The Right to Development: Obligations of States and the Rights of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples
The United Nations adopted the Declaration on the Right to Development in 1986. The Declaration recognizes that development is an inalienable human right, and describes development as a comprehensive process leading to the well-being of all people. All states are called upon to cooperate internationally and work nationally to ensure that this comprehensive process in which all human rights can be realized is undertaken without discrimination, and that all people may participate fully and equally in this process.
This paper provides an elaboration of the content of the right to development by drawing on international law. It addresses the obligations of states, particularly with regard to international cooperation, and considers the application of obligations of conduct, as well as those of result, in giving this right meaning.
This paper also details the rights of minorities and indigenous peoples and how they relate to the right to development. The creation of conditions that enable a state to develop will not necessarily lead to the realization of the right to development by the individuals within that state. Traditionally marginalized groups – notably, minorities and indigenous peoples – may not benefit from this development or may be harmed by it. Even where the right to development is being realized by the majority, the rights of minorities and indigenous peoples could be violated if the process undertaken does not take account of their rights. The authors discuss the need to have in place the standards to ensure that the protection and promotion of minority and indigenous rights are fully integrated into policies designed to fulfil the right to development.
Written in cooperation with the UN Independent Expert on the right to development, this work builds on his contribution to the mandated objectives of the inter-state UN Working Group on the Right to Development. It provides an important contribution to the scope of rights and obligations in this area, and the implications that stem from them, particularly for minorities and indigenous peoples.