24 June 2009

future of RTD

The Right to Development (RTD), a concept that emerged in the 1970s, is one of the most debated and contentious issues in international relations. RTD builds on the rights based approach to development, seeking to integrate the norms and principles of human rights with policies and plans to promote development. Despite its importance for the world’s poor and dispossessed, a great deal of definitional confusion still surrounds the concept.

The future of RTD depend on the extent to which governments are willing to address the political and practical obstacles to its implementation. The political obstacles appear in the tone and substance of the deliberations as well as the decisions of the Commission and General Assembly. It is up to those governments that take the RTD seriously to shift the discourse away from posturing and towards specific programs and mechanisms that will assist governments in meeting their obligations in this area.

The most important obstacle to implementing the RTD is the practical one, because of the lack of incentives to modify the formal policies of the international agencies and national governments and to incorporate meaningful approaches to this right in the practice of development. Human rights are claims of entitlement that arise as of right and are independent of external justification; they are "self evident" and fundamental to any human being living a dignified, healthy and productive and rewarding life.

Human rights are not some abstract, inchoate 'good'; they are defined, particular claims listed in international instruments such as the [U.N.'s] Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the major covenants and conventions. Like the fundamental rights guaranteed by any Constitution, these rights are inalienable; they cannot be transferred, forfeited, or waived; they cannot be lost by having been usurped, or by one's failure to exercise or assert them.

Sustainable development acts as a reconciling principle between economic development and environmental protection. Just as economic development is an inalienable right of States' self-determination; environmental protection is an erga omnes (in relation to everyone) obligation of all States for the benefit of the global commons that all share. The principle of sustainable development is thus a part of modern international law by reason not only of its inescapable logical necessity, but also by reason of its wide and general acceptance by the global community, and not just by developing countries.

No comments: