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Statement by Mr. Saad Alfarargi
Special Rapporteur on the right to development
45th session of the Human Rights Council

16 September 2020

Mr. President, distinguished delegates, representatives of civil society, fellow Rapporteurs, ladies and gentlemen.

Today, I have the honour to introduce my annual thematic report, including a summary of my activities. In my report I examine national-level financing for development practices from the perspective of the right to development.

In paragraph 2 of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, States committed to carry out a threefold task: to follow up on commitments and assess the progress made in the implementation of the Monterrey Consensus and the Doha Declaration; to further strengthen the framework to finance sustainable development and the means of implementation for the universal post-2015 development agenda; and to reinvigorate and strengthen the financing for development follow-up process.

In my thematic report, I looked into the ways that UN member States have engaged in the above tasks in their national efforts to finance sustainable development and the means of implementation for the universal post-2015 development agenda. The COVID pandemic altered the ways we conduct our work, placed new and highlighted many existing challenges for all actors engaged in sustainable development processes. I thank all States, who despite the dire circumstances participated in the development study I conducted. I regret that I did not receive more contributions and I am looking forward to further discussing challenges of development finance and the recommendations I have put forward in my report.

In the report I assessed stakeholders' integration of the right to development into national-level financing for development practices. I expanded upon my previous work on the practical implementation of the right to development and compiled good practices from States, national development institutions and non-governmental organizations. I also reviewed some of the numerous challenges that stakeholders face. I concluded with recommendations on integrating the right to development into the areas of resource mobilization, tax policies, participation and access to information.

In particular, I recommended that Governments should allocate the most resources to the regions that are the poorest, and to vulnerable populations;  to address regional inequalities and better facilitate participation at the community level, States and development finance institutions should localize development financing by establishing local development centres and by providing technical support platforms for municipalities; States should improve their disaggregated data collection to ensure that financing for development is targeted to those most in need. In relation to tax policies I recommended among other that: States should establish progressive tax systems that will serve as tools for fighting economic inequality; limit tax holidays and special provisions for foreign investors; bolster tax administrations and create specialized units for enforcing taxes on the wealthy and corporations. To ensure meaningful community participation in financing for development, I also urged development finance stakeholders to budget for and establish mechanisms for placing rights holders at the centre of decision-making on financing for development.

Further, I wanted to note that next month, as per my mandate, I will present to the UN General Assembly my thematic report that explores the international dimensions of financing for development policies and practices from the perspective of the right to development. In that report I also survey international and multilateral responses to the global economic impacts of the unprecedented coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and provide recommendations on integrating principles of participation, free, prior and informed consent and access to information into development finance policies and practices, as well as tackling the challenges relating to domestic and international resource mobilization, public-private partnerships and financial assistance in the context of both responding to the global pandemic and implementing the 2030 Agenda.

Mr. President,

Since the beginning of my mandate, I have also sent requests for country visits to 20 countries and would like to thank the countries that have responded positively to my requests.

I am happy to present to you my report (A/HRC/45/15/Add.1) from my visit to Switzerland in September 2019. I visited the capital and the cantons of Bern, Ticino and Zug and was able to meet with a large number of government representatives, civil society organizations and academics. I would like to express my gratitude to the Government for its excellent cooperation and to the civil society organizations, academics and other stakeholders for their valuable input.

The report contains my observations with respect to elected areas of development and the right to development, such as: international cooperation policy, implementation of the 2030 agenda, social security, education, and the inclusion of the most disadvantaged groups in sustainable development processes.

In my report, I encouraged the Government to continue implementing its traditional international cooperation approach that has been oriented towards assisting the poorest populations in the poorest countries, has alleviated much suffering and has brought about positive changes in societies in which it has engaged. I expressed my concern regarding the stagnation of official development assistance for the period 2021–2024 and the failure of the country to meet the ODA target set in the UN General Assembly Resolution 2626, the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on financing for development, namely to devote 0.7 per cent of the gross national product for official development assistance. I also looked at efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda and the integration of the right to development; at social security, education and the implementation of the commitment to leave no one behind, in particular with regard to the situation of women and persons with disabilities. I was encouraged to learn regarding measures to address the gender pay gap and I provided recommendations on strengthening the existing equality offices and commissions at the cantonal level and ensuring that they, along with the Federal Office for Gender Equality, are provided with the human and financial resources necessary for their functioning and other measures to further substantive gender equality. I also provided several recommendations on including persons with disabilities on decision making processes and increasing accountability, including the establishment of an independent national human rights institution with a broad human rights protection mandate and adequate human and financial resources, in conformity with the Paris Principles.

I had planned a country visit to Kyrgyzstan in May 2020, but I had to postpone it due to the travel restrictions resulting from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. I am monitoring the situation and hope that I will be able to resume conducting country visits later this year.

Further, as per my mandate under Resolution 33/14, I intended to participate in the twenty-first session of the Working Group on the right to development. Due to the COVID pandemic the session was postponed. I am looking forward to hold an interactive dialogue with its members when the Working Group resumes its work.

In September 2018, this Council adopted resolution 39/9, in which it requested me to participate in relevant international dialogues and policy forums with a view to enhancing the integration of the right to development into those dialogues and forums. To that end, I participated, on 7 October 2019, in a one-day meeting, organized by the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee, on the possibilities of utilizing non-repatriated illicit funds. On 11 and 12 November 2019, I participated in a consultation, organized in Jakarta, Indonesia, by the Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), on the realization of the right to development to enhance the ASEAN Community. I participated in the panel on understanding the right to development and its relation to a human rights-based approach to development and the SDGs in the context of ASEAN regionalism.

On 12 February 2020, I delivered a keynote speech at an open-ended discussion on the right to development, organized by the Permanent Mission of Azerbaijan to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva in its capacity as Chair of the Geneva chapter of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries.

Last but not least, on 8 July 2020, I participated in the 2020 session of the High-level Political Forum on sustainable development in New York at the invitation of the President of ECOSOC. I took part in the session entitled "Building back better after COVID-19 and acting where we will have the greatest impact on the SDGs: Responding to the economic shock, relaunching growth, sharing economic benefits and addressing developing countries' financing challenges". I highlighted the urgent need to include marginalised parts of the society, such as women, racial, religious and ethnic minorities, internally displaced people, migrants, people with disabilities and the poor in the decision making processes, related to the COVID -19 recovery processes. I appealed to all relevant actors, involved in development processes, including governments, international financial institutions, donors and private and non-governmental partners, to take a hard look at the ways they identify those left behind, in their efforts to mitigate the damage inflicted by the pandemic.

Last year I presented to you the Guidelines on the practical implementation of the right to development that resulted from a two-year worldwide consultation process (A/HRC/42/38, sect. III). Since the report could not encompass all the wealth of ideas and experience revealed during the consultations, I developed a "popular" version of the Guidelines, which includes many examples of good practices from across the globe. The popular Guidelines are available on my website in the six official UN languages.

I thank you all for your kind attention.