Mr. Chairperson, H.E. Minelik Alemu Getahun,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to meet with all of you at this opening session of the 2011 Social Forum.
First, I would like to congratulate my distinguished colleague and friend Ambassador Minelik Alemu Getahun as the Chairperson-Rapporteur of this year’s Social Forum. Last year at this time, I had the opportunity to chair the Social Forum which focused on the adverse effects of climate change on the enjoyment of human rights. It was a special and rewarding experience and I wish Ambassador Minelik Alemu Getahun all the best in chairing the forum, particularly taking into account its wide approach for this year, when we commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the adoption by the General Assembly of the Declaration on the Right to Development.
Every year, the Social Forum provides a much needed space for an open and interactive dialogue on important human rights issues between the representatives of Member States, civil society and intergovernmental organizations. It is also in the open, diverse and hierarchy-less character that the Social Forum characterises itself.
In particular, the attendance by many grass-roots organizations representing the varied spectrum of society, especially those with real experiences on ground, is truly an asset of the Forum - because it brings in the practical and action oriented approach that enriches the discourse on human rights and helps us in translating our commitments on human rights into concrete actions on the ground.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The 4th of December of this year marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration on the Right to Development. In terms of this context, this Forum focusing on right to development provides a unique and timely opportunity to reiterate the principles and elements set out in the Declaration and also discuss practical ways in which this right can be realized through measures and actions at the local, national, regional and international levels, including the role and contribution of civil society representing enterprises, syndicates, press, between others; and non-governmental organizations. In its resolution 16/26, the Human Rights Council “stressed the need for increased and sustained participation and contribution of civil society and all other relevant actors… to the promotion and effective realization of the right to development.”
At this Forum let us remind ourselves that 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. It is significant that the Declaration does not reduce development to purely economic aspirations or goals but articulates a broad, comprehensive understanding of development at national and international levels, in all its multidimensionality, and bearing in mind the concept of “sustainable development”.
The pursuit of economic growth is not an end in itself. It is the way to achieve people´s welfare with a sustainable perspective, through opportunities, inclusion and social justice measures.
Development goes hand in hand with respect for human rights, the rule of law and the promotion of a democratic society.
At the inter-governmental level, the realization of the right to development has been monitored by the Working Group on the Right to Development, a subsidiary body of the Human Rights Council which will next meet from 14 to 18 November, to consider its future agenda on the right to development and reflect on the work completed by the former High-Level task force on the implementation of the right to development.
Also in commemoration of the twenty-fifth anniversary, the Council held a special panel discussion on right to development on 14 September and we hope that the summary of discussions at that panel event and the outcome of the discussions at this Forum will all lead to a constructive and productive Working Group session this November.
Ladies and Gentlemen
The last 25 years have seen many achievements in relation to improvement of living standards across the globe, an unprecedented collective rallying around meeting the Millennium Development goals and multiple efforts to eradicate poverty, hunger, disease and inequity, through global and regional partnerships. However, there are challenges that persist and those that are still emerging in the form of structural inequalities and obstacles, threats to our climate, armed conflict and violence - including organized crime-, increased vulnerabilities to natural disasters and environmental degradation, among others.
It is therefore important that we use this space and forum to discuss how these challenges may be met and also to identify and implement actions to address the right to development in both developing and developed countries.
Let’s aim at new ambitious international commitments to be accomplished after 2015, in order to stimulate new common efforts by all actors of the international community.
I strongly encourage all of you to make full use of the opportunities for interaction and debate that this Forum uniquely offers. Through the interactions that will take place during this Forum, we can collectively benefit from new perspectives on current problems that can guide and empower new collaborations for more effective action.
Moreover, I would like to highlight the invitation of the Council to have the Social Forum submit a report which will contain the outcome of the discussions. I look forward to receiving this report in due course.
It is crucial that the Human Rights Council is able to translate the recommendations made at this Forum into action at national and international levels and it is in this spirit of making a meaningful difference in the lives of peoples that I wish you a successful and rewarding meeting.
I wish you success.