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Introduction

The right to development can be rooted in the provisions of the Charter of the
United Nations, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the two
International Human Rights Covenants.

Through the United Nations Charter, Member States undertook to "promote social
progress and better standards of life in larger freedom" and "to achieve
international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social,
cultural or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for
human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race,
sex, language or religion."

The Universal Declaration on Human Rights contains a number of elements that


became central to the international community's understanding of the right to
development. It attaches importance, for example, to the promotion of social
progress and better standards of life and recognizes the right to non-discrimination,
the right to participate in public affairs and the right to an adequate standard of
living. It also contains everyone's entitlement to a social and international order in
which the rights and freedoms set forth in the Declaration can be fully realized.

An important step towards the recognition of the right to development was UN


General Assembly resolution 1161 (XII). In this resolution, 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."

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This theme was taken up at the International Conference on Human Rights, held in
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, from 22 April to 13 May 1968. The Conference
expressed its belief "that the enjoyment of economic and social rights is inherently
linked with any meaningful and profound interconnection between the realization
of human rights and economic development." It recognized "the collective
responsibility of the international community to ensure the attainment of the
minimum standard of living necessary for the enjoyment of human rights and
fundamental freedoms by all persons throughout the world."

In 1969, the General Assembly, in its resolution 2542 (XXIV), adopted the
Declaration on Social Progress and Development, which states that "social
progress and development shall aim at the continuous raising of the material and
spiritual standards of living of all members of society, with respect for and in
compliance with human rights and fundamental freedoms."

In its resolution 4 (XXXIII) of 21 February 1977, the UN Commission on Human


Rights decided to pay special attention to consideration of the obstacles impeding
the full realization of economic, social and cultural rights, particularly in
developing countries, and of national and international action to secure the
enjoyment of those rights. Recognizing the right to development as a human right,
the Commission requested the UN Secretary-General to undertake a study on "the
international dimensions of the right to development as a human right in relation
with other human rights based on international cooperation, including the right to
peace, taking into account the requirements of the New International Economic
Order and fundamental human needs." The study was submitted and considered by
the Commission on Human Rights at its thirty-fifth session in 1979.

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The Commission subsequently, by its resolution 36 (XXXVII) of 11 March 1981,
established a working group of 15 governmental experts to study the scope and
contents of the right to development and the most effective means to ensure the
realization, in all countries, of the economic, social and cultural rights enshrined in
various international instruments, paying particular attention to the obstacles
encountered by developing countries in their efforts to secure the enjoyment of
human rights. It also requested the Working Group to submit a report with concrete
proposals for implementation of the right to development and for a draft
international instrument on this subject.

The right to development was proclaimed by the United Nations in 1986 in the
"Declaration on the Right to Development" which was adopted by the United
Nations General Assembly resolution 41/128.

As follow-up mechanism to ensure promotion and implementation of the


Declaration on the Right to Development, the Commission established an
intergovernmental Working Group on the Right to Development in 1998, and
its high-level task force on the implementation of the right to development in 2004.

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Right to Development as a Human Right

The existence of a right to development was first asserted in 1977. Following


many years of debate, that was centred on the conceptual differences
regarding the right and the political differences of states that reflected the cold war
tensions, the General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Right to
Development (DRD) in 1986, proclaiming that:
“T h e r i ght t o d e v e l o p m e n t i s a n inalienable human right by
virtue of which every human person and
all peoples are entitled to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic,
s o c i a l , c u l t u r a l a n d p o l i t i c a l
development, in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully
realized.”

And in 1993, it was declared that the right to development is “a universal


and inalienable right and an integral part of fundamental human rights”.
And nowadays, references to the right to development are seen in all major U N
documents. The right includes: full sovereignty over
natural resources, self-d e t e r m i n a t i o n , popular
participation in development, equality of opportunity and the
c r e a t i o n o f f a v o u r a b l e c o n d i t i o ns f o r t h e enjoyment of other civil,
political, economic, social and cultural rights.

The r i g h t t o d e v e l o p m e n t , b y incorporating all


human rights and recognizing that all rights and freedoms are indivisible and

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interdependent, is presented as a fusion of all human rights and fundamental
freedoms. I t i s these rights and freedoms that protect our dignity as
human beings, and the enjoyment of all human rights is facilitated through
the right to development. There is universal consensus that development is
important to humanity as it would enable every person in the world to enjoy their
rights and freedoms– c i v i l a n d p o l i t i ca l , e c o n o mi c , s oc i a l a n d cultural
as well as other specified rights and to pursue what they value.

This idea is not only “appealing”, but is the primary objective and the means
of d e v e l o p m e n t . When the fundamental freedoms are
ensured, people are empowered, through their human rights, to

“…resist torture, arbitrary incarceration and racial discrimination to demanding an


end to hunger and starvation, and to medical neglect across the globe.” Freedom is
essential to the realisation of these rights as to be “free is to be unrestrained by others
in the pursuit of one’ sends”, and freedom is valuable because it provides opportunities
to pursue our objectives and things that we value. It also ensures that one is not forced
into something because of constraints imposed by others. Consider a person in a least
developed nation who wants to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor, but have to give up on
that dream because she is denied even the basic education, due to the lack of schools in her
village. When she grows up she is forced to resorting to prostitution as a means of
survival. While this may (or may not) bring in money, the lack of choice and opportunity
through the lack of freedom is humiliating and takes away her human dignity. There is
the lack of opportunity to get oneself educated, to seek medical help when infected with
HIV, the lack of choice of work, or to escape the freedom of starvation. To develop therefore,
means the removal of this lack of freedom “…that leave people with little choice and

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little opportunity of exercising their reasoned agency. The removal of substantive u n
f r e e d o m s … i s c o n s t i t u t i v e o f development.”

The right to development would therefore ensure the eradication of the


various constraints that lock humans in impoverishment and deprivation, in terms
of material goods and the ability to exercise their rights. Specific reference to the
cooperation to eliminate the obstacles to development is therefore made in the Vienna
Declaration, and Article 28 of the UDHR which state that “Everyone is entitled to a
social International order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this declaration can
be fully realized” could be inferred to imply a right to the removal of the impediments
to development.

Interpreted in this way, the developed community could act not to deny the rights
of those who are unable to realise their rights due to lack of development. The
UDHR reminds that “Everyone owes duties to the community” and this
community is not only the neighbouring countries, but is also the global community. For
Rawls, a decent society or community is one that honours the basic human rights that
respect the humanity of its members, and these rights includes among others, a minimum
right to the means of subsistence. A decent people does not let its members die of
starvation. The rights to education or health would be less useful as rights that
respect human dignity when there are no ways of realising them through the
availability of schools or hospitals. And the rights to freedom of assembly, speech, and
political participation matter little when daily life is a struggle for survival.
The realization of these rights and a life in dignity then require an adequate standard of
living. “A fully human life cannot be achieved…if the availability of social goods
is so reduced that life itself becomes nothing more than a struggle to survive.” And
development, as “a comprehensive economic, social, cultural and political process …aims at
the constant improvement of the well-being of the entire population and of all
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individuals…” This improvement would entail a standard of living adequate for the
health and well-being and development would mean improvement in this well-being,
which can be described as the level of realization of the fundamental rights.

The right to development could then be seen to derive from the inherent dignity of the
human person because it helps to attain both freedom and wellbeing, which is what,
gives the humans their equal worth. As content of the right to development is founded on
the Bill of Human Rights, the legal basis for the right to development can therefore be
derived from the UDHR, the Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and Economic, Social
and Cultural Rights.

However, not everyone is satisfied with that there is any moral or legal basis for the right
to development. Much in the same manner that human rights have been denied as some
to exist and that belief in them equals belief in witches and unicorns, the right to
development has also been said to be nothing more than a mythical unicorn. Criticism is
levelled at the right to development as it being meaningless, dangerous, and
catastrophic and a total failure, in that states will be unable to fully realize all of its
components. But it is worth noting that something cannot be both equally meaningless
and dangerous because that which is meaningless is unlikely to be dangerous.
As mentioned earlier, the right to development is one of the third generation rights and
Donnelly sees that the use of the term ‘generation’ is dangerous because it would mean
that the solidarity rights would replace the already established preceding generation of
rights. But this interpretation is erroneous as generations of rights do not make each
other obsolete but add upon each other and the right to development derives its basis from the
interconnected of all the rights and development is needed to realize of these rights. It is
this striking feature of the right to development in asserting the unity of all human
rights that its rejection equates to the rejection of even some of the other basic rights.

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Another contention that Donnelly finds to be dangerous is the claim to be developed, as
distinct from a right to pursue development. But the right to development does not assert that
the human individual should be fully developed or that it is the end the right is seeking to
achieve. It asserts that we have a right to pursue development, to the base on which one can
construct a meaningful life through freedom and well-being. As noted above, it forms the
means as well as the ends. Furthermore, the realisation of rights does not have to be in
full or may end up not being fulfilled, even in the case of civil and political rights where it
would seem that resources play little role. But no state can afford a police force
adequate enough to secure the right to life of every citizen.

However, the aspect of Donnelly’s argument that continues as one of the challenges to
the right to development is the difficulty in determining who is to exercise the
right. As with all third generation rights, it is uncertain of its holder and the duty-
bearer.

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What is the Right to Development?

The Preamble of the Declaration on the Right to Development states "development


is a comprehensive economic, social, cultural and political process, which aims at
the constant improvement of the well-being of the entire population and of all
individuals on the basis of their active, free and meaningful participation in
development and in the fair distribution of benefits resulting therefrom."

“The right to development is an inalienable human right by virtue of which every


human person and all peoples are entitled to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy
economic, social, cultural and political development, in which all human rights and
fundamental freedoms can be fully realized.” (Article 1.1, Declaration on the Right
to Development) “The human right to development also implies the full realization
of the right of peoples to self-determination, which includes, subject to the relevant
provisions of both International Covenants on Human Rights, the exercise of their
inalienable right to full sovereignty over all their natural wealth and resources.”
(Article 1.2)

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United Nations Mechanisms dealing with the Right to Development

The intergovernmental open-ended Working Group on the Right to Development


was established in 1998. The Working Group meets once a year and reports to the
Human Rights Council (HRC) and the GA. Its mandate is inter alia: (a) to monitor
and review progress made in the promotion and implementation of the right to
development as elaborated in the Declaration, at the national and international
levels, providing recommendations thereon and further analyzing obstacles to its
full enjoyment…; (b) to review reports and any other information submitted by
States, United Nations agencies, other relevant international organizations and non-
governmental organizations on the relationship between their activities and the
right to development; and (c) to present for the consideration of the HRC a
sessional report on its deliberations, including advice to the Office of the United
Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) with regard to the
implementation of the right to development, and suggesting possible programmes
of technical assistance at the request of interested countries with the aim of
promoting the implementation of this right. Until April 2010, the Working Group
was supported by the high-level task force on the implementation of the right to
development, established in 2004 with the composition of five independent
experts, to provide expert advice to the Working Group2. At the request of the
Working Group, the high-level task force proposed a set of criteria and
corresponding operational sub-criteria3 for the implementation of the right to
development.

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What is the added value of the Right to Development?

The right to development provides a comprehensive framework and approach to


the policies and programmes of all relevant actors at the global, regional, sub-
regional and national levels as this right –

 integrates aspects of both human rights and development theory and


practice;
 encompasses all human rights – civil, political, economic, social and
cultural;
 requires active, free and meaningful participation;
 involves both national and international dimensions of State responsibilities
including in the creation of an enabling environment for development and
favourable conditions for all human rights;
 demands comprehensive and human-centred development policy,
participatory development processes, social justice and equity;
 embodies the human rights principles of equality, non-discrimination,
participation, transparency, accountability as well as international
cooperation in an integrated manner;
 implies the principles of self-determination and full sovereignty over natural
wealth and resources;
 facilitates a holistic approach to the issue of poverty by addressing its
systemic and structural causes;
 strengthens the basis for pro-poor growth with due attention to the rights of
the most marginalized;

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 fosters friendly relations between states, international solidarity, cooperation
and assistance in areas of concern to developing countries, including
technology transfer, access to essential medicines, debt sustainability,
development aid, international trade and policy space in decision-making.

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How can the right to development be operationalized in practical
terms?

With the purpose of translating the right to development from political


commitment to development practice, the criteria proposed by the high-level task
force were designed to serve as an operational tool to:

 assess the extent to which States are individually and collectively taking
steps to establish, promote and sustain national and international
arrangements that create an enabling environment for the realization of the
right to development;
 serve as a useful tool for stakeholders to assess the current state of the
implementation of the right to development and facilitate its further
realization at the international and national levels;
 contribute to mainstreaming the right to development in the policies and
operational activities of relevant actors at the national, regional and
international levels, including multilateral financial, trade and development
institutions; and
 evaluate the human rights implications of development and trade policies
and programmes.

The operationalization of the right to development also requires application of the


above-mentioned human rights principles and good governance to the activities of
all relevant stakeholders at both the national and international levels.

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The Declaration on the Right to Development

The Declaration on the Right to Development defines such right as "an inalienable
human right by virtue of which every human person and all peoples are entitled to
participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political
development, in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully
realized." (Article 1)

The Right to Development includes:

 full sovereignty over natural resources


 self-determination
 popular participation in development
 equality of opportunity
 the creation of favourable conditions for the enjoyment of other civil,
political, economic, social and cultural rights

The human person is identified as the beneficiary of the right to development, as of


all human rights. The right to development can be invoked both by individuals and
by peoples. It imposes obligations both on individual States - to ensure equal and
adequate access to essential resources - and on the international community - to
promote fair development policies and effective international cooperation.

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Centre/State Acts and Rules on Right to Development

Following are some of the acts on the right to development in India:-

1. Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) refers


to the world's largest welfare program, run by the Government of India.

It is a job guarantee scheme for rural Indians. It was enacted by legislation on 25


August 2005. The scheme provides a legal guarantee for at least 100 days of paid
employment in every financial year to adult members of any household willing to
do unskilled manual work related to public work at the statutory minimum
wage of 120 per day in 2009 prices. If they fail to do so the government has to
pay the salary at their homes. The central government outlay for the scheme was
4000 billion in Financial Year 2010–11.

This act was introduced with the aim of improving the purchasing power of semi-
or un-skilled rural people of India, irrespective of whether or not they fell below
the poverty line. Around one-third of the stipulated work force is women. The law
was initially called the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) and
was renamed with the prefix "Mahatma Gandhi" on 2 October 2009, Gandhi's birth
anniversary.

In 2011, the program was widely criticized as no more effective than other poverty
reduction programs in India. Despite its best intentions, MGNREGA is beset with
controversy about corrupt officials, deficit financing as the source of funds, poor

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quality of infrastructure built under this program, and unintended counter-
productive destructive effects on the rural economy and inflation.

2. Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act or Right to


Education Act (RTE), is an Indian legislation enacted by the Parliament of India on
4 August 2009, which describes the modalities of the importance of free and
compulsory education for children between 6 and 14 in India under Article 21a of
the Indian Constitution. India became one of 135 countries to make education a
fundamental right of every child when the act came into force on 1 April 2010.

Present Act has its history in the drafting of the Indian constitution at the time of
Independence but is more specifically to the Constitutional Amendment that
included the Article 21A in the Indian constitution making Education a
fundamental Right. This amendment, however, specified the need for a legislation
to describe the mode of implementation of the same which necessitated the
drafting of a separate Education Bill.

3. National Food Security Bill, 2013

The Indian National Food Security Bill, 2013 (also Right to Food Bill), was signed
into law September 12, 2013. This law aims to provide subsidized food grains to
approximately two thirds of India's 1.2 billion people. Under the provisions of the
bill, beneficiaries are to be able to purchase 5 kilograms per eligible person per
month of cereals at the following prices:

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 rice at 3 per kg

 wheat at 2 (3.1¢ US) per kg

 coarse grains (millet) at 1 (1.5¢ US) per kg.

Pregnant women, lactating mothers, and certain categories of children are eligible
for daily free meals.

This Bill is referred as the "biggest ever experiment in the world for distributing
highly subsidized food by any government through a ‘rights based’ approach." The
Bill extends coverage of the Targeted Public Distribution System, India's principal
domestic food aid program, to two thirds of the population, or approximately 820
million people.

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Bibliography

 Human Rights in India: Issues and Perspectives by S. Mehartaj, 2000


 Perspectives on Human Rights by V. K. Gupta, 1996
 Human Rights and the Law by Jaswal & Jaswal, 1996
 http://www.un.org/en/events/righttodevelopment/pdf/rtd_at_a_glance
 http://ssa.nic.in/rte-docs/free%20and%20compulsory
 http://nhrc.nic.in/documents/LibDoc/Right_to_Developement_A.
 http://www.thehindu.com/multimedia/archive/01404/National_Food_Secu_1
404268
 http://nhrc.nic.in/documents/LibDoc/Right_to_Developement_F.
 http://nhrc.nic.in/documents/LibDoc/Right_to_Developement_C.
 Right to Development, NHRC, India, nhrc.nic.in

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