Using the SDGs, human rights, and advancements in higher education, we can build more just societies

Date:

Using the SDGs, human rights, and advancements in higher education, we can build more just societies.

  • News by AUN News correspondent
  • Wednesday, April 05, 2023
  • AUN News – ISSN: 2949-8090

Summary:

  • The Sustainable Development Goals are not yet widely accepted or even known about by the human rights community as a whole. 

  • Third, in connection with both LNOB and localization, human rights and sustainable development research and education should more frequently include and produce people-centered data ecosystems, such as community data portals that make use of open-source software and are developed with the help of local community members.

  • Disaggregated statistics that highlight social justice inequalities in local areas are required (together with policies and finances), as more fair transitions post-pandemic have not yet taken place, according to research in various North American cities.

  • These three steps would connect the SDGs to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is currently celebrating its 75th anniversary, as well as the numerous subsequent treaties and regulations that students still need to become familiar with.

  • A sustainable future where everyone’s rights are realized must be built throughout the second half of the SDG era.

The Sustainable Development Goals are not yet widely accepted or even known about by the human rights community as a whole. (SDGs). The fact that the SDG agenda is voluntary rather than being shaped by legal requirements contributes to ambivalence. A depressing cottage industry, however, has grown up around dismal ideas like the “end times” for human rights and a failed, final “utopia.” The pessimism is caused by what seems to be an excessive dependence on these same legal remedies, which so frequently fall short in their attempts to stop impunity or combat inequity.

A new strategy necessitates a paradigm shift in the dominant human rights frameworks.

Higher education innovations provide a way to further the closely related goals of building peaceful, just, and inclusive communities. Universities are essential to developing what I refer to as Cohort 2030 by fostering a reimagined approach to human rights that incorporates SDG knowledge.

What kind of paradigm shift would that entail?

First

Human rights education has to include the SDG motto “Leave No One Behind” (LNOB). Fundamentally, LNOB is an appeal for everyone to uphold human rights; the SDGs are applicable worldwide. The SDGs assist in elevating socioeconomic rights, which during the Cold War became entangled in East-West power battles and were later neglected, at least in the United States, and in broadening the focus beyond political rights. The epidemic has made it clear that both in the Global North and the Global South, there is an urgent need to address social justice gaps and socioeconomic injustices. Actually, solving many of the problems that threaten American democracy now is entwined with these problems.

Second

SDG localization and translation in particular contexts should be emphasized in human rights education (also referred to as “vernacularization” in the rights literature). Human rights experts have identified the overall lack of localization as a major obstacle to the realization of rights. The gap between how the SDGs are perceived as global and abstract and how people really experience things locally leads to both the need to “rescue” the SDGs and the end-of-human-rights zeitgeist. The SDGs have been localized in many places throughout the world, and this has led to innovation and useful applications that have a direct and positive influence on communities.

Third

In connection with both LNOB and localization, human rights and sustainable development research and education should more frequently include and produce people-centered data ecosystems, such as community data portals that make use of open-source software and are developed with the help of local community members. This was a particular recommendation from rights experts focused on furthering SDG 16 at the 2021 flagship 17 Rooms process, co-hosted by the Brookings Center for Sustainable Development and The Rockefeller Foundation. Disaggregated statistics that highlight social justice inequalities in local areas are required (together with policies and finances), as more fair transitions post-pandemic have not yet taken place, according to research in various North American cities. The recently implemented White House executive order on equity and data may be a game changer for creating such ecosystems in the United States.

These three steps would connect the SDGs to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is currently celebrating its 75th anniversary, as well as the numerous subsequent treaties and regulations that students still need to become familiar with. For instance, the United Nations has already mentioned the concept of fusing the SDG and human rights agendas, albeit with little detail, in its Fourth Phase of the World Programme for Human Rights (2020–2024).

It would also be completely consistent with a recent report on higher education and the SDGs by the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, which suggests “field building” in terms of sustainable development. The best part is that it would increase pressure for advancement on all of the SDGs that are centered on people, not only SDG 16 (justice). A sustainable future where everyone’s rights are realized must be built throughout the second half of the SDG era.

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