Development and Human Rights

Reflections on Human Rights Today
Amnesty International 30 May 2007
Development and
Human Rights
Dr Su-ming Khoo
Dept of Political Science and Sociology
NUI Galway
Development and rights
The Human Right To Development
 RTD is contested, but has core value
 Indivisibility - a historic obligation
 What RTD emphasises
the human person, participation,non-discrimination,
substantive processes, tools
 Further reading
Development and rights
Cold War divisions undermine UDHR
The Empire of Liberty vs. the Empire of Justice
HR in the West ideologically distanced from
economic and social rights despite welfare state
“Economic Development” as a Cold War strategy
Economism of development
Seers (1969) the meaning of development
Critique of economism (means and ends)
Turn to humanism and ethics
Development of WHAT?
Countries? Peoples? Persons?
Postcolonialism – self-determination, collective rights,
international obligations (Bandung 1955, NIEO 1974)
Sen (1993, 1999) Human functionings, capabilities,
Development – a tall order
A process of economic growth, expanding
output and employment
Institutional transformation and technological
progress of a country
“…that steadily improves the well-being of all
people” (E/CN.4/2004/WG.18/2)
Definition of the human right
to development
a right to “a particular process of development in which
all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully realized”
Emphasises rights-based (non-discriminatory) access to
goods/services corresponding to the realization of
different rights
First proposed by Keba M’Baye 1972,
Working Group est. 1981 – influences African Charter
1986 UN Declaration on Right to Development
Open ended WG + Ind. Expert 1998
Reaffirmed Vienna 1993, Millennium Declaration 2000 etc.
The human right to
development does NOT…
Provide a legally binding obligation on the
part of developed countries to provide
development assistance
OR Constitute a new human right that
“trumps” other existing rights
The human right to
development DOES
Take the global partnerships approach (MDG8)
further and ground it in human rights
Encourage us to critically evaluate globalization
and understand its impact on human rights
Underline the responsibility and accountability
of governments, donors, recipients, IMF/WB/WTO
RTD is contested 1
Developed countries disagree that they have
a legal obligation to provide assistance
Developing countries feel they have a right
to development assistance due in part to
legacy of colonialism/ neocolonialism
Contesting development/ globalisation
‘The concerns of decolonized states were
translated into demands for greater recognition
of economic, social and cultural rights,
international recognition that colonialism and
neocolonialism were gross violations of
international human rights law, and the push to
recognize development cooperation as an
obligation owed by former colonial powers,
rather than as an act of charity’ (Orford, 1991: 131)
RTD is contested 2
Fear of RTD as “trumps”?
Emphasis on communities, not individuals a dangerous
“…delusion of well-meaning optimists” (Donnelly 1985:489)
“…something of a mantra for states seeking to
justify the privileging of economic development over human
rights and to legitimize repressive or authoritarian policies”
(Orford 2001: 132)
Repressive “Asian developmentalism” (Ghai 1994)
RTD emphasises interdependence and indivisibility
RTD’s core focus
The human person is the central subject of
development and should be the active participant
and beneficiary of the right to development
The State is only an agent through which
individual rights are asserted vis-à-vis the
international community (Alston 1994:512)
RTD as ends and process
Other rights are ends, process is the means
“the right of people to…improved realization
of different human rights, as well as the right
to the process itself”
Requires resources – goods and services
Duty bearers are primarily States, but also
the international community
I saw the angel in the marble and
carved until I set him free.
Alston, P (1985) The Shortcomings of a Garfield the Cat Approach to the Right to Development
California Western International Law Journal 510
Baxi, U ‘The Development of the Right to Development’ in J. Symonides Ed.
Bedjaoui, M ‘The Right to Development’
Ghai, (1994) ‘Human rights and Governance: The Asia Debate’ 15 Australian Year
Book of International Law 1
M’Baye, K. (1972) ‘Le droit au développement comme un droit de l’homme’ Revue des droit de
l’homme 1972 503
Orford, Anne (2001) Globalization and the Right to Development in P. Alston (ed)
People’s Rights OUP
Piron, Laure-Hélène (2002) ‘The Right to Development: A review of the Current State of the Debate