A global partnership for the right to development

It is not an act of nature that leaves more than one billion people around the world in poverty; it is a result of the denial of their fundamental human right to development; a global partnership is essential to facilitate the right to development for all individuals. These points were raised during a panel discussion on the right to development at the Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva—one of a series of activities organized throughout 2011 to mark the 25th anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Right to Development.

Poverty remains a widespread and towering challenge. According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), an estimated one-third of the population in 104 developing countries, or about 1.75 billion people, experience multidimensional poverty.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, opened the discussion. “Scarcity, inadequate economic opportunities and lack of access to basic essential services are exacerbated by entrenched power differentials and stark economic and social inequalities both between and within countries,” she said.

“The current global realities make it abundantly clear that human rights and the human person must be at the center of development,” Pillay said.

“The primary responsibility for fostering equitable development rests with States. But the realities of globalization demand the engagement of us all, …Ultimately, our collective role is to ensure that a global partnership for development truly serves the aspirations of the people themselves as holders of rights and as the legitimate subjects and beneficiaries of development,” she said.  

Panel members stressed the importance of implementation. The Independent Expert on Human Rights and International Solidarity, Virginia Dandan, said the solution is action. It is essential to listen to the people who are affected and examine the ways in which people experience the right to development, she said.

Tamara Kunanayakam, newly appointed Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on the Right to Development, highlighted the crucial role of international agencies in recognizing and achieving the goals of the Declaration. “There is a lot of work to be done,” Kunanayakam said. “Ghandi said that poverty is the worst form of violence. I'm in complete agreement with these words. The right to development is an inalienable right to us all.”  

In an historic move, Pillay announced at the Council event that 17 UN agencies and other international organizations have endorsed a common approach to the right to development. It is the first time since the adoption of the Declaration 25 years ago, that these organizations have come together calling for policy coherence in the realization of the right to development.

“We resolve to contribute to building resilient and responsive institutions and promoting policy coherence in the spirit of a meaningful global partnership for development. Together, we are committed to carrying this vision forward, and to making the right to development a reality for all,” the joint statement (PDF) says.

19 September 2011