Legal cases

Right to development

Legal case |
Right to development

Article 1 of the Declaration on the Right to Development states that:

“[t]he 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”.

Therefore, as beneficiaries of the right to development, all human persons should be included and fully consulted in any development which affects them.  It is the duty of the state to ensure that they have equal and adequate access to essential resources and it falls upon the international community to promote fair development policies and effective international cooperation.

The right to development encompasses all other human rights whether civil, political, economic, social or cultural. It is the only human right that embodies principles of equality, non-discrimination, participation, transparency, accountability as well as international cooperation in an integrated manner.  It also facilitates a holistic approach to the issue of poverty by addressing its systemic and structural causes.

However, despite efforts by the UN to promote effective cooperation for the realization of the right to development, it is evident that minorities all over the world, particularly from developing countries, still suffer as a result of poverty stemming from violation of their right to development. In the “Endorois case”[1] the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR) grounded its finding of a violation of the right to development in the Kenyan government’s failure to guarantee the Endorois community effective participation in development processes regarding their ancestral land and to guarantee them a reasonable share in the profits realized from the land after the Government had facilitated their forceful eviction. Minorities are regularly exposed to abuses, and the state provides little security.

Regional and international instruments which protect the right to development:
Relevant jurisprudence:
Other relevant MRG publications:

In 2003, MRG published an issues paper entitled The Right to Development: Obligations of States and the Rights of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples. The authors of this publication are Margot Salomon, former MRG legal standards officer, and Arjun Sengupta, the former Independent Expert on the Right to Development. Readers are able to access each section individually by clicking on the table of contents.

Download the issues paper: The Right to Development: Obligations of States and the Rights of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples


[1] 276 / 2003 – Centre for Minority Rights Development (Kenya) and Minority Rights Group International on behalf of Endorois Welfare Council v Kenya.

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