Of course, human rights can be as much a victim of the dynamics of global governance as a corrective for them. Despite all the convergence on paper, human rights remain a controversial issue in practice in international development forums. Governments of the High-Level Political Forum (FNTF) are still being told that reproductive and LGBTQI rights are not due to the development agenda, that the right to development does not exist, and that international cooperation is a matter of discretion and not a human rights obligation. Such tensions often take place along the North-South divides, a legacy of the long history of human rights abuses by powerful countries to justify conditionality, economic sanctions and even military interventions. Human rights are also limited by their enforceability in relation to other bodies of international law, for example by bilateral investment agreements that have been invoked in a restrictive manner. 12 These challenges are compounded by the current rise of nationalism, which has led some governments to strongly oppose the values of human rights as the foundation of international relations and undermine the multilateral system on which human rights are based. Thomas Gass, the UN Ministry of Economy and Social Affairs (UNDESA), proposed to treat the SDGs as a social contract rather than a strategic framework in which they will succeed in strengthening relations between dendes and money, as well as between governments and their people. Monitoring and reviewing the human rights system is seen as a means of ensuring iterative implementation in which a mix of public reports, stakeholder input and expert opinion gives a degree of accountability and helps to give governments and businesses the way forward to improve human rights performance. This new project will aim to contribute to such a reorientation and build bridges between states, by creating a safe (informal) space for states, in order to counter misunderstandings, clarify and exchange national views, bridge differences and establish consensus results; and presenting an objective and balanced analysis of the parameters of today`s debate and proposing consensus and comprehensive recommendations for future progress. This will help the international community to move beyond the many myths, distortions and misunderstandings that have undermined the right to development since its codification in 1986 and to move towards concrete and practical results that contribute to the realization of the right to development with all other rights, while contributing to the achievement of the SDGs. The counter-reaction to human rights as an ethical framework for global governance has perhaps never been more evident.
But at no time since the last world war has the need for such a framework been so acute. Human rights – contested, limited and criticized, but collectively supported and constantly developed – are the next ones we have.