Development is a human right for all

“There is no doubt that the denial of people’s right to development is one of the root causes fuelling public discontent and popular uprisings first in Tunisia, Egypt, and now in Algeria, Bahrain, Libya, Yemen and other countries in North Africa and the Gulf region,” High Commissioner Navi Pillay told a symposium on 24 February in Berlin, Germany.

Pillay speaks in Berlin about the 25th anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Right to Development © FES“Let us not forget how the current wave of unrest first started. It was triggered by the tragic death of a desperate young man in Tunisia, who set fire to himself because he had lost his livelihood and hope,” she said.

The UN human rights chief pointed out that people were taking to the streets because of rampant poverty and inequalities, rising unemployment, a lack of opportunities, and the chronic denial of their economic, social and cultural rights, as well as their civil and political rights.
“They have no regular channels to express their discontent; they are deprived of the benefits arising from the natural resources of their countries, and they cannot meaningfully participate in the decision-making process to change the situation. These are exactly the kind of issues addressed by the UN Declaration on the Right to Development.

“The right to development not only helps address these root causes, the Declaration also guides our efforts to find sustainable solutions because it puts people at the very heart of development,” she said.

“The logic of the right to development, as expressed in the Declaration itself, is unassailable: Everyone has the right to participate in, contribute to and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development,” Pillay said and stressed the relevance of the Declaration in guiding our responses to multiple contemporary challenges.

She called on governments and all concerned to seize the opportunity of the 25th anniversary to move beyond political debates and focus on practical steps to implement the Declaration.

“In an increasingly interdependent world, we need responsible diplomacy and principled global governance based on shared duties and the mutual accountability of both developed and developing countries in a spirit of international cooperation, partnership and solidarity”, she said.

Read the full speech of the High Commissioner

OHCHR seeks to enhance understanding and dialogue on the right to development through a series of events and public information activities. An information note (PDF), which explains the right and its significance, and a tentative programme of events are available on the right to development page of the OHCHR website.

The symposium “25 Years of the Right to Development: Achievements and Challenges”, co-organized by the United Nations Human Rights office (OHCHR) and the German foundation Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, is the first of a series of events throughout 2011 marking the 25th anniversary the United Nations Declaration on the Right to Development.

24 February 2011