Skip to main content

Updates on activities on the promotion and realization of the right to development, covering the period from 1 June 2022 to 31 May 2023

Updates on activities on the promotion and realization of the right to development, covering the period from 1 June 2021 to 1 March 2022

Human Rights Council High Level Meeting on the 35th anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development
28 February and 1 March 2023, Geneva

The Doha Programme of Action for Least Developed Countries: Human Rights Related Challenges and Opportunities - a side event at the margins of the 51st session of the Human Rights Council, 15  September 2022, Palais des Nations, Geneva

This side event highlighted the importance of mainstreaming human rights and realization of the right to development in the implementation of the Doha Programme of Action for Least Developed Countries, adopted on 17 March 2022, during the first part of the 5th United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (A/RES/76/258).

It provided an opportunity to promote high-level attendance in the second part of the UN LDC Conference, scheduled to take place in Doha, Qatar on 5-9 March 2023, which will identify actions and partnerships at the highest possible level, including Heads of State and Government, to deliver on this important agenda. Please see the concept note of the event for more complete information.

Opening remarks and presentations delivered by the speakers in the panel can be accessed below:

Opening Remarks

H.E. Ms. Hend Abdalrahman Al-Muftah, Permanent Representative of the State of Qatar to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva

In her opening remarks, H.E. Dr. Hend AL-MUFTAH confirmed Qatar’s unwavering support and solidarity with Least Developed Countries (LDCs). She expressed hope that the second part of the 5th UN Conference on the LDCs which will be held in Doha from 5 to 9 March 2023, will be an opportunity to meet the needs and priorities of developing countries and support their efforts toward achieving lasting development during the next decade. She also invited and urged all countries and stakeholders, international organizations, including Geneva-based organizations, to actively participate in the conference, mobilize their energies for its success, and strive to implement its outcome within a framework of equitable international partnerships that enhance the capabilities of the least developed countries and harness its full potential.

Ms. Heidi Schroderus-Fox, Director, Office of the High Representative for the LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS

In her opening remarks, Ms. Schroderus-Fox highlighted the important role of all human rights, including the right to development, that flows throughout this milestone agreement for the LDCs. She also mentioned the robust human rights underpinnings in the DPoA and stressed that the DPoA offers an ambitious set of goals and targets for making progress towards graduation from the category, including exploring an important collection of “deliverables”, ranging from an online university for the LDCs, an international investment


Mrs. Brenda Bvalan on behalf of Mr. Pacharo KAYIRA, Chargé d'affaires a.i., Deputy Permanent Representative of the Republic of Malawi to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva (Presentation).

Mr. Rolf Traeger, Chief of UNCTAD’s Least Developed Countries Section (Presentation).

Mr. Mihir Kanade, Chair of the Expert Mechanism on the Right to Development

Ms. Maria Mercedes Rossi, Representative of Associazione Comunità Papa Giovanni XXIII to the United Nations in Geneva (Presentation).

Watch the video recording from the event.

22nd session of the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Right to Development
22-26 November 2021

The Human Rights Council Social Forum
Theme: The fight against COVID-19 pandemic, international cooperation and solidarity and human rights
11-12 October 2021

Publication of the Discussion Paper: Implications of the Right to Development for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and other United Nations Member States
August 2021

COVID-19 and the right to development: We are all in this together - the first HRC biennial panel discussion on the right to development, 17 September 2020, Palais des Nations, Geneva

This panel focused on strengthening international cooperation and solidarity in the fight against COVID-19, addressing ways to advance global solidarity in responding to the pandemic. Issues addressed included transforming the development model; advancing UN-system collaboration, strengthening connectivity and redressing digital divides; ending unilateral coercive measures; supporting climate stability for all; the fight against ‘vaccine nationalism’ and ensuring equal access. Read more about COVID-19 and the right to development: a call for international solidarity.

Leaving No One Behind: A Right to Development Perspective, RTD Working Group side event, 1 May 2019, Geneva

Organized in collaboration with the UN-mandated University for Peace (UPEACE), the Forum of Catholic–Inspired NGOs in Geneva and the International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations (ISMUN), this event reflected on ‘Leaving No One Behind’ through the lens of the Declaration on the RTD. The event provided an opportunity to listen to the voices of those left behind; to discuss empowering people, ensuring inclusiveness and equality; and to consider how the Declaration can be implemented at different levels while contributing to SDG implementation. Watch recordings 123 and 4 from the event.

Local solutions to global challenges: Role of civic participation in advancing human rights and development, HRC side event, 14 September 2018, Geneva

Organized in collaboration with the Permanent Mission of Mongolia, this event highlighted the story of “Let’s Change Our Toilets”, an initiative of the Mongolian NGO “Local Solutions”. It illustrated how local change-makers were able to support and build toilets for local communities. It also explored synergies across the human rights to development, and to water and sanitation; SDG 6, health and finance; free, active and meaningful participation, expanding civic space and local community engagement; and capacity-building through public education.

Development Frontlines: Of Rights, Justice and Fairness, Panel discussion, 19 October 2016, New York

This panel explored the ramifications of the Declaration on the Right to Development at its 30th Anniversary, in the context of contemporary development challenges that continue to pose obstacles and threats to delivering on the promise of this Declaration. It discussed several issues ranging from evolving debates on trade and investment to those surrounding tax and climate justice.

HRC Panel Discussion to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development, 15 June 2016

In commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Declaration, this event recalled the distinct role and value of the right to development. The event stressed the need for a legally binding instrument on the right to development and for transcending the ideological polarity dividing States; enhanced international cooperation, trade and technology transfer, reform of International financial institutions and the human rights responsibility of the business sector. The summary report of the event is contained in document A/HRC/33/21.

In Search of Dignity and Sustainable Development for All”, the Right to Development Anniversary, Joint event, 29 February 2016, Geneva, Switzerland

Organized in collaboration with the UN-mandated University for Peace and the Forum of Catholic–Inspired NGOs in Geneva, this event explored several synergies between the transformative vision of the 2030 Agenda for people and planet-centered, human rights-based, and gender-sensitive sustainable development and the RTD, notably Goals 7 on Sustainable Energy, 10 on inequalities within and between countries, 16 on peaceful and inclusive societies and 17 on global partnership and means of implementation. Flyer | Abstracts

Prince Claus Chair Roundtable "Thinking Ahead: The Right to Development Approaching 30", Joint expert meeting, 27 May 2015, The Hague, The Netherlands

This high-level roundtable was co-organized by the Prince Claus Chair in Development and Equity, International Institute of Social Studies (of Erasmus University Rotterdam) and The Hague Institute for Global Justice, in collaboration with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The Roundtable recognized inequities, global crises and the continuous relevance of revitalizing the RTD which offers a unique opportunity to advocate for an equitable policy space. There is need for all countries to change their rhetoric and to engage in new ideas and opinions that are not along political lines. Report | Concept note | Programme

Sustainable Development with Dignity and Justice for All – Realizing the Right to Development for Present and Future Generations, 2 December 2014, Geneva, Switzerland

The event discussed presentations on ‘Obstacles posed by the International Economic Architecture on Realising the Right to Sustainable Development’; ‘Ebola Virus and the Right to Development: Realizing State Responsibility’; ‘Implementing the Right to Development for Justice and Peace’; ‘The Right to Development and the SAMOA Pathway’; ‘The Path to Sustainable Development: Lessons from the Bhopal Disaster’; ‘The Implications of Hazardous Substances on the Rights of Future Generations’; ‘Advancing the Right to Development: A Child rights-based Perspective’;and‘Young People’s Participation at the United Nations to Shape the World They Want to See’.

RTD book launches by OHCHR, “Realizing a Vision for Transformative Development’ followed by Author Roundtables in collaboration with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, 4 (Geneva) and 9 (New York) December 2013

The launches in Geneva and New York of OHCHR’s landmark publication –Realizing the Right to Development: Essays in Commemoration of 25 Years of the United Nations Declaration on the Right to Development, celebrated the 25th Anniversary of this Declaration. The anniversary volume presents a wide range of in-depth analytical studies by more than 30 international experts covering the context, meaning and application of the right to development. Read more: “Realizing the Right to Development” – a vision for transformative development.

Human rights and the Financial Crisis in Focus”, Expert meeting, 1 July 2013, Vienna, Austria

In the wake of the financial crisis, many people lost access to work, affordable food, housing, water and other basic necessities. States largely failed to address the root causes of the financial crisis identified by the General Assembly to include inter alia de-regulation of the financial sector, rising inequality and other systemic weaknesses. The Office hosted this expert meeting on promoting a rights-based approach to financial regulation and economic recovery.

“Rights in Crisis: rights-based approaches to financial regulation, macroeconomic policies and economic recovery”, Expert meeting,24 – 25 April 2013, New York, USA

The bank bailouts and widespread imposition of austerity measures that followed the 2007 crisis reduced government expenditures on human rights, development and social welfare when and where they were most needed. Evidence suggested that austerity measures were actually hindering economic recovery and contributing to rising unemployment. Instead of austerity, a rights-based response to the economic crisis would call inter alia for regulatory reform, improved job training and creation policies, social security, education and health for all. OHCHR held an expert meeting to discuss these issues in depth.

“Rethinking Austerity: Human rights considerations in national and international responses to financial crisis”, HRC side event, 6 March 2013, Geneva, Switzerland

This meeting discussed the human rights implications of the financial crisis; the interrelationship between the right to development, national and international policies related to the financial crisis response, and financial and monetary architecture. It examined the obstacles that the financial crisis, austerity measures and excessive foreign debt pose to the full enjoyment of all human rights including to the non-retrogression and fulfilment of minimum core obligations. Read more: In difficult economic times, human rights should not be expendable.

The Social Forum “People-centred development and globalisation”, 1-3 October 2012, Geneva

Despite longstanding global commitments to link human rights and development, in practice, development was viewed as synonymous with economic growth and measured in material terms only. Development policies must address discrimination and systemic and structural inequalities, and engage marginalized or underrepresented groups and peoples in decisions that affect them. For more information, see the report from the 2012 Social Forum (A/HRC/23/54) And read more: Globalisation – a paradox of perils and opportunities.

“Human Rights and Rio+20”, Panel discussion, 27 April 2012, New York, USA

Twenty years later, we should expect more human rights, not less. That is the rallying cry of human rights and development experts, as well as over a thousand civil society organisations from over 100 countries. Negotiations on the outcome of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development have so far left many disappointed for their lack of attention to human rights. The panel discussion was organized by the United Nations; the Permanent Missions of Costa Rica, Germany, Liechtenstein, Norway and the Maldives to the United Nations; the Centre for International Environmental Law; the Council of Canadians; and IBON International.

UNCTAD XIII, 21-26 April 2012, Doha, Qatar

OHCHR participated in UNCTAD XIII on the theme: “Development-Centered Globalisation: Towards Inclusive and Sustainable Growth and Development”. In a letter to the President of the 13th United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, highlighted that human rights, including the right to development, can help fortify and reinforce development-centred globalisation and that development must go beyond economic growth and be founded on human rights standards, including the right to development and rights based approaches to development. Read more: Placing human rights and development at the centre of globalisation.

Events in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Right to Development

The Relevance of the Right to Development in the Context of Global Challenges, NAM anniversary event, 6 December 2011, Geneva, Switzerland

This panel discussion was organized by the Permanent Mission of Egypt to the UN Office at Geneva, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, in cooperation with OHCHR, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and Nord-Sud XXI. Speakers included the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Secretary-General of UNCTAD and Georges Abi- Saab, jurist, judge and pioneer advocate on the right to development. Discussions reflected on how the RTD could create conditions of sustainability, and how to create an international enabling environment for development.

People at the Centre: Human Rights in Global Economics and Development, Anniversary expert roundtable, 5 December 2011, New York, USA
What would happen if governments more faithfully implemented their positive obligations to respect, protect and fulfill the full range of human rights; if human rights-based policy coherence governed international aid and trade and investment; if ensuring equality and freedom from fear and want were pursued as aggressively as markets and growth? To explore these questions, OHCHR convened a panel of eminent experts, with the keynote address provided by Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia University. Read more: Putting people at the centre of development.

“The Right to Development at 25: Policy coherence in the global partnership for development”, UN GA anniversary event, 8 November 2011, New York, USA

This special anniversary event chaired by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, saw the participation of the Secretary-General as well as the President of the General Assembly. This is perhaps also the first event in the history of the United Nations Organisation that brought together the Chairs of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Committees of the General Assembly to discuss peace and security, development and human rights – the 3 pillars of the UN Charter which meet in the 1986 UN Declaration on the Right to Development – the only human rights instrument which adopts this holistic, multidimensional and integrated approach”. Read more: A new social contract needed to advance the realisation of the right to development.

"Promoting the RTD: the role of Parliament", IPU seminar (in cooperation with OHCHR), 20 October 2011, Bern, Switzerland

As part of the global commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, together with OHCHR, organized an information seminar on “Promoting the Right to Development: The role of Parliament” in the margins of the 125th IPU Assembly in Bern. The seminar aimed to sensitize parliamentarians to the inextricable link between human rights and development and encourage them to promote enhanced application of human rights, a prerequisite of the right to development.

"RTD: constraints and perspectives ”, OIC-NAM roundtable (in cooperation with OHCHR), 19 October 2011, Geneva, Switzerland

Organized by the Office of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Geneva and the Non-Alignment Movement (NAM) in cooperation with OHCHR, this anniversary event addressed redeploying resources from disarmament to development; reconciling national development goals with the economic and financial restrictions imposed by financial institutions and recurring financial crises; and States’ leadership and independence for the promotion of international development commitments.

“Realisation of the RTD: the role of civil society”, the Social Forum, 3-5 October 2011, Geneva, Switzerland

The Social Forum recommended inter alia that the HRC advance the RTD in parallel with intergovernmental processes and the building of a wider constituency through encouraging the broadest participation of civil society and all other relevant stakeholders in promoting the right to development. Additional means should be identified to hold national and international actors accountable, and to employ new instruments or better utilize existing tools for strengthening the justiciability of the right to development. Read more in the report of the 2011 Social Forum (A/HRC/19/70) and 'The right to development – who decides?’

“The way forward in the realisation of the RTD: between policy and practice”, Human Rights Council panel, 14 September 2011, Geneva, Switzerland

This anniversary panel discussion concluded that development institutions need to see Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as instruments of development; and multilateral solutions, international cooperation and solidarity were essential to balance national and international responsibilities. Member governments of the World Bank were signatories to human rights instruments, and should influence the Bank to include the right to development. A key challenge to the RTD was the intensification of demand for resources. There was a need for a win/win sharing of benefits between government, companies, indigenous peoples and local communities.

“The RTD and Global Partnership for Development”, ECOSOC special event, 2 July 2011, Geneva, Switzerland

The event provided an opportunity to discuss the relationship between the right to development and the activities of development partners in the UN system; facilitate dialogue with UN agencies on development as a human right; and identify initiatives and key areas for future cooperation and coordination. Hosted by the Vice-President of ECOSOC and co-moderated by the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, the event included keynote speeches by the President of the Human Rights Council and Professor Henry Shue of Oxford University, followed by an interactive dialogue. Read more: Making the right to development a reality for all.

The Fourth UN Conference on LDCs, 9-13 May 2011, Istanbul, Turkey

OHCHR participated in the Fourth United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries (UNLDC IV) which took place from 9-13 May 2011 in Istanbul, Turkey. Development is one of the most urgent of human rights imperatives for people living in LDCs. LDC IV adopted the Istanbul Declaration and Programme of Action for LDCs for the decade 2011-2020 (IPOA). This contains several references to human rights including the RTD and the right to food, the right to health, sexual and reproductive health, as well as "Gender equality and empowerment of women". Read more: Human rights crucial for development.

“25 Years of the RTD: Achievements and Challenges”, FES symposium (in cooperation with OHCHR), 24-25 February 2011, Berlin, Germany

Co-organized by OHCHR and the German foundation Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, this symposium marked the first of a year-long series of events throughout 2011 to commemorate and celebrate the 25th anniversary of the 1986 United Nations Declaration on the Right to Development. Speaking in the wake of the Arab Spring which had just flared up and was spreading across the region, the HC made the links between people taking to the streets and the denial of their human right to development. Read more: Development is a human right for all.

Global Consultation on the Right to Development as a Human Right, 8-12 January 1990, Geneva

This historic event focused on the fundamental problems posed by the implementation of the Declaration, the criteria which might be used to identify progress, and mechanisms for evaluating and stimulating such progress. Leading experts in the various fields presented background papers and participated in the ensuing discussions. Representatives of specialized agencies, units of United Nations secretariat, international trade, development and financial institutions, and non-governmental organisations also participated and outlined their organisations’ involvement in development.