Marking the 25th Anniversary of the Right to Development UN team in Brussels makes remarks to European Parliament

Antonio-VigilanteAntonio Vigilante, UN Director in BrusselsOn behalf of the United Nations team in Brussels, Antonio Vigilante, UN Director in Brussels along with Jan Jarab, Director of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Brussels addressed the Development Committee of the European Parliament on 8 December 2011 on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development. Following is the full text of the remarks:



The United Nations team in Brussels welcomes this opportunity to mark the 25th anniversary of the UN Declaration on Right to Development in the Development Committee of the European Parliament.

What is the Right to Development?

In essence, it is the search for a global order that delivers on human rights, equity and social justice, the right of the individual to development.

It highlights the obligations of States’ “duty to cooperate with each other in ensuring development and eliminating obstacles to development”.

What is distinctive?

The Declaration enhances the accountability of the international community as duty-bearers to eliminate structural impediments to development.

It focuses on the problems created by actions – or inaction – of States that undermine the right to development of people in other States. Indeed, contention about the Declaration on the Right to Development lies around this issue of collective responsibilities.

We have three points to bring to the attention of the European Parliament:

1. Post-Lisbon Europe mirrors the three pillars of the United Nations’ work: peace and security, human rights and development. The UN Secretary-General emphasizes that Right to Development reinforces the intrinsic linkages between the pillars – each embodying constraints and opportunities to advancing said right.

Is the European Union making the most of its potential to leverage the inter-linkages in its own interventions on security and human rights in order to advance global development? Or is there – as we believe – still enormous untapped potential?

2. MDG Goal 8 refers to the international dimensions of the Right to Development. As the MDG Gap Task Force Report, presented to this Committee in October, highlights, there are gross failures of all States to fulfill their obligations, including in the Doha Round. Europe cannot and should not give up on these collective obligations at this critical juncture.

3. We request the European Parliament to apply the Right to Development principles to its Policy Coherence for Development work, using the Right to Development as the lens through which to scrutinize all EU policies.

➢ What will the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy deliver in relation to the Right to Food?

➢ Are the health and trade policies of the Union being designed and funded to secure affordable access to essential medicines?

➢ Are EU actions on climate change guided by Right to Development principles of a more even distribution of the benefits in economic transformations, and improved access of the poor to new technologies?

➢ To what extent do EU external and internal policies contribute to strengthening the social dimension of globalization and advance civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights?

Surely a core standard with which to assess Policy Coherence for Development is the extent to which EU policies permit at least some rights to be increasingly realized while ensuring that others do not deteriorate in their realization or are not violated.

My colleague Jan Jarab, Director of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Brussels, and I will be happy to elaborate.

Thank you.


pdfText of Declaration on the Right to Development:

onebit 12Special anniversary website:

pdfJoint Statement of UN agencies to mark anniversary:

onebit 24Statement of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to mark 25th anniversary (2 December 2011): 

onebit 10Speech of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to commemorative meeting of UN General Assembly (8 November 2011):