Development as a Human Right: Legal, Political, and Economic Dimensions


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The intrinsic links between economics and human rights has led some scholars and practitioners to affirm that if strategies of economic development and policies to implement human rights are united, they will reinforce one another and improve the human condition.

This book draws on the papers presented at the Nobel Symposium on The Right to Development and Human Rights in Development. Opening with ...

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Download PDF of corrected version of Chapter 2

The intrinsic links between economics and human rights has led some scholars and practitioners to affirm that if strategies of economic development and policies to implement human rights are united, they will reinforce one another and improve the human condition.

This book draws on the papers presented at the Nobel Symposium on The Right to Development and Human Rights in Development. Opening with an essay by Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen, the book contains chapters by experts in the fields of philosophy, economics, international law, and international relations on the conceptual underpinnings of development as a human right, the national dimensions of this right, and the role of international institutions. The contributors explore the meaning and practical implications of human rights-based approaches to economic development and ask what this relationship may add to our understanding and thinking about human and global development.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674021211
  • Publisher: FXB Center for Health and Human Rights
  • Publication date: 11/28/2006
  • Series: Harvard Series on Health and Human Rights
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 350
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Bård A. Andreassen is an associate professor at the Norwegian Center for Human Rights and Director of Research (human rights and development) at the Law Faculty, University of Oslo.

Stephen P. Marks is the François-Xavier Bagnoud Professor of Health and Human Rights at the Harvard School of Public Health

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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 Human rights and development 1
Ch. 2 The human right to development 9
Ch. 3 The implications and value added of a rights-based approach 36
Ch. 4 Obligations to implement the right to development : philosophical, political, and legal rationales 57
Ch. 5 The right to development and its corresponding obligations 79
Ch. 6 International human rights obligations in context : structural obstacles and the demands of global justice 96
Ch. 7 Development and the human rights responsibilities of non-state actors 119
Ch. 8 Redesigning the state for "right development" 141
Ch. 9 Making a difference : human rights and development - reflecting on the South African experience 167
Ch. 10 Towards implementing the right to development : a framework for indicators and monitoring methods 196
Ch. 11 Human rights-based development in the age of economic globalization : background and prospects 220
Ch. 12 Globalization and the human rights approach to development 254
Ch. 13 Advocating the right to development through complaint procedures under human rights treaties 274
Ch. 14 The role of the international financial institutions in a rights-based approach to the process of development 284
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Foreword Louise Arbour, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

This book is a timely collection of excellent scholarly writing on the right to development and the related concept of human rights-based development. It is all the more welcome as the signs of purposive engagement and a gradual convergence of positions are becoming more and more manifest among the various actors — the Member States, international institutions, and civil society — on different aspects of development of relevance to the implementation of this right. I see this in the global consensus articulated in the 2000 Millennium Declaration, the 2002 Monterrey Consensus of the International Conference on Financing for Development and in the 2005 Summit Outcome. This convergence is even more palpable in the work of the UN human rights bodies that deal with this right, in particular, the Commission on Human Rights, its Working Group on the Implementation of the Right to Development and the High Level Task Force. Political responsibility has now passed to the newly created Human Rights Council to propose critical steps to make the current process of globalization work towards improving the well-being of people, in every corner of the world.

After twenty years of reaffirming its value, the right to development should be a high priority on the human rights agenda of governments and civil society everywhere; however, it continues to be more a matter of political commitment than of practical policy and action that can affect people's lives. I believe that two challenges need to be met before this right can be taken seriously in policy and action. The first is to create a robust the concept of development, capable of incorporating the principles that underlie the right to development; the second is to identify the practical steps to implement this right, similar to the rights that are operational in the law and administration of Member States.

A Robust Concept of Development

The concept of development has become more robust in recent times and it is more widely recognized that human rights and human development share a common purpose. Development has evolved from material attainments and economic growth to a broad based notion of human development. As the essays in this book clearly bring out, economic growth is only negative to the extent that it impedes rather than enhances the freedom, well-being and dignity of all people everywhere and threatens the resources on which we depend. Similarly, the increase in exchange of ideas, images, goods, people and money, which we call globalization, is not necessarily negative if it can be harnessed to reduce rather than increase disparities, and to empower communities rather than alienate them from the process of development.

The real purpose to the right to development is to secure the harmonization of the aspirations toward the material improvement of the human condition with the aspirations of freedom and dignity. Neither objective is possible under conditions of poverty. Poverty often results from willful neglect and discrimination. Lack of adequate development or development that permits exclusion and discrimination in access to and allocation of resources paves the way to increased inequality and marginalization of the poor and the vulnerable. It denies them their human rights. Economic and social inequalities create differences in access to political power, access to justice and access to basic goods and services, all of which are essential for the full realization of human rights.

The process of development must strive to realize all human rights entitlements of all rights holders. This is particularly relevant for the poor and the marginalized. For them it is necessary that the development process move away from a needs-based exercise in charity and assistance to one that creates and sustains genuine entitlements that span all aspects of their life — economic, social, and cultural, as well as the civil and political.

Putting Concepts Into Practice

The second challenge the essays in this book underscore is to translate political commitment into development practice. The key here is to anchor the process of empowering people to exercise their choices and freedoms within the human rights framework. While human rights standards and principles have to provide the parameters for the articulation and the conduct of the development policies and programs, the process has to lead to enforceable human rights and the relevant political, legislative and administrative institutions to ensure that the benefits of this process will reach the poorest and the most vulnerable.

Development with social justice cannot be achieved in the absence of respect for human rights. Indeed, the possibility for people themselves to claim their rights through legal processes is essential so that human rights have a meaning for those most at the margins, a vindication of their equal worth and human agency. International human rights law emphasizes judicial remedies for violations of rights, though administrative remedies can also be acceptable if they are "timely, accessible, affordable and effective." Potentially, all human rights have justiciable elements. Effective judicial enforcement depends more on courts being granted the authority to hear claims, than on the inherent nature of the rights. Similarly, litigation and examination of individual and group petitions at the international level can both help to develop understanding of the substantive content of international norms and lead to real change for individuals by helping them to take charge of their lives.

All human rights must be given effect at the national level. The States have the primary responsibility for economic and social development and the role of national policies and development strategies cannot be overemphasized. There has to be an enabling environment — legal, political, economic and social — sensitive and reflective of the local context for the realization of the right to development. The creation of such an environment hinges critically on the individually and collectively motivations of States to apply, observe and adjudicate, in the process of development, the human rights standards and the principles of participation, accountability, non-discrimination, equality, empowerment and international cooperation. The principles should guide national development initiatives and inform and inspire the international efforts to "make the right to development a reality for all," in the words of the Millennium Declaration.

The moral and ethical motivations of collective responsibility for development, and even for humanitarian assistance, are not always translated into firm commitments or concrete actions. This gap between intention and action has undermined the credibility of the international community in the eyes of those who must rely on international support. The recent international response to natural catastrophes has been a display of swift practical solidarity in times of crisis, but it has also been too slow and too limited, as has been the global commitment and efforts to scale-up the treatment and care programs for malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. We must ensure that collective action based on genuine partnerships and cooperation is mobilized to overcome development challenges and create the necessary conditions for effective and sustainable local action.

By addressing duties and responsibilities at both the national and international levels, this book provides context, background, normative frameworks and policy recommendations that merit the careful consideration of scholars, practitioners, diplomats, and activists. We are grateful to the Nobel Institute for convening the Nobel Symposium on the Right to Development and Human Rights in Development. It fell to Professors Marks and Ardreassen to collect in this volume the views and experiences of the worlds leading authorities on the topic, who participated in the Symposium. Their own contributions and those of the outstanding group of authors they brought together combine the highest level of theoretical reflection with a concern with finding practical ways, based on experience, to make progress on the implementation of the right to development and human rights-based development. My Office is committed to using the ideas and analysis contained in these contributions in its own efforts to identify and advocate strategies that will move the right to development further toward the daily reality of human rights practice. In the end, the right to development informs our quest for dignity at home, and our vision of globalization for the world.

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