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A panel discussion organised by the Permanent Mission of Egypt to the UN Office at Geneva, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, in cooperation with OHCHR, FES and Nord-Sud XXI

“We, heads of State and Government, … are committed to making the right to development a reality for everyone and to freeing the entire human race from want.”
UN Millennium Declaration

Development is a Human Right

The Relevance of the Right to Development in the Context of Global Challenges

6 December 2011, Geneva, Switzerland

On 4 December 1986 the UN General Assembly passed a landmark resolution adopting the UN Declaration on the Right to Development, declaring development as a human right for “every human person and all peoples”, and thereby launching a further process of the elaboration of this unfulfilled right within the UN system. In 1993, the World Conference on Human Rights reaffirmed, through the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, the right to development as a universal and inalienable right and an integral part of fundamental human rights.

25 years later, the right to development as enunciated in the Declaration remains far from being realised. However, it is now more than ever that this right establishes its relevance and importance in the face of global challenges and crises.

Our current global context reflects a confluence of shocking waves of crises, in particular the economic and financial crisis, climate change and environmental challenges, food and energy crises, and many others.

It has to be underscored, that the international community, in various fora, has, at intervals, recognised the relevance of the right to development to its work, such as the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and the 2002 Monterrey Consensus.  In the year 2000, world leaders committed themselves at the Millennium Summit to “make the right to development a reality for everyone”. Subsequently, the right to development was reaffirmed in the 2005 World Summit outcome and the 2010 MDGs Review Summit.  In addition the 2011 Istanbul Programme of Action for the LDCs for the decade 2011-2020 has incorporated the right to development.

Such recognition proves the relevance of the right to development to these development and development-related processes, whether they pertain to the fields of economics, trade and financing, or the environment, or the overall international development agenda.  It highlights the fact that the right to development is as relevant today as it was at the day of its inception. The question to be asked is what is next.  How far can the right to development, as a comprehensive right, constitute a rights-based approach to development, in also its comprehensive aspects and conditions for sustainability?  How can the right to development translate itself into a useful tool to advance a results-oriented approach to addressing the current global challenges or else how can international fora and future development processes benefit from the elucidation of the normative framework of the right to development that establishes the individual and collective responsibilities of states to create an international enabling environment for development?  Part of the answer lies in mainstreaming and integration of the right to development in all relevant fora, within and beyond the UN system, a case in point being climate change talks and processes, the upcoming UNCTAD XIII, the implementation of the LDC IV programme of action, the revamping of the WTO Doha Round and beyond, and the international development agenda beyond 2015, just to name a few.  This further requires an assessment of the obstacles hampering such a step.

Against this backdrop, the NAM, in cooperation with the OHCHR, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung), and Nord-Sud XXI, seeks to explore those questions in the culmination of a year of events on the right to development as it celebrates its 25th anniversary in an effort to provide answers to some of them and assist in moving the agenda of the right to development forward.

Tentative programme

High Commissioner's statement