives, media, and People with Disability. This audience allowed the participants to hear from a wide range of representatives and hence enabling sharing from different perspectives in addition to learning from the facilitators. The UNAU president Mr. Muwanguzi George opened up the workshop and presented a paper on the Legal Frameworks for Human Rights and the insights on Human rights and how these are involved in every goal of the 17 Global goals. Ms. Maria Ploug Petersen from the Danish Institute of Human Rights took Participants through the Human Rights Mechanism, Legal Frameworks, Monitoring, and Principles. She added that the 2030 Agenda is a Human Rights Agenda and gave a brief about the Human Rights Data explorer tool developed at the Danish Institute for Human Rights. The data explorer showed Linkages to SDGs and Human Rights for any country; of which Uganda was included; and had recommendations to each country on each SDG. Currently Uganda has over 1000 recommendations on ensuring that Agenda 2030 is realized calling for serious acceleration if SDGs implementation is to be realized. Day two of the workshop kicked off with Ms. Peruth Nshemereirwe, a senior member of UNAU, a Human Rights Advocate and professional lawyer making a presentation to the workshop. She noted that the goal of human rights and SDGs is to holistically enrich the development process, provide more in our lives since human Rights are universal and permanent. Ms. Peruth noted that Everything begins and ends with Leadership and that at times, actors in the justice system such as Lawyers and Judges are to blame for Human rights violations due to delayed trials, inaction and miscarriages of justice. As a way of ensuring that the session is participatory, there were sessions of group work whereby participants were put into groups so as to discuss problems and find real or potential solutions to the various issues that were put on the table. The workshop sessions were concluded with an address by Mr. Muwanguzi who noted that although resources remain a challenge in ensuring the realization of SDGs and Human Rights, corruption and inefficiency remain serious challenges in service delivery. He for example intimated that, decided court cases and research indicate that there are high chances of patients dying in Government Hospitals – particularly children and mothers during and after childbirth due to the absence of basic obstetric services despite the fact that government may have allocated the necessary resources. He added that some healthcare specialists – Doctors, Nurses, Clinical officers and Administrators of public hospitals and health centres have been found to engage in corrupt practices and neglect of duties. These are matters that can be and must be decisively dealt with if Uganda and indeed East Africa are to accelerate the implementation of Agenda 2030. The workshop was finally addressed by the UNA – Uganda Secretary General Mr. Baguma Richard who virtually gave his appreciation towards every participant and called upon all of them be the front-liners in the call to accelerate the implementation of Agenda 2030 and ensuring that Human Rights and SDGs are realized in East Africa.