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More traditionally, development was seen as “development aid” or “ development cooperation” mainly given by governments, churches or religious groups and NGO’s to those in need.
Although not mentioned as such specifically, 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.
Linking human rights and development progressed over the second half of the 20th century. Resulting in the 1986, UN Declaration on the Right to Development, making the right to development explicit.
The Declaration on the Right to Development states that
"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."
After this very broad description of the right to development, the World Conference on Human Rights, held in Vienna in 1993, reaffirmed by consensus the right to development as a universal and inalienable right and an integral part of fundamental human rights.
And under the 1993 UN General Assembly resolution A/RES/48/141, the responsibilities of the High Commissioner include promoting and protecting the realisation of the right to development and enhancing support from relevant bodies of the United Nation system for that purpose.
Obviously the introduction of the Millennium Development Goals, also sparked the human rights approach to development. Also outside of the UN context.
To give an example: The 2002 Conference of the International Law Association, held in New Delhi, concluded its session through the New Delhi Declaration of Principles of International Law Relating to Sustainable Development. In this it is set out that the conference “...is of the opinion ... that the realisation of the international bill of human rights, comprising economic, social and cultural rights, civil and political rights and peoples’ rights, is central to the pursuance of sustainable development".
A UN Working Group on the Right to Development”, now reorting to the UN Human Rights Council, distributed a report in 2006 in which it links Millennium Development Goal 8 (on a global partnership for development) with the realisation of the universal human right to development. It further provides with extensive recommendations regarding the Human Right to Development.
The future of the human right to development depends to a large extent on what will happen with the ideas of the Human Rights Council’s Working Group.
A human rights’ approach to development is clearly gaining popularity and support in International Law and practise. Everybody’s right to development demands a global institutional order which guarantees it.
Because we all 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 realised, if we strive for a sustainable future on this planet!