“We, 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

Right to Development


Anniversary message from the High Commissioner

Thirty years ago, the Declaration on the Right to Development broke new ground in the universal struggle for greater human dignity, freedom, equality and justice.

It called for every member of society to be empowered to participate fully and freely in vital decisions. It demanded equal opportunities, and the equitable distribution of economic resources - including for people traditionally marginalized, disempowered and excluded from development, such as women, minorities, indigenous peoples, migrants, older persons, persons with disabilities and the poor; and for countries at all levels of development, including those most lagging behind. It demanded better governance of the international economic framework. And it re-defined development as far deeper, broader and more complex than the narrow, growth-and-profit focus of previous decades.   

The goal of development is to improve the well-being of every member of society. People are not the how of development - not mere tools which can be exploited to produce greater wealth for limited élites. They are the why. True development roots out and corrects the causes of poverty – the multiple human rights violations which have deprived people of power, control over resources, and a voice in their government, economy and society, and denied equal participation in global governance. True development generates greater social justice, not deeper exploitation; and it reduces the towering inequalities which confiscate the fundamental rights of those who are marginalised and poor. Read more ...