Over thirty years ago the UN proclaimed there is a universal Right to Development, and the Declaration was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 41/128 in December 1986. Importantly, the Right to Development is a group right of peoples as opposed to an individual right, and it encompasses all human rights – civil, political, economic, social and cultural.
“The Right to Development is the measure of the respect of all other human rights” said Kofi Annan.
Now that we are beginning the 15 years of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and its 2030 Agenda, it is essential that we know our rights, and understand the Right to Development. This knowledge can help folks in the communities to claim their rights, and to better demand that the Goals are achieved.
Like all human rights, the right to development also contains a specific entitlement — in this case the right “to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development”. This basic entitlement, set out with perfect clarity in article 1 of the Declaration, includes a number of key elements:
– People-centred development. The Declaration identifies “the human person” as the central subject, participant and beneficiary of development.
– A human rights-based approach (HRBA). The Declaration specifically requires that development be carried out in a manner “in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully realized”.
– Participation. The Declaration calls for the “active, free and meaningful participation” of people in development.
– Equity. The Declaration underlines the need for “the fair distribution of the benefits” of development.
– Non-discrimination. The Declaration permits “no distinction as to race, sex, language or religion”.
– Self-determination. The Declaration integrates self-determination, including full sovereignty over natural resources, as a constituent element of the right to development.