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Announcement: 25th Anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development

Article / Review by on November 3, 2011 – 6:37 pmNo Comments

Announcement: 25th Anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development

25th anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Right to DevelopmentWe, heads of State and Government, … are committed to making 
the right to development a reality for everyone and to freeing 
the entire human race from want.”
UN Millennium Declaration



Development is a human right. Everyone is “entitled to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development. According to the UN Declaration on the Right to Development — development is a right that belongs to everyone.

Development is a human right!

The United Nations Declaration on the Right to Development unequivocally establishes development as a right and puts people at the centre of the development process.

The groundbreaking  document, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 4 December 1986, first proclaimed this inalienable right, declaring that everyone is ”entitled to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development, in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully realized.”

A farmer in the Altai-Sayan Eco-Region of Uvs Province, Mongolia. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Altai-Sayan Project, which works to preserve the biodiversity of the region, has helped Mongolian farmers by converting unused land into an agricultural park. 2009/ UN Photo/Eskinder DebebeA farmer in the Altai-Sayan Eco-Region of Uvs Province, Mongolia. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Altai-Sayan Project, which works to preserve the biodiversity of the region, has helped Mongolian farmers by converting unused land into an agricultural park. 2009 /UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

It belongs to everyone

The pursuit of economic growth is not an end in itself. The Declaration clearly states that development is a comprehensive process aiming to improve “the well-being of the entire population and of all individuals on the basis of their active, free and meaningful participation in development and in the fair distribution” of the resulting benefits.  Like all human rights, the right to development belongs to all individuals and peoples, everywhere, without discrimination and with their participation. The Declaration recognizes the right to self-determination and to full sovereignty over natural wealth and resources.

25th anniversary

This year marks the Declaration’s 25th anniversary. Yet many children, women and men – the very subjects of development – still live in dire need of the fulfillment of their entitlement to a life of dignity, freedom and equal opportunity. This directly affects the realization of a wide range of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has called on governments and all concerned to seize the opportunity of this anniversary to move beyond political debate and focus on practical steps to implement the Declaration.

“I am duty-bound to raise this anniversary call. We must end discrimination in the distribution of the benefits of development. We must stop the 500,000 preventable deaths of women in childbirth every year. We must free the millions of children from hunger in a world of plenty. And we must ensure that people can benefit from their country’s natural resources and participate meaningfully in decision-making. These are the kind of issues addressed by the Declaration, which calls for equal opportunity and a just social order. … It’s not an act of nature that leaves more than one billion people around the world locked in the jaws of poverty. It’s a result of the denial of their fundamental human right to development.”

High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay

25th anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Right to Development

Background

According to the latest UN Human Development Report, the number of malnourished people has increased from 850 million in 1980 to about 1 billion worldwide today. Despite over thirty years of technological progress and ever-increasing exploitation of natural resources, 150 million more people are now malnourished.

Rampant poverty and stark inequalities, both within and across countries, serve as a constant reminder that the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the fundamental principles of international human rights law it subsequently inspired, and indeed the 1986 Declaration on the Right to Development remain empty words for far too many people, especially those belonging to marginalized groups.

25th Anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development

A right that addresses contemporary challenges

Born at the end of the colonial era, the Declaration on the Right to Development remains highly relevant today. The right to development embodies the human rights principles of equality, non-discrimination, participation, transparency and accountability as well as international cooperation. These along with the basic requirements of the Declaration (see box) can guide our responses to a series of contemporary issues and challenges, including climate change and the quest for sustainable development, the stalled Doha Development Round of trade negotiations, development cooperation, Aid for Trade, debt relief, technology transfer, foreign direct investment, the democratic deficit, weak governance, the Millennium Development Goals and the need to reform international financial institutions.

The right to development is not about charity, but enablement and empowerment. The Declaration identifies obstacles to development, empowers individuals and peoples, calls for an enabling environment and good governance at both national and international levels, and enhances accountability of duty bearers – governments, donors and recipients, international organizations, transnational corporations, and civil society.

Act together now

“States have the duty to cooperate with each other in ensuring development and eliminating obstacles to development,” says the Declaration. While there are hard-won development gains, the international community has yet to fully utilize the potential of the Declaration, partly due to politicization and polarization.

“The Right to Development can be realized only when there is a solid national and international accountability framework for development that respects social justice and human rights. Let us return to the hopeful and principled message of the Declaration itself – in a spirit of reasoned compromise and with a sense of the vital mission at hand, and focus our efforts on making the right to development a reality for all.”

High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay

During this 25th anniversary in 2011, the United Nations Human Rights office (OHCHR) seeks to raise awareness, enhance understanding and promote dialogue on the right to development through a series of events and public information activities

25th anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Right to Development

 

Background

DEVELOPMENT IS A HUMAN RIGHT FOR ALL

The right to development can be rooted in the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the two International Human Rights Covenants.

Through the United Nations Charter, Member States undertook to “promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom” and “to achieve international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion.”

The Universal Declaration on Human Rights contains a number of elements that became central to the international community’s understanding of the right to development. It attaches importance, for example, to the promotion of social progress and better standards of life and recognizes the right to non-discrimination, the right to participate in public affairs and the right to an adequate standard of living. It also contains everyone’s entitlement to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in the Declaration can be fully realized.

An important step towards the recognition of the right to development was UN General Assembly resolution 1161 (XII). In this resolution, the General Assembly expressed the view “that a balanced and integrated economic and social development would contribute towards the promotion and maintenance of peace and security, social progress and better standards of living, and the observance of and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

This theme was taken up at the International Conference on Human Rights, held in Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, from 22 April to 13 May 1968. The Conference expressed its belief “that the enjoyment of economic and social rights is inherently linked with any meaningful and profound interconnection between the realization of human rights and economic development.” It recognized “the collective responsibility of the international community to ensure the attainment of the minimum standard of living necessary for the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons throughout the world.”

In 1969, the General Assembly, in its resolution 2542 (XXIV), adopted the Declaration on Social Progress and Development, which states that “social progress and development shall aim at the continuous raising of the material and spiritual standards of living of all members of society, with respect for and in compliance with human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

In its resolution 4 (XXXIII) of 21 February 1977, the UN Commission on Human Rights decided to pay special attention to consideration of the obstacles impeding the full realization of economic, social and cultural rights, particularly in developing countries, and of national and international action to secure the enjoyment of those rights. Recognizing the right to development as a human right, the Commission requested the UN Secretary-General to undertake a study on “the international dimensions of the right to development as a human right in relation with other human rights based on international cooperation, including the right to peace, taking into account the requirements of the New International Economic Order and fundamental human needs.” The study was submitted and considered by the Commission on Human Rights at its thirty-fifth session in 1979.

The Commission subsequently, by its resolution 36 (XXXVII) of 11 March 1981, established a working group of 15 governmental experts to study the scope and contents of the right to development and the most effective means to ensure the realization, in all countries, of the economic, social and cultural rights enshrined in various international instruments, paying particular attention to the obstacles encountered by developing countries in their efforts to secure the enjoyment of human rights. It also requested the Working Group to submit a report with concrete proposals for implementation of the right to development and for a draft international instrument on this subject.

The right to development was proclaimed by the United Nations in 1986 in the “Declaration on the Right to Developmentt” which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 41/128.

As follow-up mechanism to ensure promotion and implementation of the Declaration on the Right to Development, the Commission established an intergovernmental Working Group on the Right to Development in 1998, and its high-level task force on the implementation of the right to development in 2004.

The Declaration on the Right to Development

The Declaration on the Right to Development defines such right as “an inalienable human right by virtue of which every human person and all peoples are entitled to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development, in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully realized.” (Article 1)

The Right to Development includes:

  • full sovereignty over natural resources
  • self-determination
  • popular participation in development
  • equality of opportunity
  • the creation of favourable conditions for the enjoyment of other civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights

The human person is identified as the beneficiary of the right to development, as of all human rights. The right to development can be invoked both by individuals and by peoples. It imposes obligations both on individual States – to ensure equal and adequate access to essential resources – and on the international community – to promote fair development policies and effective international cooperation.

The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action

The World Conference on Human Rights, held in Vienna in 1993, dealt extensively with the right to development. It adopted the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, which recognizes that democracy, development and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms are interdependent and mutually reinforcing.

The World Conference reaffirmed by consensus the right to development as a universal and inalienable right and an integral part of fundamental human rights. It further stated that, while development facilitates the enjoyment of all human rights, lack of development may not be invoked to justify the abridgement of internationally recognized human rights.

 25th anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Right to Development

UN General Assembly event to commemorate “The Right to Development at 25:
Policy Coherence in the Global Partnership for Development”

10 a.m. -12 noon, Tuesday, 8 November 2011
UN Headquarters, New York

Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Right to Development 

Calendar of events and activities

RTD+25 Events

RTD+25 Publicity materials

January

Public Information Note
“The UN Declaration on the RTD at 25”

February

FES Symposium (in cooperation with OHCHR)
“25 Years of the RTD: Achievements and Challenges”
24-25 February, Berlin, Germany

Web story
“Development is a human right for all”

March

The Human Rights Council
16th session, 28 February-25 March, Geneva

April

Launch of OHCHR’s webpage on RTD+25

May

The Fourth UN Conference on LDCs
9-13 May, Istanbul, Turkey

Op-Ed by the High Commissioner
and web story on UN LDC IV

Statement by the CESCR

June

A briefing to Member States “Development – a Human Right for All –Strengthened Coordinated UN Support for National Capacity Building”
1 June, New York

A briefing to UN treaty bodies and special procedures on the RTD
29 June, Geneva

Distribution of Booklet Version of the Declaration on the RTD

July

ECOSOC special event “The RTD and Global Partnership for Development”
12 July, Geneva

Joint statement by Chairpersons of
UN human rights treaty bodies 

August

Release of commemorativeposters

September

A HRC panel “The way forward in the realization of the RTD: between policy and practice”,
14 September Geneva
(HRC decision 16/117)

Release of an anniversary video

October

  The Social Forum
“Realization of the RTD: the role of civil society”
3-5 October, Geneva (HRC res. 16/26)

OIC-NAM rountable (in cooperation with OHCHR)
“RTD: constraints and prospects
19 October, Geneva

IPU seminar (in cooperation with OHCHR)
“Promoting the RTD: the role of Parliament”
20 October, Bern

OHCHR-UNITAR launch of e-platform
“Introduction to the RTD”

Publication of
Frequently asked questions
on the RTD” (to be released in 2012)

November

UN GA anniversary event
8 November, New York

The 12th session of the Intergovernmental
Working Group on the Right to Development
14-18 November, Geneva

Book on the RTD (to be released in 2012)

December

NAM anniversary event
5 December, Geneva (proposed activity)

Anniversary expert roundtable
New York (a date to be confirmed)

Press Statements by
the Secretary-General and
the High Commissioner for Human Rights

25th anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Right to Development

###

> United Nations (UN).

The General Assembly in session. Photo credit: UN / Eskinder Debebe The United Nations was established on 24 October 1945 by 51 countries committed to preserving peace through international cooperation and collective security. Today, nearly every nation in the world belongs to the UN: membership totals 192 countries.

When States become Members of the United Nations, they agree to accept the obligations of the UN Charter, an international treaty that sets out basic principles of international relations. According to the Charter, the UN has four purposes:

  • to maintain international peace and security;
  • to develop friendly relations among nations;
  • to cooperate in solving international problems and in promoting respect for human rights;
  • and to be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations.

###

* The above story is adapted from materials provided by United Nations (UN)
** More information at United Nations (UN)

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