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30th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration on the Right to Development by the UN General Assembly on 4 December 1986

The right to development requires States’ action

2 December 2016

The following joint statement has been made by a group of United Nations human rights experts* to mark the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration on the Right to Development by the UN General Assembly on 4 December 1986.

“Governments must meet their commitments if they are serious about delivering the right to development to all world citizens by 2030.
Governments need to move rapidly beyond rhetoric and political differences to make the right to development a reality for all.

It has taken 30 years and several world crises to begin easing the political debate around the issue.  The international community is now much more aware that the right to development should not be seen as an issue dividing North and South, but rather as a right that benefits everyone, everywhere.

At national and international levels, transparency, effective participation and accountability, of all stakeholders, in both the public and private spheres are needed as pillars of a human-rights-based approach crucial to developing real partnerships.

We hope the enthusiasm and consensus which led to the adoption of the Declaration on the Right to Development will be revived.

Extreme poverty and growing inequality, exacerbated by under-regulated globalization, have fuelled crises and conflicts with far-reaching consequences.

The benefits of development have not been distributed fairly across the world, leaving millions behind – especially people in poor rural communities, women, children, people with disabilities, older persons, indigenous peoples and minorities - whose access to basic rights such as food, water, sanitation, health, education, housing and gender equality are yet to materialize.

They have been deprived of their economic, social, political, civil and cultural rights.  The progress made so far remains both insufficient and unequal.

Evidence shows that women bear a disproportionate burden of the shortfall in all development goals, in areas including poverty, caring liabilities and health - particularly reproductive health.

Global statistics show that in 2015, 16,000 children aged under five died every day. Malnutrition is the underlying contributing factor in about 45 per cent of all child deaths.  159 million children under the age of five suffer from stunted growth and 50 million suffer from severe acute malnutrition, most of them in developing countries.   Access to basic health services, including children’s health care, as well as adequate mental health services, remain a luxury in many places.

Young people face particular challenges – not just high poverty and unemployment rates and low job security, but also the looming impact of climate change.

Indeed, climate change is directly and indirectly threatening the full and effective enjoyment of a range of human rights by people throughout the world. Its impacts are disproportionately borne by people and communities already in disadvantaged situations, including indigenous peoples,  who have not only historically contributed the least to greenhouse gas emissions but under whose stewardships 80% of the world’s remaining biodiversity has been preserved.

The real work to deliver on the right to development is only now starting, thanks to the SDGs, the Paris climate change agreement and the 2015 Addis Ababa action agenda, which creates a global framework for financing development.

The test now is whether governments will go beyond rhetoric and act on promises.

Current figures suggest that donor countries are lagging far behind their long-standing commitment to devote 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income to development.  Meanwhile around $7.6 trillion of personal wealth is said to be hidden in offshore accounts, costing governments an estimated $190 billion in lost taxes every year.  
Global financial issues are at the very core of the economic rights of individuals, who are also increasingly experiencing the negative impacts of insufficient regulation of global business.

Issues of governance and corruption also remain great obstacles to the right to development.  The SDGs will remain empty promises without proper political and financial commitment, regulation, management, and related safeguards.

The right to development puts individuals at the centre of development as active participants and beneficiaries both in developing and developed countries.

Sadly today we still see economic reforms and large-scale investment projects implemented in the name of development without ensuring that the rights of affected individuals and communities are fully respected. States, international financial institutions, businesses and other economic actors often fail to ensure adequate and meaningful consultation and participation of the people affected.

In 2030, we are determined to celebrate the 44th anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development as the first generation to have left no one behind. This need not be an elusive dream - but can be realized as the legitimate right of all humanity - awaiting only our collective will and progressive action.”

*This statement has been made jointly by:

- Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, Mr. Dainius Pūras

 - Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Ms. Hilal Elver

- Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Ms. Koumbou Boly Barry

- Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, Mr. John Knox  

- Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights, Mr. Idriss Jazairy

- Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity, Ms. Virginia Dandan

- Independent expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Mr. Alfred De Zayas

- Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, Mr. Pavel Sulyandziga

- Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice, Ms. Alda Facio (Chairperson)

- Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights, Mr. Juan Bohoslavsky

- Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Ms. Rita Izsák-Ndiaye

- Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, Ms. Catalina Devandas Aguilar

- Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, Ms. Cecilia Jimenez-Damary

- Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, Mr. Vitit Muntarbhorn

- Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons, Ms. Rosa Kornfeld-Matte

- Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people, Ms. Victoria Lucia Tauli-Corpuz

Read the Declaration on the Right to Development: http://www.un.org/en/events/righttodevelopment/declaration.shtml