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The Third World and the Right to

Development: Agenda for the
Next Millennium

N. J. Udombana*

[F]our fifths of the world’s population no longer accept that the remaining fifth should
continue to build its wealth on their poverty.1


It is no longer news that countries of the Third World are in a state of

emergency. They are waging war against poverty, disease, and all the other
evils that have plagued our generation. The war appears not to have abated,
although some battles have been won. There has been some measure of
progress within the last few decades. In some countries of the world, “Berlin
walls” have been torn down—real walls and walls of the mind. However, in
many other parts of the world, particularly the Third World, walls still
remain. There are walls of power and poverty. There are walls that deprive
people of their most basic rights. There are walls that divide societies
between those who have and those who have not, between those who rule

* N.J. Udombana obtained his LL.B. (with Honors) degree from the University of Lagos, Akoka,
Nigeria, in 1988, and a law degree from the Nigerian Law School. He received an LL.M. in
1991 from University of Lagos. In 1994, he joined the University of Lagos Department of
Jurisprudence and International Law, Faculty of Law. His research interests are in the areas of
International Law (with specialization in Human Rights and Environmental Laws), Jurispru-
dence, and Constitutional Law.
The author wishes to express thanks to Professor Yemi Osinbajo of the University of Lagos
for his advice and comments on the initial draft. Any error in the final work is, however, my
1. See Mohammed Bedjaoui, The Right to Development, in INTERNATIONAL LAW: ACHIEVEMENT
AND PROSPECTS 1177, 1182 (Mohammed Bedjaou ed., 1991), excerpted in HENRY J. STEINER

Human Rights Quarterly 22 (2000) 753–787 © 2000 by The Johns Hopkins University Press

and those who suffer. There are walls that consign whole sectors of society
to an existence barely worth the name. In short, there are walls of
So although some walls are falling, this is not the time to be
complacent. It is not yet the time to celebrate Uhuru. The process is just
beginning. New structures are yet to be built. Besides, there are still “many
more lands to be possessed.”2 There are many more battles to be fought,
many victories to be declared. Only an emergency organization—“a war
syndrome”—can win this war.
This article seeks to examine the concept of “the right to development,”
or “development rights,” in relation to the Third World. Is the right to
development an inalienable right? If so, what priority should countries of the
Third World give to development? Should they place it above other rights?
Can this be legally justified? How can Third World countries balance
economic growth with basic human needs—and human rights? This article
will also consider the consequences for the new millenium of the near-
universal embrace of the market economy and the effects of the globaliza-
tion of the economy on the right to development. What are the challenges
that the right to development creates for contemporary international law?


A. “Third World”

Alfred Sauvy first used the expression “Third World” in 1955.3 It has, since
then, caught on very successfully. However, a satisfactory definition has yet
to be elaborated. The Chinese invented the theory of the “three worlds.”4
The first was constituted by the dual American-Soviet hegemony. The
second consisted of such countries as China, the Western European States,
Japan, Canada, and Australia. The last corresponded precisely to the
developing countries, also described as the “Third World.”
The term “Third World” can be defined according to many criteria. It
can, for example, be defined from the political perspective. In this sense, it
represents a group of states attached neither to the capitalist camp nor to the
communist bloc; they are the non-aligned countries. Also, “Third World”
can be defined from the economic perspective. In this sense, it means
countries with the common characteristics of underdevelopment.

2. Joshua 13:1 (King James).

4. See id.
2000 Agenda for the Next Millennium 755

Geographically speaking, the Third World mainly consists of the

African, Asian, and Latin American states. These countries belong to the
“storm belt.” They are so described because they have been through many
disturbances.5 They have, for example, fought many battles for their
national liberation and economic independence. The “Third World” is thus
a geopolitical concept, based on inclusion in a geographical area—the
Southern hemisphere—at the historical period of colonization. It is also
based on the economic situation of underdevelopment.
Some writers have made a further classification.6 They classify develop-
ing Third World countries into two groups. The first group consists of the
low-income developing countries. These are largely made up of African
countries, especially sub-Saharan African states; South Africa is excluded.
The first group also includes Latin American states. The second group
consists of the middle-to-high-income Third World countries. This consists
of the high performing Asian economies led by Japan. It includes the so-
called “four tigers”—Hong Kong, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, and
Taiwan. It also includes the newly industrializing economies of Indonesia,
Malaysia, and Thailand.7

B. Development v. Underdevelopment

Some countries are classified as developed, others as developing. Still, some

are classified as underdeveloped. This raises a question. What is develop-
ment? The answer is not that simple. Development is a many-sided process.
At the level of the individual, it implies increased skill and capacity. It
implies greater freedom, creativity, self-discipline, responsibility, and mate-
rial well-being. The achievement of these aspects of personal development
is very much tied to the state of the society as a whole.8
At the level of the social groups, development implies an increasing
capacity to regulate both internal and external relations. More often than
not, development is used in a purely economic sense. In this sense, it is
“seen as simultaneously the vision of a better life, a life materially richer,
institutionally more modern and technologically more efficient and an array
of means to achieve that vision.”9

5. See id. at 25–26.

6. See Yemi Osinbajo & Olukonyinsola Ajayi, Human Rights and Economic Development
in Developing Countries, 28 INT’L LAWYER 727, 730 (1994).
7. See id.
9. See Denis Goulet, Development: Creator and Destroyer of Values in HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE
TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY: A GLOBAL CHALLENGE 689–90 (K.E. Mahoney & Paul Mahoney eds.,

There is no doubt that economic growth is a necessary condition of

development. In this regard, a society develops economically as its
members increase jointly their capacity for dealing with the environment.
This capacity is dependent on several factors. One is the extent to which the
members of a society understand the laws of nature. We call this science.
The other is the extent to which the members of a society put that
understanding into practice by devising tools. We call this technology. It is,
finally, dependent on the manner in which work is organized.10 We call this
Used in this wider sense, it can be said that there has been constant
economic development within human society since the origin of man. Man
has enormously multiplied his capacity to win a living from nature. People
of diverse backgrounds have shown a capacity for independently increasing
their ability to live a more satisfactory life through harnessing the resources
of nature.11
Development, in the economic sense, also consists of a list of services
and amenities that many take for granted. These include an adequate public
transportation system, good communications—radio, television, telephone,
and, with the information revolution, internet services. The list also includes
efficient public administration with a trained civil service. These are the
elementary components of a developed society; they make its smooth
running possible.12
Development includes the acceptance and spread to the whole popula-
tion of, at the very least, minimal standards of housing, education, and
health. It means that all people are reasonably clothed and fed. It means that
in hard times, such as unemployment, minimum assistance is available for
those in need. In some countries, this assistance is referred to as social
security. These, in broad terms, are the accepted results of development.
A developed society may take many things for granted. It may take its
educational system, for example, for granted. It may believe that its
educational system—primary, secondary and tertiary—is producing people
with the skills required to run the society efficiently. “[A] developed country
assumes that it can find the skills it requires from the ranks of its own
population.”13 It can, itself, provide for its own needs. It can solve problems
of economic, technological, and scientific development. It also, sooner or
later, generates a surplus of both capital and trained people that enables it to
provide assistance for development elsewhere.
There is, however, more to development than the economic well-being

10. See RODNEY, supra note 8, at 10.

11. See id. at 11.
13. Id.
2000 Agenda for the Next Millennium 757

of the individual and society at large. The definition of development must

encompass all aspects—economic, technological, organizational, and mana-
gerial. One cannot take a monolithic viewpoint in defining or conceptualiz-
ing development. After all, the primary aim of development is to satisfy
man’s spiritual and material needs. Development, then, consists of the
ability to maximize resources. It is for the benefit of human beings in all of
their aspects, tangible and intangible.14 When these are absent, as they often
are in Third World countries, we can rightly say that such a country is
underdeveloped or, to put it euphemistically, developing.
Development, from the totality of the foregoing, can be defined simply
as the fulfillment of human potential. The juxtaposition of human rights with
development implies that there is something called development, which
can be identified, measured, and implemented. How then do we measure
development? Antony N. Allot invented the “General Felicity Index (GFI).”15
According to him, we measure development by measuring the felicity of
individuals. One measures “not just the increase in the number of factories
or expansion of services, but basically whether life is happier and more
fruitful and enjoyable for the individual. In doing this, one has to balance
one factor against another.”16
Underdevelopment, on the other hand, is “a series of complex interact-
ing phenomena, resulting in flagrant inequalities of wealth and poverty,
stagnation, a relative backwardness compared with other countries, produc-
tion potentialities which fail to progress as far as they might, economic,
cultural, political and technological dependence.”17 The victims of such a
phenomenon are the “Third World” countries.
Some writers have, however, maintained that underdevelopment is not
the absence of development.18 Every group of people has developed in one
way or another and to a greater or lesser extent. Underdevelopment makes
sense only as a means of comparing levels of development; it is tied to the
fact that human social development has been uneven. From a strictly
economic point of view, some human groups have advanced further than
others. They have produced more, and consequently, have become
wealthier.19 The United States falls into this category.
Development, from the totality of the foregoing, can be defined simply
as the fulfillment of human potential. The juxtaposition of human rights with

14. See Development and Human Rights: Report of a meeting held on July 7, 1980, 6 HUM.
RTS. REV. 194, 195 (1981).
15. See id. at 195.
16. Id.
17. Yves Lacoste, Geographie du Sous-development (1976), quoted in BEDJAOUI, supra note
1, n.3 at 24.
18. See RODNEY, supra note 8, at 21.
19. See id.

development implies that there is something called development, which

can be identified, measured, and implemented. How then do we measure

1. Causes of Underdevelopment

One-third of mankind lives in the most deprived developing countries. This

portion of the population receives only 3% of the total world income.20
Much of mankind lives in a state of endemic poverty and hunger.21 This is,
however, not the case in the developed countries.
The population of the United States, for example, represents only about
6% of the world’s population. However, it consumes 55% of all the natural
resources of the earth.22 It is further “calculated that an American child
consumes roughly 500 times more material resources than a child in an
underdeveloped country.”23
Some countries have food surpluses and financial resources that enable
them to acquire what they lack, at the expense of others. Europe, for
example, draws largely on the resources of other continents for its food
supplies. This paradox needs to be emphasized. It explains the pauperization
of dehumanized people gradually falling into a state of absolute poverty.
The industrialized countries constitute the chief markets for foodstuffs.
Reports indicate that countries representing half of the world population
take eighteen percent of grain imports.24
The developed country’s food production is related to monetary market
demand—not to the needs of human beings. The Third World man is
deprived of food for the benefit of a man living in a prosperous country.
What is more, he is deprived of food for the benefit of that man’s animal.
Grain consumption by animals in the prosperous states takes precedence
over human consumption of grain in the underdeveloped countries.
Animals in the “advanced” states eat one-quarter of the world output of
grain.25 This is the equivalent of human consumption of grain in China and
India combined!26

20. See Abdellatif Ghissassi, in Eric Laurent ed., Un Monde a Refaire, Debats de France-
culture, Trois Jours pour la Planete 81 (Paris: Menges, 1977).
21. See, e.g., Report of the World Summit For Social Development: Copenhagen Declara-
tion on Social Development and Programme of Action of the World Summit for Social
Development, adopted 12 Mar. 1995, U.N. GAOR, Annex I, at 7, U.N. Doc. A/
CONF.166/9 (1995) [hereinafter Copenhagen Declaration].
22. See Lazar Mojsov in Laurent, supra note 20, at 144–45.
23. See BEDJAOUI, supra note 1, at 27.
24. See id. at 30 n. 2.
25. See id. at 31.
26. See the “intelligent, enlightening, provocative book,” as J.K. Galbraith describes it, SUSAN
2000 Agenda for the Next Millennium 759

Clearly, the above concepts show that “Western man has escaped for
the moment the poverty which was for long his all-embracing fate.”27 That
statement is a very bold and comfortable assertion! However, the same
cannot be said of Third World countries. In this part of the globe, “poverty
had always been man’s normal lot.”28 There are vast millions of hungry,
discontented, and disoriented people in the Third World.
The World Summit for Social Development was held in Copenhagen
from 6 to 12 March 1995.29 The document that followed revealed, inter alia,
that more than one billion people in the world live in abject poverty. A large
proportion of these people have very limited access to income, resources,
education, health, or nutrition. The majority of these are women, and they
are found particularly in Africa and the least developed countries.30
What are the causes of such underdevelopment? This is an area where
the debates are fierce. The two major paradigms that have dominated the
field are the modernization theory and the dependency theory.31 Simply
stated, the modernization theory holds that development is an inevitable,
evolutionary process of increasing societal differentiation that would ulti-
mately produce economic, political, and social institutions similar to those
in the West. The outcome of this process would be the creation of a free
market system, liberal democratic political institutions, and the rule of law.32
Dependency theory, on the other hand, argues that the sources of underde-
velopment are to be found in the history and structure of the global
capitalist system. Underdevelopment of the Third World, according to these
writers, is the product of historical forces and a direct result of the contact
between the hitherto underdeveloped social formations and the forces of
Western imperialism.33
The historical and political reasons for the present disorder can be
mainly expressed in terms of imperialism, colonialism, and neocolonial-
ism.34 Dependence, exploitation, the looting of the resources of the Third


28. Id. at 29.
29. Also known as Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development and Programme of
Action of the World Summit for Social Development, adopted 12 Mar. 1995, at Annex I,
¶23, U.N. Doc. A/CONF.166/9 (1995), available on gopher://gopher.undp.org:70/00/
30. Id. at ¶ 7.
31. See generally ANTHONY CARTY ED., LAW AND DEVELOPMENT (1992).
32. See Brian Z. Tamanaha, The Lesson of Law and Development Studies, 89 AJIL 470, 471
(1995). For an informative discussion of modernization theory, see DAVID APTER,
33. See generally Francis G. Snyder, Law and Development in the Light of Dependency
Theory, 14 LAW & SOC’Y REV. 723 (1980).
34. See generally RODNEY, supra note 8, at 22; FRANTZ FANON, THE WRETCHED OF THE EARTH (1968);
Julius O. Ihonvere, Underdevelopment and Human Rights Violations in Africa, in
EMERGING HUMAN RIGHTS 57 (George W. Shepherd, Jr. & Mark O.C. Anikpo eds., 1990). For

World, and the introduction of zones of influence have marked interna-

tional relations with “organized” or “institutionalized” disorder. “The cruel,
inhuman law of maximum profit has succeeded finally in establishing
disorder, with the Faustian power of multinational firms, the gigantism of
military-industrial complexes, and the ecological disaster.”35
The colonizers exploited the natural resources and labor of colonized
areas.36 They sold their products to colonized areas. They restricted
colonized areas from competing with products produced by the colonizing
country. They set up and protected corporations, plantations, and white-
settler enclaves in colonized areas. Exclusive licensing and trade rights and
legal regimes from the colonizing countries often accompanied colonial
The first industrialized nations were, at the same time, leading world
powers. They were largely able to control external development factors to
their advantage. Colonialism and imperialism, to whom the present devel-
oping countries fell prey, brought further acquisitions.
There were no impediments to, or imbalances affecting, development
along the lines of the East-West and North-South dichotomies. The industri-
alized nations were, therefore, a step ahead in innovational terms. They had
a significant competitive advantage. They took a protectionist stance
whenever expediency required. They established free trade after they had
achieved international competitiveness.38
On the other hand, free trade was forced upon the modern developing
countries at an early stage from the outside. This promoted the formation of
single-crop farming structures. It hindered well-balanced development
based on indigenous resources and competence.39 The consequences of
these disorders are still with us today.
Not many people share this view. Some scholars, pointing to the
success of the high performing Asian economies, insist that the “depen-
dency theory” is not credible; these Asian countries were equally victims of
dependency and imperialism.40 For them, the reasons for continuing
underdevelopment should be sought elsewhere. The reason lies partly in the
dictatorships of Third World governments.41 This is a persuasive argument

an interesting theoretical application of underdevelopment theory in Africa in general,

35. See BEDJAOUI, supra note 1, at 20.
36. See Manfred Wöhlcke, The Causes of Continuing Underdevelopment, 47 LAW AND STATE
51, 55 (1993).
37. For an excellent description of these activities, see David Greenberg, Law and
Development in Light of Dependency Theory, in LAW AND DEVELOPMENT 89 (1992).
38. See Wöhlcke, supra note 36, at 55.
39. See id.
40. See Osinbajo & Ajayi, supra note 6, at 737.
41. See id.
2000 Agenda for the Next Millennium 761

because not all human rights abuses in the Third World are the results of
historical process. Many are consequences of the internal political decisions
of sovereign Third World states. These states are laboring under the yoke of
dictators, who have planted seeds of discord in their various countries.42

C. Right to Development

It is now customary to discuss human rights in terms of “generations.”43 The

first generation consists of civil and political rights. These rights are
libertarian in character, relating to the sanctity of the individual and his
rights within the socio-political milieu in which he is located. The second
consists of economic, social, and cultural rights. These are positive rights in
the sense that they require the affirmative action of governments for their
implementation.44 The third encompasses “solidarity rights.”45
Each generation of rights has its distinctive characteristics, each more
developed and sophisticated than its predecessor. Some, however, see this
concept of “generations” as misleading,46 for it implies that one generation
is replacing the other even though it may carry over the characteristics of
the earlier generations. It also implies to the idea of succession and to a
possible historical description of the field of human rights in neat and
chronological terms.47 The truth of the matter is, according to this view, that
the various so-called generations of human rights, especially the first
generation of civil and political rights and the second of social, economic
and cultural rights, have themselves grown and expanded in a more or less
parallel way.48
These criticisms notwithstanding, this paper intends to maintain this
classification. Development rights are, therefore, classified as belonging to
the “third generation of solidarity rights,”49 which includes “the right to

42. See N.J. Udombana, The Rule of Law and the Rule of Man in a Military Dictatorship in
CURRENT THEMES IN NIGERIAN LAW 73 (I.O. Agbede & E.O. Akanki eds., 1997); see generally
Richard Falk, Militarization and Human Rights in the Third World, 8 BULLETIN OF PEACE
PROPOSALS 220 (1977).
43. See, e.g., Karl Vasak, A 30-year Struggle, 11 UNESCO COURIER 29 (1977).
44. See C. Welch Jr., Human Rights as a Problem in Contemporary Africa, in HUMAN RIGHTS
AND DEVELOPMENT IN AFRICA 24 (Welch and Meltzer eds., 1984).
45. Karel Vasak, For the Third Generation of Human Rights: The Right of Solidarity,
Inaugural Lecture, Tenth Study Session, Int’l Inst. of Hum. Rts., July 1979.
46. See Cees Flinterman, Three Generations of Human Rights, in HUMAN RIGHTS IN A PLURALIST
WORLD 76 (Jan Berting et al. eds., 1990).
47. See id.
48. See id.
49. See Karel Vasak, For the Third Generation of Human Rights: The Right of Solidarity,
Inaugural Lecture, Tenth Study Session, International Institute of Human Rights, July
1979, at 3.

development, the right to peace, the right to environment, the right to

ownership of the common heritage of mankind, and the right to communi-
cation.”50 Proponents of a third generation of rights emphasize that these
rights will reinforce existing human rights, enhance their effectiveness and
make them more relevant to both governments and individuals.51 These
rights aim at transgressing the traditional limits of human rights; it is “a reply
to the new challenges and ambitions which are placed before us.”52
The right to development, as a specie of solidarity rights, has been
defined as the right of each people to freely choose its economic and social
system without outside interference or constraint of any kind, and to
determine, with equal freedom, its own model of development.53 The
International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) defined it “reluctantly”54 as “the
right of all people all over the world and of every citizen to enjoy all human
rights.”55 Although the contours of this right are vague,56 it undoubtedly
encompasses many economic, social, and cultural rights.57


A. Evolution of the Right

Many factors were responsible for the emergence of the category of rights
involved in development. One was the emergence of a numerically

50. See id.

51. See Flinterman, supra note 46, at 77.
52. Id. at 78.
53. See Mohammed Bedjaoui, The Right to Development in INTERNATIONAL LAW: ACHIEVEMENT
AND PROSPECTS 1177, 1182 (Mohammed Bedjaoui, ed., 1991); see also HENRY J. STEINER &
54. See Rhoda E. Howard, Human Rights, Development and Foreign Policy, in HUMAN
57. Cf. International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, adopted 16 Dec.
1966, G.A. Res. 2200 (XXI), U.N. GAOR, 21st Sess., Supp. No. 16, U.N. Doc. A/6316
(1966), 993 U.N.T.S. 3 (entered into force 3 Jan. 1976), reprinted in 6 I.L.M. 360 (1967);
see also African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, adopted 26 June 1981, O.A.U.
Doc. CAB/LEG/67/3 Rev. 5 (entered into force 21 Oct. 1986), reprinted in 21 I.L.M. 58
(1982). In articles 20–24 of the Charter, the right to existence, the right to economic,
social, and cultural development and the right to national and international peace and
security have been formulated. See generally Philip Alston, Making Space for New
Human Rights: The Case of the Right to Development, 1 HARV. HUM. RTS. Y.B. 3 (1988).
58. There is a large body of literature on human rights and development. This literature
spans discussions of the concept of the right to development, strategies for local
empowerment, dependency theory and the relationship between human rights and
global economic processes. There is also an extensive development literature which
2000 Agenda for the Next Millennium 763

dominant group of developing countries. This itself was a result of the wave
of decolonization that peaked in the late 1960s. This development led to the
elevation of economic development goals to the top of the international
agenda.59 There was feverish resentment over the negative consequences of
colonialism, although the former colonial powers were reticent in recogniz-
ing continuing obligations towards the people concerned. Third World
countries were, however, undaunted; they called for reparations.
In terms of the UN human rights debate, there were demands that
greater attention be paid to economic and social rights and that colonial-
ism—and neocolonialism—were gross violations of international law.60
Third World countries argued that some form of development cooperation
should be put in place. They insisted that the imperialist world had a legally
binding obligation to do so. They demanded some form of specific transfers
of capital, technology, or other goods and services. These, they contended,
should be seen as entitlements, not acts of welfare or charity.61
Another factor leading to the emergence of development rights was the
1973 Arab oil embargo. The embargo itself was because of the Yom Kippur
war—or “War of Ramadan,” as some prefer to call it.62 Further, the intensity
of the North-South divide heightened. All gave rise to the search for a “New
International Economic Order.”63
In regards to the UN activities in this area, 26 November 1957 was a
historical epoch. On that date, the General Assembly expressed the view
that a balanced and integrated economic and social development would
contribute towards the promotion and maintenance of peace and security,
social progress and better standards of living, and the observance of and
respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.64

may not use the language of rights. Sources of information on development and human
rights include newspapers, the publications and documents of international organiza-
tions, books and articles. A few of these will be referred to in the course of the
discussion. But see generally, Bibliography. Symposium: Development as an Emerging
Human Rights, 15 CAL. WESTERN INT’L L.J. 639–46 (1985).
59. Philip Alston, Revitalising United Nations Work on Human Rights and Development, 18
MELB. U.L. REV. 216, 218 (1992).
60. See id.
61. See id. at 219.
62. See BEDJAOUI, supra note 3, at 21.
63. See, e.g., Declaration on the Establishment of a New International Economic Order
(NIEO), UN G.A. Res. 3201 (S-VI) of May 1,1974. The NIEO comprises three
ingredients. The first is the elimination of the economic dependence of developing
countries on developed country enterprise. The second is to promote the accelerated
development of the economies of the developing countries on the principle of self-
reliance. The third is the introduction of appropriate institutional changes for the global
management of world resources in the interests of mankind as a whole. See Hope, Basic
Needs and Technology Transfer Issues in the New International Economic Order, 42
AM. J. ECON. & SOC. 394 (1983).
64. See G.A. Res. 1161 (XII) (1957), 1957 U.N.Y.B. 1161, Sales No. 58.I.1.

In 1961, the General Assembly designated the 1960s as the United

Nations Development Decade.65 The resolution of the Assembly did not,
though, mention human rights. However, four years later, the General
Assembly adopted a resolution recognizing the need to devote special
attention to the promotion of respect for human rights.66 This attention, the
resolution stated, should be devoted to both the national and international
level, within the context of the Development Decade.67
In 1960, a UN report on development activities68 clearly identified the
link between human rights and development in the following words:
One of the greatest dangers in development policy lies in the tendency to give
to the more material aspects of growth an overriding and disproportionate
emphasis. The end may be forgotten in preoccupation of the means. Human
rights may be submerged, and human beings seen only as instruments of
production rather than as free entities for whose welfare and cultural advance
the increased production is intended. The recognition of this issue has a
profound bearing upon the formulation of the objectives of economic develop-
ment and the methods employed in obtaining them . . . the growth and well-
being of the individual and larger freedom, methods of development may be
used which are a denial of basic human rights.69
The first United Nations World Conference on Human Rights was held
in Teheran from 22 April to 13 May 1968, following a UN resolution to that
effect.70 The Teheran Proclamation elaborated on the theme of the 1957
resolution of the General Assembly.71 It acknowledged that:
The widening gap between the economically developed and developing
countries impedes the realization of human rights in the international commu-
nity. The failure of the Development Decade to reach its modest objectives
makes it all the more imperative for every nation, according to its capacities, to
make the maximum possible efforts to close this gap.72
Subsequently, the General Assembly adopted the Declaration on Social
Progress and Development on 11 December 1969.73 The Declaration states

65. See G.A. Res. 1710 (XVI) (1961), 1961 U.N.Y.B. 1710, Sales No. 62.I.1.
66. See Measures to Accelerate the Promotion of Respect for Human Rights and Fundamen-
tal Freedoms, G.A. Res. 2027 (XX) (1965), U.N. GAOR, 1381st plen. mtg.
67. See id.
68. U.N. Doc. E/3347/Rev. 1 (1960).
69. Id. at ¶ 90.
70. First UN World Conference on Human Rights, 22 April–13 May 1968. See G.A. Res.
2081 (XX) of 20 December 1965.
71. See G.A. Res. 1161 (XII) (1957).
72. Proclamation of Teheran, Final Act of the International Conference on Human Rights,
22 April–13 May 1968, ¶ 12. For the text of the Proclamation, see THE UNITED NATIONS
AND HUMAN RIGHTS, 1945–95, at 247 (1995).
73. See Declaration on Social Progress and Development G.A. Res. 2542 (XXIV) (1969),
1969 U.N.Y.B. 2542, Sales No. E.71.I.1.
2000 Agenda for the Next Millennium 765

that social progress and development shall aim at the continuous raising of
the material and spiritual standards of living of all members of society.74
Such shall be done with respect for and in compliance with human rights
and fundamental freedoms. Since then, the relationship between human
rights and development has occupied a prominent place in the international
discourse of rights.
The political economy of human rights thereafter found increased
resonance in the Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States.75 The
purpose of the Charter was to give a formal legal basis to earlier demands
and principles concerning the establishment of a new international eco-
nomic order.76 In the preamble to the Charter, the General Assembly
stressed that “the Charter shall constitute an effective instrument towards the
establishment of a new system of international economic relations based on
equity, sovereign equality, and interdependence of the interests of the
developed and developing countries.”77
In 1977, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a
resolution stating that “Human rights questions should be examined
globally, taking into account both the overall context of the various societies
in which they represent themselves as well as the need for the promotion of
the full dignity of the human person and the development and well-being of
the society.”78
In the same year, the Commission on Human Rights decided to pay
special attention to consideration of the obstacles hindering the full realiza-
tion of economic, social, and cultural rights, particularly in the developing
countries.79 It also decided to pay attention to the actions taken at the national
and international levels to secure the enjoyment of those rights. It recognized
the right to development as a human right. It recommended to the Economic
and Social Council that it should invite the UN Secretary-General to study
“[t]he international dimensions of the right to development as a human right”
in relation to other human rights based on international cooperation,
including the right to peace, taking into account the requirements of the New
International Economic Order and the fundamental human needs.80

74. See id.

75. Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States, G.A. Res. 3281 (XXIX) of 12 Dec.
76. Cf. Res. 3202 (S-VI), (1974).
77. See id.
78. G.A. Res., GAOR 32nd Sess., U.N. Doc. A/Res/32 (1977).
79. CHR/Res/4 (XXIII), U.N. ESCOR, 62d sess., Supp. No. 6, ¶ 4, U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1257
(1977). This resolution was the first recognition of the right to development as a human
right and the starting signal for a series of UN activities. See Karl de Vey Mestdagh, The
Right to Development, 28 N.I.L.R. 31, 34 (1982).
80. See id.

All of these instruments were elaborated upon pursuant to the creation

of a more just and equitable world.81 Since 1977, the debate has been
pursued with increasing vigor—under the rubric of the “right to develop-
ment.” The debate brings together several important themes, including
the legal foundations of the classical human rights and the basis for recognition
of new rights, the priority to be accorded to the different sets of rights, the links
between human rights and democratic governance, the extent to which the
international community bears some responsibility for assisting states whose
resources are inadequate to ensure the human rights of their own citizens, and
the relationship between individual and collective rights (including ‘peoples’
The links between human rights and democratic governance are also

B. The Declaration on the Right to Development

The General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Declaration on

the Right to Development (“DRD”) in 1986.83 Some objections and
misgivings were expressed at the time of the adoption of the DRD.84 The
objections notwithstanding, the document was adopted.85 This was in
recognition of the fact that “Development is a comprehensive economic,
social, cultural, and political process, which aims at the constant improve-
ment of the well-being of the entire population and of the individuals on the
basis of their active, free and meaningful participation in development and
in the fair distribution of benefits resulting therefrom.”86
The DRD declares that the right to development is an inalienable

81. See Akin Oyebode, UN and the Protection of Human Rights in Africa, in AFRICA AND THE
UN SYSTEM: THE FIRST FIFTY YEARS 90, 92 (G.A. Obiozor & A. Ajala eds., 1998).
82. See STEINER & ALSTON, supra note 53, at 1110.
83. Declaration on the Right to Development, G.A. Res. 41/128, annex, 41 U.N. GAOR
Supp. (No. 53) at 186, U.N. Doc. A/41/153 (1986) [hereinafter DRD].
84. The Federal Republic of Germany maintained that the DRD would lead to the erosion
of individual rights. Japan maintained that the right to development might be invoked to
legitimize violations of the rights of citizens. Australia maintained that the DRD failed to
draw a distinction between people’s rights and individual rights. The United States
maintained that the DRD tended to dilute and confuse the human rights agenda. The
United Kingdom maintained that the Declaration provided an over-simplified view of
the complex relationship between disarmament, security and development. It further
maintained that the Declaration provided a mistaken link between the promotion of
human right and the establishment of a new international economic order.
85. The United States was the sole country to vote against it. This “signals the continued
need for rich capitalist nations to recognise the legitimate rights claims of poor nation.”
Howard, supra note 54, at 215.
86. See DRD, supra note 83, pmbl. ¶ 2.
2000 Agenda for the Next Millennium 767

human right by virtue of every human person and all peoples entitled to
participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, socio-cultural, and
political development, in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms
can be fully realized.87 It further declares that the right to development
implies the full realization of the right of peoples to self-determination. This
includes the exercise of the inalienable right of peoples to full sovereignty
over the entire natural wealth and resources.88
Human beings have a responsibility for development, both individually
and collectively. They should take into account the need for full respect of
their human rights and fundamental freedoms. They should take into
account their duties to the community. They should promote and protect an
appropriate political, social, and economic order for development. This
alone can ensure the free and complete fulfillment of the human being.89
According to Article 2(3), states also have the right and the duty90 to
formulate appropriate national development policies. Such policies should
be aimed at the constant improvement of the well-being of the entire
population. The basis is their active, free, and meaningful participation in
development and in the fair distribution of the resulting benefits. States, the
DRD continues, also have the “duty to formulate international development
policies that aim at the constant improvement of the well-being of the entire
population and of all individuals . . .”91
States are to undertake, at the national level, all necessary measures for
the realization of the right to development.92 They are to ensure, inter alia,
equality of opportunity for all in their access to basic resources. These
include education, health services, food, housing, employment, and the fair
distribution of income. Recognizing that women often suffer substantial and
disproportionate difficulties in securing human rights, the DRD provides
that effective measures are to be taken to ensure that women have an active
role in the development process. Appropriate economic and social reforms
are to be carried out with a view to eradicating all social injustices.93
Article 3(3) of the DRD provides that states have the duty to cooperate

87. Id. art. 1(1).

88. See id. art. 1(2). Cf. the General Assembly Resolution on Permanent Sovereignty over
Natural Resources, UN Res. 1803 (XVII) of 14 December 1962. As Mohammed
Bedjaoui points out, there is a necessary relationship between authentic sovereignty and
the right to development, between true sovereignty over the wealth of a country and that
country’s right to development. See BEDJAOUI, supra note 53.
89. See DRD, supra note 83, art. 2(2).
90. This is a linguistic and juristic confusion. Right and duty are jural correlatives. Every
right, or claim, implies the existence of a correlative duty. Right has no content apart
from the duty. See R.W.M. DIAS, JURISPRUDENCE 25–26 (1985).
91. See DRD, supra note 83, art. 2(3).
92. See id. art. 8(1).
93. See id.

with each other in ensuring development and eliminating obstacles to

development. They should realize their rights and fulfill their duties in such
a manner as to promote a new international economic order based on
sovereign equality, interdependence, mutual interest, and cooperation
among all states.

C. Arising Matters

Some pertinent questions may be asked at this stage. To whose benefit does
the right to development inure? Is it to the state or to the individual? Is the
state the bearer or beneficiary of development rights? Put in another way, is
the individual the subject of development rights?
Some believe that the right to development was conceived long before
being addressed in the context of the emerging “International Law of
Development,” and as one of its constituent elements. Thus, originally, it
was conceived of as one of the human rights of the individual.94 In fact, the
concept of an “International Development Right” was first implied by the
resolution of the International Labor Organization (ILO) conference in
Philadelphia to the effect that “[A]ll human beings, irrespective of race,
creed or sex, have the right to pursue both their material well being and
their spiritual freedom and dignity, in conditions of economic security and
equal opportunity.”95
That resolution was passed in May 1944. Sometime after this, the right
to development continued to be conceived of as a “human right.” It was,
therefore, contemplated by, or implied in, some of those rights enumerated
in the post World War II universal and regional instruments.96
The United Nations Study on the International Dimension on the Right
to Development97 also attests to this. It makes the individual the sole
beneficiary of this right. The study identified the following elements as
forming part of the concept of development:
(i) The realization of the potentialities of the human person in harmony with the
community should be seen as the central purpose of development;
(ii) The human person should be regarded as the subject and the object of the
development process;

95. See General Conference of the International Labour Organization (26th Sess.), adopted
12 May 1944, available on International Labour Organization <http://ilolex.ilo.ch:1567/
96. See e.g., Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted 10 Dec. 1948, G.A. Res. 217
A(III), U.N. GAOR, 3d Sess., (Resolutions, pt. 1), at 71, arts. 22–27, U.N. Doc A/810
(1948), reprinted in 43 AM. J. INT’L L. SUPP. 127 (1949); arts. XI–XIV of the American
Declaration of Rights and Duties of States (1948).
97. See U.N. ESCOR, 35th sess., Agenda Item 8, ¶ 27, U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1334 (1979).
2000 Agenda for the Next Millennium 769

(iii) Development requires the satisfaction of both material and non-material

basic needs;
(iv) Respect for human rights is fundamental to the development process;
(v) The human person must be able to participate fully in shaping his own
(vi) Respect for the principles of equality and non-discrimination is essential;
(vii) The achievement of a degree of individual and collective self-reliance must
be an integral part of the process.98
However, in January 1979, the Human Rights Commission (HRC)
adopted a resolution stating that equality of opportunity for development
was as much a prerogative of nations as of individuals within nations.99 The
same year, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a
resolution reflecting the view of the Commission, that the right to develop-
ment is a human right and that states and individuals should enjoy
development.100 In 1980, the HRC again adopted a resolution repeating its
earlier view.101
It is, however, possible, on several different bases, to think of the right to
development as a collective right. The first possibility is to consider the right
to development as the aggregate of the social, economic, and cultural rights
of all the individuals constituting a collectivity. In other words, it is the sum
total of a multiple aggregation of the rights of the individuals.102 Another
way is to approach the right to development directly from a collective
perspective. It could be considered as the economic dimension of the right
to self-determination. It could, alternatively, be considered a parallel to the
right of self-determination, partaking of the same nature and belonging to
the same category of collective rights.103
The “right to development” flows from the right to self-determination
and has the same nature.104 There is little sense in recognizing self-
determination as a superior and inviolable principle if one does not

98. Id.
99. See CHR/Res./5 (XXXV).
100. See G.A. Res./34/46 (1979).
101. See CHR/Res./6 (XXXVI) (1980).
102. See GEORGES ABI-SAAB, The Legal Formulation of a Right to Development in Academy of
ed., 1980).
103. Id.
104. The right to self-determination is a cornerstone of the international legal system, and has
been a premier concern of the international community since the creation of the Untied
Nations in 1945. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, adopted 16
Dec. 1966, G.A. Res. 2200 (XXI), U.N. GAOR, 21st Sess., Supp. No. 16, art. 1, U.N.
Doc. A/6316 (1966), 999 U.N.T.s. 171 (entered into force 23 Mar. 1976) provides, for
example, in article 1 that “[a]ll people have the right to self-determination. By virtue of

recognize at the same time a “right to development” for the peoples that
have achieved self-determination. This right to development must be an
“inherent” and “built-in” right forming an inseparable part of the right to
self-determination.105 This makes the right to development much more a
right of the state or of the people, than a right of the individual.106 According
to this view, therefore, the primary responsibility for development and
human rights rests with nations themselves. This is a matter of self-
determination. There is no doubt, from all of the above, that the right to
development is a core right. All other rights stem from, or point to, this right.
It is “[t]he precondition of liberty, progress, justice and creativity. It is the
alpha and omega of human rights, the first and last human right, the
beginning and the end, the means and the goal of human rights.”107 The
DRD itself attests to this. It enjoins states to take steps to eliminate obstacles
to development resulting from failure to observe civil and political rights, as
well as economic, social, and cultural rights.108
It is submitted that the DRD is a document oriented to human rights. It
places due emphasis on the central position of the human person in the
development process. It is an important contribution to the debate on
human rights and development. Besides, it is an important contribution to
national and international policies in this area. Its adoption marked a
turning point, expressing a new way of regarding the very concept of
“development” following the failures of national and international develop-
ment policies. This failure had been attested to by the increasing concentra-
tion of wealth and power in the hands of a few.
With the adoption of the DRD, the international community questioned
for the first time the idea that the primary objective of economic activity was
to improve economic and financial indicators.109 Instead, it placed human
beings, individually and collectively, at the center of all economic activity110

that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic,
social, and cultural development.” See also The International Covenant on Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights, adopted 16 Dec. 1966, G.A. Res. 2200 (XXI), U.N. GAOR,
21st Sess., Supp. No. 16, art. 1(1), U.N. Doc. A/6316 (1966), 993 U.N.T.S. 3 (entered
into force 3 Jan. 1976). The self-determination provisions are important because the
realization of this right is a fundamental prerequisite for the effective guarantee and
observance of individual human rights. It is also pivotal in securing and strengthening
human rights protection measures. See CENTER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS, FACT SHEET NO. 16
(Rev. 1), at 7.
105. See BEDJAOUI, supra note 1.
106. See id.; Jack Donnely, In Search of the Unicorn: The Jurisprudence and Politics of the
Right to Development, 15 CAL. W. INT’L L.J. 473, 482 (1985).
107. BEDJAOUI, supra note 53; see also Weeramantry, The Right to Development, 25 IND. J.
INT’L. L. 482 (1985).
108. See DRD, supra note 83, art. 6(3).
109. See THE UNITED NATIONS AND HUMAN RIGHTS, supra note 72, at 75.
110. See DRD, supra note 83, pmbl. ¶ 13.
2000 Agenda for the Next Millennium 771

as active participants and beneficiaries of the right to development.111 If

taken seriously, the DRD would:
Strengthen the relevance of human rights in the development process, serve the
recognition of the human person and the human factor as central in develop-
ment efforts, provide a sound political, legal, social and moral basis for
development cooperation, and lend itself to effective use. In this way, it will be
a suitable yardstick in the development of human rights dialogue between
developed and developing nations.112
In addition to the DRD, there are several normative texts and docu-
ments that purport to integrate human rights into the development process.
In addition, some policy statements by intergovernmental and nongovern-
mental organizations also contribute to this effort. One example is the
Global Consultation on the Right to Development as a Human Right.113 The
Consultation reaffirmed the right of individuals, groups, and peoples to
make decisions collectively, to choose their own representative organiza-
tions, and to have freedom of democratic action, free from interference.114
Another example is the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.115
The Declaration reaffirmed the right to development as a universal and
inalienable right and an integral part of fundamental rights. It stated,
however, that while development facilitates the enjoyment of all human
rights, the lack of development may not be invoked to justify the abridge-
ment of internationally recognized human rights.116 In adopting the Vienna
Declaration, the Conference proclaimed that democracy, development, and
respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms are interdependent and
mutually reinforcing.
There have also been regional attempts in this regard. The African
Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Banjul Charter)117 is one example. It

111. See id. art. 2(1).

112. See Theo van Boven, Human Rights and Development: The UN Experience in FORSYTHE
113. The Consultation took place in Geneva, Switzerland from 8 to 12 January 1990.
114. See also the Declaration on the Progressive Development of Principles of Public
International Law relating to New International Economic Order. The Declaration was
adopted at the 62nd Conference of the International Law Association held in Seoul,
Korea in August 1986. The Declaration deals, inter alia, with issues, such as: the
principles of equity and solidarity and the entitlement to development, the right to
development, the principle of common heritage of mankind, and the participatory
equality of developing countries in international economic relations.
115. See Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, U.N. GAOR, World Conf. On Hum.
Rts., 48th Sess., 22d plen. mtg., part I, U.N. Doc. A/CONF.157/24 (1993), reprinted in
32 I.L.M. 1661 (1993).
116. See id. at art. 31.
117. African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, adopted 26 June 1981, O.A.U. Doc.
CAB/LEG/67/3 Rev. 5 (entered into force 21 Oct. 1986), reprinted in 21 I.L.M. 58
(1982). For its official Web site, see <http://wwwl.umn.edu/humanrts/instree/

provides, inter alia, that “[a]ll peoples shall have the right to their economic,
social and cultural development, with due regard to their freedom and
identity and in equal enjoyment of the common heritage of mankind. States
shall have the duty, individually and collectively, to ensure the exercise of
the right to development.”118 We are, thus, not short of rhetoric. The
blueprints for a more just international and social order, oriented toward
human rights, are available. They are, in fact, well-conceived. The problem,
however, is with the implementation of these lofty proclamations. In other
words, realities are in very short supply. The gap between standards—of
justice, achievement, and performance—and aspiration is evident every-


From what has been said so far, the evolution of conceptions about
development has led to the following efforts: to reflect about the ultimate
objective of development; to move away from considering development
just as an economic process or a set of economic measures; to include the
satisfaction of material and non-material needs as objectives of the develop-
ment process; to emphasize the role of the individual as beneficiary and as
actor while also stressing the rights of nations; and to look into more
contextual factors, such as the international order and the environment.119
What, then, must be done? How do countries of the Third World
prepare for the next millennium? Two approaches will be adopted by this
article in positing an answer. One approach looks to domestic remedies and
the other to international cooperation.

A. Domestic Remedies

The Working Group on the Right to Development stressed that “[s]tates

have the primary responsibility to ensure the conditions necessary for the
enjoyment of the right to development, as both an individual and a
collective right. Development cannot be seen as an imported phenomenon
or one that is based on the charity of developed countries.”120 Implementa-
tion of the right to development could only be the result of national policy

118. Id. at art. 22.

119. See Jose Zalaquette, The Relationship Between Development and Human Rights, in
FOOD AS A HUMAN RIGHT 146 (Asbjorn Eide et al. eds., 1984).
120. Report of the Working Group on the Right to Development, 3d Sess., U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/
2000 Agenda for the Next Millennium 773

and strategy, taking due account of the specific situation of each country. It
must, of course, not ignore economic realities.121 This is where the right to
development becomes relevant. There must be a Third World redefinition of
development, one that is suitable to Third World needs. Too often, Third
World countries tend to overlook this in their search for development.
The Third World perception of development is, and must be, different
from those of foreign interests.122 As Frantz Fanon reminds us, “Let us not
pay tribute to Europe by creating states, and societies which drew their
inspiration from her. . . . If we wish to live up to our people’s expectations,
we must seek the response elsewhere than in Europe.”123 Every society must
work in a deliberate and carefully structured way to ensure the enjoyment
by all its members of their economic, social, and cultural rights. For Third
World countries, it is essential that specific policies and programs be
devised and implemented by their governments that are aimed at ensuring
respect for the economic, social, and cultural rights of their citizens.124
Countries of the Third World should turn inwards because charity begins at
home. They must devise internal strategies for economic growth. They must
develop their own resources and technology. Their future will remain bleak
as long as they continue to copy foreign patterns of development.125 They
should search for means of development within their own resources. They
must change their attitude of depending on the goodwill of others. The child
must now become the “father of the man.”126 They must, consequently,
begin to pay more attention to the traditional values and attitudes of their
The aim of development is not only economic and financial efficiency
and improvement of the principal macroeconomic indicators, such as gross
national product and the balance of trade and payments. The aim of this
complex process is, in substance, to increase the active participation of the
population as a whole. An individual’s, or a people’s, right to development
places a concomitant duty on the state to ensure for each individual the full
and free right of participation and benefit from the development process of
society as a whole.127
Development should promote social change centered on people. It

121. See THE UNITED NATIONS AND HUMAN RIGHTS, supra note 72, at 75.
122. See Weeramantry, supra note 107.
123. FANON, supra note 34, at 315.
124. See, e.g., Statement to the World Conference on Human Rights on behalf of the
Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, U.N. Doc. E/1993/22, Annex III.
125. See Augustin Oyowe, The Way ahead for Africa, 156 THE ACP-EU COURIER 1996, at 72.
127. See Ved Nanda, Development and Human Rights: The Role of International Law and
Organizations, HUMAN RIGHTS AND THIRD WORLD DEVELOPMENT 301(G.W. Shepherd, Jr. & Y.P.
Nanda eds., 1985).

should lead to a democratically controlled system of production. It must be

designed to satisfy human and social needs. The desired progress must be
measured in terms of social justice, equality, well-being, and respect for the
fundamental dignity of all individuals, groups, and peoples.128
On a fundamental level, basic needs will, of course, continue to be the
basic demand on the Third World. Citizens will increasingly call on their
governments to serve their happiness129 and harmony. This, after all, is the
purpose of the state:
The State exists simply to promote and to protect the ordinary happiness of
human beings in this life. A husband and wife chatting over a fire, a couple of
friends having a game of darts in a pub, a man reading a book in his own room
or digging in his own garden—that is what the state is there for. And unless they
are helping to increase and prolong and protect such moments, all the laws,
parliaments, armies, courts, police, economics, etc., are simply a waste of
Similarly, one of the central concerns of international economic
planning should be the satisfaction of basic needs.131 Democracy, stability,
and peace cannot long survive in conditions of chronic poverty, disposses-
sion, and neglect.132
Third World governments must provide or promise a sure relief from
hunger and deprivation. Without such a promise disorder would be
inevitable. This promise of relief from the “problem of terrible vulnerabil-
ity”133 requires that available or usable resources exist. These are the
challenges facing the Third World as it approaches the next millennium.
And they are urgent!
Of course, a higher task exists for countries of the Third World. They, as
any other society, must ensure their survival.134 The satisfaction of basic
needs is only part of the pattern, for man shall not live by bread alone.

128. See THE UNITED NATIONS AND HUMAN RIGHTS, supra note 72, at 76.
129. The notion of happiness lacks philosophical exactitude. There is no agreement on its
substance or source. We, however, know that it is “a profound instinctive union with
the stream of life.” BERTRAND RUSSELL, THE CONQUEST OF HAPPINESS 249 (1930). Cf. BILLY
GRAHAM, THE SECRET OF HAPPINESS Preface (1956). There happiness is associated with
“serenity, confidence, contentment, peace, joy and soul satisfaction.”
130. C.S. LEWIS, MERE CHRISTIANITY 167 (1944).
131. The basic needs approach goes back to the World Employment Conference of 1976.
During the Conference, the Dutch Minister for Development Cooperation suggested
that a basic needs strategy should constitute a central theme or basis for the work of the
whole UN system. Such a strategy should concentrate on those most in need and on
essential human needs. For a history of the emergence of the basic needs strategy, see
UNESCO Doc. 105 EX17 ¶¶ 16–54 (22 Sept. 1978).
132. See N.J. Udombana, Socio-Economic Rights and the Nigerian Worker, 3 MOD. PRACTICE
J. FIN. & INVEST. L. 397, 411 (1999).
134. See GALBRAITH, supra note 27, at 274.
2000 Agenda for the Next Millennium 775

Bread, of course, is very important; in fact, man cannot live without it!
However, the tapestry is much larger. Other values need to be considered,
too. The basic-needs strategy, unfortunately, has been used as a convenient
excuse by countries of the Third World. It is as if the only problem of
developing countries is to provide the maximum requirements necessary for
What is wrong with “basic needs”? It is a diversion and a cold-blooded
strategem. It carves people into layers of poverty—relative and absolute—
and sets up arbitrary statistical criteria of judging levels of growth. In the
end, a focus on basic needs aims at ameliorating rather than eradicating
poverty.135 A strategy that aims only to satisfy basic needs would, if followed,
reduce the stature of the human race.136
Third World development must, therefore, be geared towards a larger
end. The promise of a better life in the next millennium must, consequently,
be matched with concrete development plans. The hope for survival,
security, and contentment requires that our governments direct their
resources to the most urgent needs. They must get their acts together; these
efforts must go beyond bogus and fraudulent contrivances. They must, for
example, go beyond Vision 2010137 that the Abacha misrule put in place for
Nigeria. Countries of the Third World must get matters into better perspec-
tive. Their priorities must be right. They must be more consistent with life
The Third World has the human and material resources necessary to
eliminate poverty and other incidents of underdevelopment. To achieve
this, however, their governments must accept certain standards of good
governance, which should be based on legitimacy, accountability, compe-
tence, and respect for human rights. Countries of the Third World are
presently undergoing momentous political transformations. Their citizens
are yearning and clamouring for democracy.
Military rule and dictatorship are increasingly becoming an aberration.
The burden of proof is now on military regimes to show reasons why they
must not democratize. In most cases, they have failed to discharge this
burden. And, as contemporary experiences show, the international commu-
nity is beginning to isolate dictators. Hopefully, the tempo of democratiza-
tion will increase in the new millennium.

135. See Altaf Gauhar, What is Wrong with Basic Needs?, 4 THIRD WORLD Q. xxi (July 1982).
136. See U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/A/SR 1489.
137. The “Vision 2010” Committee was empanelled to draw up, inter alia, an economic
blueprint for Nigeria for the next millenium. The Committee, headed by Chief Ernest
Shonekan, was obviously a talk shop. It provided relief for the dictator who was being
pressurized to convene a Sovereign National Conference to address fundamental
national issues. See Report of the Vision 2010 Committee, available on <http://

Those who prefer authoritarianism think otherwise. They insist that

developing countries must temporarily sacrifice freedom to achieve the
rapid economic development that their exploding populations and rising
expectations demand. In short, they believe that government must be
authoritarian to promote development. This is a lie. “Authoritarianism is not
needed for development; what it is needed for is to maintain the status
The UN Secretary General, in a report on the regional and national
dimensions of the right to development as a human right, stressed that
“[a]ny development strategy which directly involves the denial of funda-
mental human rights, in whatever name or cause it may be undertaken,
must be deemed to be a systematic violation of the right to development.”139
Countries of the Third World must also face the problem of corrup-
tion;140 theft of public funds by government functionaries has become the
rule in most Third World countries. It is reported, for example, that Mobutu
Sese Seko, former President of Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the
Congo), looted over $10 billion (US) from his country’s treasury.141 In
Nigeria, current President Olusegun Obasanjo puts former dictator General
Sani Abacha’s loot at $4.3 billion (US).142 There is no longer any doubt that
corruption has contributed to the underdevelopment of the Third World,
since such stolen monies are usually siphoned into foreign banks where
they are subsequently redirected to Third World countries as loans. The
securities for such loans are, of course, the unborn children of the Third
World. Their greedy leaders have mortgaged their future!
The Third World cannot focus on development in an environment of
unbridled corruption by government functionaries. The rest of the world
will not take them seriously. Third World countries must, therefore, first set
their houses in order.
There also has to be a massive shift in resources. Countries of the Third
World must deliberately shift their resources. They must not devote, if their

138. Jose Diokno, Text of the Amnesty International 1978 Sean MacBride Human Rights
Lecture, AI Index: ICM01/11/78.
139. U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1488, 31 Dec. 1981, cited in THE UNITED NATIONS AND HUMAN RIGHTS,
supra note 72, at 76.
140. According to the 1996 ANNUAL CORRUPTION PERCEPTION INDEX, published by Transparency
International, an NGO, the most corrupt country was judged to be Nigeria, followed by
Pakistan, Kenya, Bangladesh, and China, quoted in UNITED NATIONS DEVELOPMENT REPORT of
1998 for Nigeria, at 31.
141. See THE GUARDIAN (Nigeria), 9 Mar. 2000, at 8.
142. See THE GUARDIAN (Nigeria), 8 Feb. 2000, at 1. In 1992, it was reported in The Financial
Times that 300 Nigerians own over U.S. $30 billion in European and North American
banks. Similar cases of mind-boggling foreign accounts belonging to other African
citizens abound. See Afe Babalola, Legal and Judicial Systems and Corruption, in
2000 Agenda for the Next Millennium 777

countries are to survive, so many resources to debt servicing and defense

procurement. They must begin to invest in such sectors as education, food
security, and health. As General Eisenhower reminded the world, “Every
gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies, in a
final sense, a shift from those who hunger and are not fed, from those who
are cold and are not clothed.”143 The Limburg Principles144 provide that “In
the use of the available resources due priority shall be given to the
realisation of rights recognised in the Covenant on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights, mindful of the need to assure to everyone the satisfaction of
subsistence requirements as well as the provision of essential services.”145
The new international economic order appears to be working against
Third World countries. The Cold War has ended. However, it has also
reduced most of the realpolitik constraints on placing human rights at the
top of the world agenda. The former Soviet bloc countries are currently
fighting a war of economic survival; they hardly find time these days to fight
for Third World interests.
This is reminiscent of Western liberalism and Adam Smith’s The Wealth
of Nations.146 Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” is the motto of this new order
and Machiavelli’s “the end justifies the means”147 is its ally. Some have
indeed prophesied that the new international economic order will be
“based on capitalism and divided into three spheres of economic and
political domination (Latin America by the United States, Africa by the
European Community, and Asia by Japan).”148 This frightening prophecy
sounds like another Berlin!149

143. General Eisenhower, quoted in Weeramantry, supra note 107, at 482.

144. See The Limburg Principles on the Implementation of the International Covenant on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, adopted 8 Jan. 1987, U.N. ESCOR, Comm’n on
Hum. Rts., 43rd Sess., Agenda Item 8, U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1987/17/Annex(1987),
reprinted in The Limburg Principles on the Implementation of the International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 9 HUM. RTS. Q. 122 (1987). The
Limburg Principles are statements on the current state of international law on economic,
social, and cultural rights by 29 international law experts who met to consider the
implementaion of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
(Maastricht, the Netherlands, 2–6 June 1986).
145. Id. at 126, art. 28.
146. ADAM SMITH, THE WEALTH OF NATIONS (R.H. Campbell & A.S. Skinner eds., 1976).
147. NICCOLO MACHIAVELLI, THE PRINCE, 94 (trans. Luigi Ricci 1952).
148. Manfred Nowak, Future Strategies for the International Protection and Realization of
149. The Berlin Conference of 1884–85 saw the partition of Africa into various spheres of
influence by the European powers. The event “had a profound impact on the continents
of Africa and Europe and their peoples, and, indeed, the global system at large,” AFRICA
1986). See generally RODNEY, supra note 8; BASIL DAVIDSON, THE BLACK MAN’S BURDEN: AFRICA

These developments will, in the long run, hardly contribute to prosper-

ity and social welfare in the South. It will contribute instead to mass poverty,
social unrest, and gross violations of human rights. Third World countries
must, therefore, not be aloof to these developments; they must discover new
strategies. They must explore new ways of survival and the means of
achieving the kind of development associated with the human right to
Several events in the past few years have shaped the economic and
other programs of Third World countries. The debt crisis, perhaps, has been
the most significant. Its most pervasive consequence was that developing
countries ceased to receive positive resource transfers. Instead, they moved
to negative positions.150
How did a majority of these economies respond to the debt burden and
the virtual drying up of foreign capital and reserves? They adopted varying
versions of International Monetary Fund (IMF)-dictated Structural Adjust-
ment Programmes (SAPs).151 These involved the liberalization of economic
controls, privatization/commercialization, de-indigenization, introduction
of market-driven economic policies, and promotion of exports.
The irony is that most of these countries do not even believe in SAPs.
However, they are compelled to participate in them in order to have access
to funds. What has been the result? Their economic status quo ante has not
changed for the better. SAPs have, instead, worsened the economic
circumstances of developing countries.152 It is submitted that the structural
adjustment policies of the IMF and World Bank, whatever their contribution
to debt relief, have placed an intolerable burden on the poorest populations
of the developing world.153 SAPs are the “creditor’s device to secure
repayment for ill-considered loans.”154
Countries of the Third World, therefore, should be wary of adopting
policies that are not consistent with their own agendas. Countries should
carry out reforms because “they are the right thing to do, not because they
are what the World Bank and the IMF want,”155 as the operations of these

150. See J.J. Olloqui, The International Debt Crisis in INTERNATIONAL FINANCE AND EXTERNAL DEBT
MANAGEMENT 5 (Lagos: UNCTC/UNDP/FMJ, 1991); Yemi Osinbajo & Olukonyinsola
Ajayi, External Debt Management: Case Study of Nigeria INTERNATIONAL FINANCE 69.
152. See Osinbajo & Ajayi, supra note 6, at 731.
153. See World Debt and the Human Condition: Structural Adjustment and the Right to
Development (Ved P. Nanda et al. eds., 1993).
154. L. Michael Hager, 89 AM. J. INT’L L. 464 (1995).
155. Oyowo, supra note 125. See generally Tsui Selatile, African Alternative Framework to
Structural Adjustment Programme for Socio-Economic Recovery and Transformation, in
1 (1995).
2000 Agenda for the Next Millennium 779

two institutions has worked to undermine the right to self-determination of

most Third World countries.156 A clear distinction should be drawn between
conditionality and development assistance.
Economic development requires the organized application of resources,
manpower, and leadership in the country concerned. It must be a sustained
activity and it must not be subject to interruptions. It calls for an appropriate
legal and political environment. In such an environment, the various
essential factors can unite in a major effort. Such an environment is essential
to obtaining the benefits of international cooperation—governed by interna-
tional law.157
The question is, how can such an environment be created? The answer
is simple. There must be arrangements that will create those conditions
essential to appropriate domestic investments and manpower policies. Such
arrangements could either be domestic or international. Countries must
create the enabling environment that will attract foreign investment and the
private flows that will foster development.

B. International Cooperation

Traditional international law lays down rules for coexistence—a modus

vivandi. The aim is to interfere with one another as little as possible. It
provides a framework that is too narrow for the establishment of standards
for the conduct of international affairs. The emphasis is on the obligation to
abstain, based on an abstract and formal equality of states. This gives rise to
such concepts as non-intervention, diplomatic immunity, and the like.
The traditional rules of international law, described above, are chang-
ing, and they must continue to change. The law, like a traveler, must prepare
itself for tomorrow. International law is no exception. International law must
keep pace with developments in the world, otherwise it will suffer atrophy.
The world is also changing and will continue to change. Interdepen-
dence among states is growing. Interstate relations are becoming more and
more a matter of active cooperation. It is no longer a matter of passive co-
existence. The “international law of cooperation” has come to stay.
Emphasis is now on the general interest of the whole international
community. Of course, the individual interests of the states are not left

156. Their policies have become so deeply insinuated in national policies without the
concomitant accountability that usually accompanies political power. See J. Oloka-
Onyango, Beyond the Rhetoric: Reinvigorating the Struggle for Economic and Social
Rights in Africa, 26 CAL. WEST. INT’L L.J. 1, 10 (1995).

The relationship between the rich North and the poor South has
become central in international affairs. Growing disparities between the
developed and the developing countries and between population categories
are reflected in rising unemployment, deterioration in living standards,
acceleration in migratory movements, growing marginalization, and an
upsurge in poverty everywhere. These developments, and the burden of
debt servicing, has provoked a rise in social and political tensions and
conflicts and increased inequalities in the access to the right to develop-
ment.159 This imbalance between the industrialized countries and the
developing world appears to be complete; the asymmetry is abnormal and
the discrepancies frightening. These scales of imbalance make one’s head
swim. The inequalities are so fantastic! They allow some to have a surplus
and prevent others from obtaining the bare necessities.
All this is bound to lead to a major conflict situation if nothing is done
to address it. A situation where some people are the Wretched of the Earth
is inexorably endangering world peace.160 The resources of the earth belong
to the international community. They are “the common heritage of man-
kind” to borrow the expression of the Law of the Sea Convention.161 These
resources should be shared among all states in accordance with the maxim,
“to each according to his needs.”
Many different organizations spend a great deal of effort trying to find
ways to bridge this gap. They include the United Nations and its related
agencies such as the World Bank, the IMF, and the United Nations
Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Others organizations
are the Commonwealth, the Organization of African Unity (OAU), and the
Non-Aligned Movement. Their efforts, notwithstanding the disparities, are
constantly growing due in part to obstacles and incorrectly placed emphasis.
The obstacles to Third World development are many. The first major
constraint relates to insufficient transfers from multinational, bilateral, and
private sources, as compared to the growing needs.162 Then there is the
problem of unequal distribution of resources within international agencies.
The result is that social goals are at a disadvantage in comparison with
economic goals.
There is also the generalization of a sectoral approach favoring
economic growth. There is the tendency to separate macroeconomic

159. Report of the Working Group on the Right to Development on its Second Session, 5
Sept. 1994, UN Doc. E/CN.4/1995/11, excerpted in THE UNITED NATIONS AND HUMAN
RIGHTS, supra note 72, at 481.
160. See FANON, supra note 34.
161. See Convention on the Law of the Sea, adopted 10 Dec. 1982 at art. 136, U.N. A/
CONF. 62/122, reprinted in 21 I.L.M. 1261 (1982).
162. See supra note 159.
2000 Agenda for the Next Millennium 781

policies from social objectives. There is, finally, the problem of inadequate
coordination within the UN system.163
In regards to the United Nations, it must be stated here clearly that the
UN system has a responsibility to promote the right of development in the
Third World. This demands greater coordination of strategies and programs
and requires more effective cooperation in the field. It demands ongoing
consultation between specialized agencies and improved circulation of
information between them.
Further, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
(UNHCR)164 should play a more important role in the realization of the right
to development. This role is envisaged in the resolution that created the
post.165 Her key responsibilities include “the promotion and protection of
the realisation of the right to development and enhancing support from
relevant bodies of the United Nations system for that purpose.”166
Economic development and respect for human rights are the twin
foundations of peaceful and friendly relations among nations. Human rights
and economic development are interlinked and interdependent. One of the
linkages is through the firm association of each concept with the notion of
peace. Another is through the clear acceptance of economic and social
rights as well-established human rights. The two concepts are complemen-
tary to each other. They ought not to be treated as belonging to different
categories of study or enquiry.167
The legal obligation undertaken by states to promote and protect
human rights under the UN Charter,168 must extend to economic develop-
ment as well.169 This responsibility is not of a subsidiary or last-resort nature.
It reflects, as a universal principle, the unity of mankind. It reflects the
dignity and worth of all human beings. Recognition of this principle creates
new relationships between and within peoples and nations.170
The DRD stresses that states have the duty to cooperate in order to

163. See THE UNITED NATIONS AND HUMAN RIGHTS, supra note 72, at 77–78.
164. For its official Web site, see The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights,
165. See General Assembly Resolution creating the post of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights, U.N. GAOR, G.A. Res. 48/141 of 20 Dec. 1993, cited
in THE UNITED NATIONS AND HUMAN RIGHTS, supra note 72, at 471.
166. Id. art. 4.
167. See M.G. Kaladharan Nayar, Human Rights and Economic Development: The Legal
Foundation, 2 UNIVERSAL HUM. RTS. 55 (1980).
168. See e.g., U.N. CHARTER arts. 55, 56, signed 26 Jun. 1945, 59 Stat. 1031, T.S. No. 993, 3
Bevans 1153 (entered into force 24 Oct. 1945).
169. This was the consensus of international experts expressed in Montreal Statement of the
Assembly for Human Rights, March 22–27, 1968 at VII.
170. See van Boven, supra note 112, at 133.

ensure development and to eliminate obstacles to its realization.171 They

must promote a new international economic order based on sovereign
equality, interdependence, mutual interest, and cooperation.172 The prin-
ciple of self-determination requires democratization. It requires the estab-
lishment of equitable and appropriate international structures. Such struc-
tures must be open to effective and significant participation by all peoples
and all states. This is particularly important in the case of decision-making
structures dealing with economic, financial, and monetary matters.173
Translating the implementation of the right to development to the
domestic level is one of the most pressing issues. It demands international
cooperation. Article 2(1) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social
and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) preaches “international cooperation.”174 The
Copenhagen Declaration175 corroborates this. It also maintains that coun-
tries with economies in transition, which are also undergoing fundamental
political, economic, and social transformation, require the support of the
international community as well. All of these impose obligations on
developed states to assist developing states in realizing their economic,
social, and cultural rights.
Effective and sustained international cooperation is needed to provide
countries of the Third World with the appropriate means and facilities to
foster their comprehensive development. This will, no doubt, complement
the efforts of the Third World countries themselves. The developed world
must, for example, continue to pursue the very important issue of disarma-
ment, as there is a close relationship between disarmament and develop-
ment.176 Progress in the field of disarmament would considerably promote
progress in the field of development measures. Resources released through
disarmament measures should be devoted to the economic and social
development and well-being of all peoples and, in particular, those of
developing countries.
When global development is spoken of, much emphasis is put on aid to
the less developed countries. This is fine—except that it has been overem-
phasized. Development is much more than foreign aid. Aid by its very

171. See DRD, supra note 83, art.3(3).

172. See THE UNITED NATIONS AND HUMAN RIGHTS, supra note 72, at 78.
173. See id.
174. See International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, supra note 105,
art. 2(1).
175. Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development and Programme of Action of the
World Summit for Social Development, adopted 12 Mar. 1995, at Annex I, ¶ 23, U.N.
Doc. A/CONF. 166/9 (1995), available on <gopher://gopher.undp.org:70/00/unconfs/
176. See DRD, supra note 83, pmbl. ¶ 12.
2000 Agenda for the Next Millennium 783

nature is highly political. Some people mistake it for charity; it is not. It is

part of a bargain between the donor and recipient.
The donor nations, the rich countries of the North, have a surplus of
capital and know-how. They are willing to make these available to the
South or the Third World—at a price. The price varies. It may be a question
of influence. It may be a question of military base facilities. It may result in
the protection of trading, investment, or other interests. In international
politics, there is no such thing as a free lunch; everything has to be paid for.
Governments are, first and foremost, concerned about safeguarding the
interests of the people they represent.177
Real development, however, involves trade. It involves human and
political relations. It is, in fact, the whole broad meaning of the term
“international cooperation.”178 Trade barriers, to start with, must be re-
moved. These place countries of the Third World in a disadvantageous
position vis-à-vis the developed and industrialized countries. Of what use is
it to encourage free market economies in an interdependent world if trade
barriers block developing-country exports? Opening up the markets of
wealthy nations to exports from the poorest countries is a crucial pillar of
free trade.
At the moment, the exports from the forty-eight of the least developed
countries (LDCs) amount to less than half a percent of world trade.179 This is
certainly unacceptable; the rich should allow quota-free and tariff-free
access to goods from the LDCs. As the UN Secretary-general, Kofi Annan,
noted, “If the industrialized countries did more to open their markets, Africa
[and other Third World countries] could increase their exports by many
billions of dollars per year, far more than they receive in aid. For millions of
poor people this could make the difference between their present misery
and a decent life.”180
There is also the need to stabilize world commodity prices at an
equitable level. There is also the question of changing the international
division of labor. The latter will give a greater opportunity for industrializa-
tion to the less developed countries and a greater share in international
trade to their industrial or manufactured products.
Technology transfers should be considered. The assumption of almost
all of the proponents for the transfer of technology is that such a transfer is

177. See Arnold, supra note 12, at x.

178. See Okolie, supra note 157, at 3.
179. See THE GUARDIAN (Nigeria), 16 March 2000, at 40.
180. Kofi Annan, Africa: Maintaining the Momentum, Address at the 2000 Commonwealth
Lecture, in THE GUARDIAN (Nigeria), 17 March 2000, at 21.

a prerequisite for desirable economic and social development.181 Robert

Solow, for example, attributed 87.5% of the growth of per capita income in
the United States in the first half of this century to technological progress
and the remainder to the use of capital.182 The deprivation and poverty
suffered by developing countries have, on the other hand, been attributed
almost entirely to their technological dependence.183
As part of international cooperation, there should be a concerted effort
by the international community to fight corruption.184 In this regard, the
Western countries should co-operate with Third World developing countries
in their efforts to recover stolen monies by past avaricious leaders. Indeed,
corruption should be seen as a crime against humanity, for that is exactly
what it is. Corruption robs others of the basic necessities that make
existence possible; indeed, it is akin to genocide. A man who empties and
loots a nation’s treasury is wishing his fellow citizens nothing but death. He
should be seen and treated as having committed a crime against humanity.
At the bilateral level, in international aid practices, treaties and
agreements must contain human rights conditionality.185 This should go
beyond a simplistic pro-forma consideration of a country’s human rights
record. The developed world should terminate bilateral agreements to Third

182. See Solow, Technological Change and the Aggregate Production, 39 REV. ECON. &
STATISTICS (1957), quoted in Ewing, UNCTAD and the Transfer of Technology, 10 JWTL
197 (1976).
183. See generally Surendra J. Patel, The Technological Dependence of Developing
Countries, in 12 J. MOD. AFR. STUD. 9–13 (1974).
184. Previous attempts to put this in the agenda of the International Law Commission for
deliberation did not receive the approval of the Commission. One hopes that in the
immediate future, the Commission will revisit this crucial issue and place it in its agenda
for development and possible codification.
185. See, e.g., Lome IV Convention of November 4, 1885, art. 5, in ACP-EU COURIER NO. 155,
Jan.–Feb. 1996, at 11. “Cooperation shall be directed towards development centred on
man, the main protagonist and beneficiary of development, which thus entails respect
for and promotion of all human rights.” Id. The Resolution of the Council of European
Communities and of the Member States on Human Rights, Democracy and Develop-
ment, 28 Nov. 1991, is also worthy of note: “The Community and its Member states will
explicitly introduce the consideration of relations with developing countries: human
rights clauses will be inserted in future cooperation agreements. Regular discussions on
human rights and democracy will be held, within the framework of development
cooperation, with the aim of seeking improvement.” In 1992, the Council of Europe
issued statements on Zaire, Togo, Burundi, Kenya, Algeria, and Equatorial Guinea on
human rights situations with a view “to heighten public awareness issues and bring
pressure to bear on the governments I question to change their attitudes.” See Report on
the Implementation of the Resolution of the Council and of the Member States Meeting
in the Council on Human Rights, Democracy and Development, adopted on 28 Nov.
1991, Comm’n of the Eur. Communities, SEC (92) 1915, final communique, Brussels
2000 Agenda for the Next Millennium 785

World countries whose governments violate the human rights of its citizens
in a gross, continuous, and systematic fashion. They should re-direct such
aid to the same population through local non-governmental organizations.186
The Western world must redirect the monetary and financial flows in a
manner more compatible with the imperatives of development.187 It should
also take the issue of debt relief very seriously.188 It must realize that the
monies it gave to the Third World by way of loans were monies stashed
away in foreign banks by greedy Third World leaders. The monies belong to
the Third World!
International cooperation must bring to bear a concerted effort to tackle
the obstacles to democracy. The West must recognize that underdeveloped
societies are not likely to become democratic. Democracy will not thrive in
instability. The West cannot simultaneously demand democracy and deny
development. It cannot expect people to cherish the ballots when their
stomachs are empty. Of what use is the right to vote to a hungry and angry
man? “The right to peaceful assembly, free speech and thought, fair trial,
etc. . . . appeal to people with a full stomach.”189 Therefore, the World Bank,
the IMF, the World Trade Organization, and other bilateral aid programs of
the West should do more in the area of development. Indeed, concepts
contained in the DRD should form, within their areas of competence, an
integral part of the policies and programs of these institutions. Action that
advances development is far more valuable in promoting democracy and
human rights than the admonition of the West. The Third World is asking for
action, not preaching, for action speaks louder than words. Again, practice
is better than precepts.
What are the tools for this development? They are the same as the tools
for democracy. They include education, the advancement of women, rule of
law, an independent press and judiciary, as well as freedom of expression
and assembly. These are the fundamental concepts underlying develop-
ment. If the developed world is serious about rendering assistance to the
Third World, it should place emphasis on these and related areas. It must

186. See Edward Broadbent, Human Rights and Democratic Development, in HUMAN RIGHTS
187. See Georges Abi-Saab, supra note 102, at 171.
188. It is gratifying to note that the Nigerian government of Olusegun Obasanjo is seriously
discussing with Western nations on the possibility of debt relief for the country. There
appears to be positive signs. It is reported that Canada has cancelled Nigeria’s debts to
her. See THE GUARDIAN (Nigeria), 21 Aug. 1999, at 3. Other Third World leaders should
follow suit.
189. Claude Ake, The African Context of Human Rights, AFRICA TODAY 5 (1987). Cf. Rhoda
Howard, The “Full-Belly” Thesis: Should Economic Rights Take Priority over Civil and
Political Rights? Evidence from sub-Saharan Africa, 15 HUM. RTS. Q. 467 (1983).

recognize that it has a duty to assist the less prosperous societies. And it
should do it in the spirit of partnership, practicality, and friendship, not in
condescension or with impatience.190


This article has attempted to show, in the last section, that developing Third
World countries have primary responsibility for their own economic and
social development in accordance with their priorities and plans, as well as
their political and cultural diversities. The article has also shown that
developed countries have a special responsibility, in the context of growing
interdependence, to create a global economic environment favorable to
accelerated and sustainable development.
As we begin the new millennium, it must be quickly pointed out that
the problems of the world will not all be solved. We do not even quite know
the shape of the problems. We do not, therefore, know the requirements for
solution. However, one thing is certain: the basic problems of mankind—
food, clothing, and shelter—will remain. These needs, however, vary in
degrees from country to country.
In a study dating from 1981, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to
self-determination stressed that development must be defined in each
specific context and must be based on popular participation. Thus,
development can be neither exported nor imported. It presupposes taking into
consideration numerous economic, technical and social parameters and estab-
lishing priorities and setting growth rates on the basis of knowledge of needs,
conditions and external possibilities. It presupposes the participation of the
entire people inspired by a common ideal, and individual and collective
creativity in devising the most adequate solutions to problems arising from local
conditions, needs and aspirations.191
Countries of the Third World must, in the words of the Copenhagen
Declaration,192 “respond more effectively to the material and spiritual needs
of individuals, their families and the communities in which they live
throughout our diverse countries and regions.” They must do so as a matter
of urgency and with sustained and unshakeable commitment through the
years ahead.

190. See Petronella Maramba, Development and Human Rights: Introduction, in HUMAN
191. See U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/Sub.2/404/Rev.1).
192. See Copenhagen Declaration, supra note 21, at 3.
2000 Agenda for the Next Millennium 787

The implementation of the DRD requires perseverance and concrete

efforts. This dynamic process should be pursued at all appropriate levels. It
should include the elaboration of international and national strategies. It
requires the effective contribution of states, international organs, and
organizations active in the field.
Countries of the Third World must go back to the drawing board. They
must begin to retrace their steps. And the sooner the better for time is
running out. There is little time left before their economies become
permanently distorted. Now is the time to begin to put in place sound and
effective national and international policies of economic and social devel-
opment. The achievement of lasting progress in the implementation of
human rights is dependent on these.193 The Third World must be ready to
pay for development. The price may be high, but so too are the stakes are
getting higher.

193. See e.g., G.A. Res. 32/130 Dec. 1977.