UN stresses importance of right to development

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The UN Human Rights Council held a high-level meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development, stressing that the landmark declaration was a ground-breaking achievement.

“The time had come to recognize the right to development as a human right — on a par with other human rights and fundamental freedoms,” said Amina J. Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General and Chair of the UN Sustainable Development Group.

In December of 1986, the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Right to Development, Xinhua news agency reported.

However, Mohammed stressed: “Today, the right to development remains a bold intention, yet to be realised by billions of people, still pending formal recognition; the time has come to make it a reality.”

She pointed out that the Declaration underscored the centrality of people as agents and ultimate beneficiaries of development, and that sustainable development could only be achieved with the meaningful participation of everyone.

Volker Trk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said at the meeting that the world was now halfway through the 2030 Agenda’s 15-year framework. However, he added, the Sustainable Development Goals had been knocked badly off-track.

“In this regard, the Sustainable Development Goals Summit in September will be a key milestone to turbocharge the right to development and ensure that the goals are met,” he said.

Azerbaijan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Jeyhun Bayramov said that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had a special responsibility for integrating the right to development into the broader UN system, as well as mobilizing international support for realizing the right to development.

Meanwhile, the right to development was paralleled in the human development approach, said Achim Steiner, administrator of the United Nations Development Programme. Unlocking new sources of finance would be key, he stressed.

The right to development “is about creating an environment in which people could live with dignity and respect, free from poverty, hunger, disease, and oppression,” said Rebeca Grynspan, Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

The Declaration made it clear that peoples’ participation is fundamental to the right to development and for achieving the right to health for all, said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organisation, adding that countries had the duty to cooperate with each other.

More than 35 years after its adoption, the Declaration had renewed relevance in a world that was currently undergoing an important structural transformation, said Li Yuefen, senior adviser at the South Centre.

“It is essential that the promotion, protection, and fulfillment of the right to development should be continued in the context of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” she added.

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