Include Dalits and those discriminated by work and descent in UN’s Post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals

dalitBy N Paul Divakar and Durga Sob*

Dalits from all over Asia and Dalit Diaspora from all over the globe are demanding that caste-based discrimination should be recognized as the major discriminatory or exclusionary factor in development. Thus the importance of elimination of caste based exclusion should be included as one of the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals that are being negotiated in the UN, at its New York HQ. For the SDGs to be transformational to 260 million Dalits across the world. It is essential that the goals, targets and the Outcome document takes into account the current realities in many parts of the world and include caste and descent and work based discrimination.

The Intergovernmental Negotiations for Zero Draft of Post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals and Targets (SDG) is scheduled to start from June 22 to June 25 in United Nations General Assembly. The universal goals and targets for global action are to replace the Millennium Development Goals from September 2015 as the global model of Development. With its pledge of ‘No One will be Left Behind’, the SDGs are looking forward for inclusive model of development without discrimination. Asia Dalit Rights Forum (ADRF) and its partners have drafted their responses to the Zero draft of the Outcome document of the Sustainable Development Goals to be adopted at the UN Summit due on the 25 – 27 September 2015, focusing on the issue of Dalit inclusion in the developmental goals.

Dalits communities have traditionally and culturally been subjugated by the upper caste for centuries, which has continued in various policy implementations till today. The exclusionary measures adopted by various governments across the globe have marginalized Dalits in Asia and similarly discriminated communities like Roma in Europe, Outcastes in Senegal and other African countries, Qilambo in Brazil and Burakumin in overall development.

They also recommend that Dalits and other traditionally excluded communities to have gainful participation in the development process undertaken by Governments and all development stakeholders. The need to ensure transparency and open data which are crucial not only to access budgets but also to monitor the commitments made in achieving the SDGs and the targets. This calls for a commitment to ‘just’ governance’ by the governments to not only being responsive to the needs of the people but also institute greater transparency, accountability and participation in terms of economic policymaking.

To ensure the above ADRF proposes the following and edits to the zero draft document:

  1. Human Rights for all: In the introduction part of the (The Agenda Section page 4, para no. 17) to ensure that human rights for all does address discrimination on the grounds of Caste.
  2. Quality education: Needs to include Dalits who are excluded at all level of education (The Agenda Section page 4, para no.22)
  3. Empowering all: irrespective of ‘Caste’ needs to be mentioned in the list (Page 16: Goal 10. Reduce inequality within and among countries)
  4. Data Disaggregation by Caste: In Goal 17, under Systemic Issues, subsection 17.18 data, monitoring and accountability (Page 21), data disaggregation among other lists should include caste. This should also be mentioned under Section III. Means of Implementation, Goal 17, section 17.18 data, monitoring and accountability (Page 28).
  5. Follow up and Review through rigorous and evidence-based, informed by data which is timely, reliable and disaggregated caste (Page 29, Section III. Follow-up and Review, sub section 3)
  6. Ensure inclusive and meaningful public participation at all stages of financing and governance processes. Inclusive and unrestricted civic space at all levels, and provision of timely, quality data and information will enable all citizens to engage meaningfully in budgetary discussions.
  7. Provide timely, comprehensive and forward-looking information on all development activities in a common, open, electronic format, based on strengthening existing initiatives and encourage all other development actors follow this lead. This principle of Multi-Sectoral accountability needs to apply not only to public institutions but to the private sector, to global governance institutions at all levels sub-national, national and to the international areas, to ensure a level playing field.

*Chair and Vice Chair, Asia Dalit Rights Forum

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