Strengthening the Sustainable Development Goals through integration with human rights



Bexell M, Hickmann T & Schapper A (2023) Strengthening the Sustainable Development Goals through integration with human rights. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 23, pp. 133-139.

This paper discusses the relationship between the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the long-standing human rights system of the United Nations. Thematically, these two modes of global governance strongly overlap. Several SDGs are in line with human rights obligations. At the same time, the SDGs and human rights are based on divergent logics and constructed very differently. After capturing the key characteristics of the two governance modes, this paper highlights the differences between the SDGs and human rights and introduces a novel conceptualisation to enhance our understanding of the relationship between rights-based and goal-based approaches. Against this backdrop, we assess this relationship and argue that human rights have the potential to strengthen and reinforce the SDGs. In particular, we sketch some future pathways to better integrate the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with existing human rights instruments to enhance accountability, review, and participation in decision-making in relation to the SDGs.

2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; Global governance; Human rights; Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Publication date30/06/2023
Publication date online30/06/2023
Date accepted by journal09/05/2023

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Professor Andrea Schapper

Professor Andrea Schapper

Professor, Politics