Top United Nations officials today stressed the need to make the right to
development a reality for everyone, everywhere, and to ensure that it brings
about a real difference in the daily lives of billions around the world who
continue to live in want and in fear.
“The fact that almost three billion people live in poverty and that 20 per cent
of the world’s people hold 70 per cent of its total income means that we have
not kept our promises,” said High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.
“It is time to make the right to development a reality for all,” she stressed at
an event at UN Headquarters to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the adoption
of the UN Declaration on the Right to Development.
Development is declared a right that entitles “every human person and all
peoples to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural
and political development, in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms
can be fully realized,” according to the Declaration.
After it was adopted by the General Assembly on 4 December 1986, the Declaration
was re-affirmed many times, including at UN conferences on the environment and
on human rights, as well as in the global anti-poverty targets known as the
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Ms. Pillay stressed that development is a human right and the right to
development belongs to all.
“The anniversary stands in the uneasy light of the fact that for millions,
development remains in the realm of rhetoric. We must respond to the aspirations
of those who live at the margins, both locally and globally.”
She also stated that the right to development responds to contemporary
challenges, and stressed the need to act together to incorporate the right to
development across institutions and across layers of governance.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted
that the Declaration gave hope to millions of people around the world. “It
brought all human rights together. And it centred development around people.
“On paper, the Declaration lived. In practice, it languished.”
He stressed that now is the time to realize the Declaration’s ideals so that
people can live with dignity.
“Now is the time to invest in development,” he said. “We must invest in people,
especially women and youth. They make up more than two-thirds of the global
population. But they have more than numbers. Women and youth have the ability
and energy to drive progress.”
Mr. Ban added that in a world marred by violence and war, it should be
remembered that development is the path to peace.
“At the same time, as the Declaration shows, peace is a path to development,” he
said, noting that disarmament, economic issues and human rights are all crucial
Also addressing the event, General Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser
said that many of the global challenges seen today can be addressed by the
implementation of the right to development, “confirming its renewed significance
in this era of profound change.”
He added that the right to development resonates with the four main priority
areas of focus he has outlined for the current Assembly session, including
“It is time to realize the Declaration on the Right to Development,” he