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OHCHR and the right to development

"Born of the common aspirations of newly independent nations, the Declaration on the Right to Development made development a right for all individuals and peoples, with active, free and meaningful participation in its process and fair distribution of its benefits. Locally and globally. For present and future generations."

Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
‘We Are All in This Together’ - Human Rights Council Biennial Panel discussion on the Right to Development, 17 September 2020

About the right to development

The goal of development is to improve the wellbeing of every member of society. People are not the how of development - not tools that can be exploited to produce greater wealth for limited elites. They are the why. True development generates greater social justice, not deeper exploitation; and it reduces the towering inequalities which threaten fundamental human rights, in particular of those who are marginalised and poor.

Read more about why the right to development is a human rights issue.

OHCHR’s work on the right to development

Over thirty years ago, the Declaration on the Right to Development broke new ground in the universal struggle for greater human dignity, freedom, equality and justice.

It called for every member of society to be empowered to participate fully and freely in vital decisions. It demanded equal opportunities, and the equitable distribution of economic resources - including for people who are traditionally disempowered and excluded from development.

The United Nations has played a key role throughout the emergence and development of the right to development, both before and after the adoption of the Declaration. It has done this through supporting political dialogue, a series of task forces, working groups and expert mechanisms, advocacy, research and analysis, civil society engagement and partnership.

Read more about OHCHR’s work on the right to development.

Key documents

The Declaration on the Right to Development: Published in 1986, the declaration outlines how everyone, without distinction, is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights can be fully realised.

Read more about the Declaration | Text of the Declaration (PDF): العربية 中文 | English | Français | PусскийEspañol

Frequently Asked Questions, Fact sheet No.37 (2016) PDF:  العربية  | 中文 | English | Français | Pусский | Español

Realising the Right to Development e-Book: A compilation of essays to commemorate 25 years of the United Nations Declaration on the Right to Development

Latest reports, publications and resources

Annual progress, focus on least developed countries and the COVID-19 pandemic (2020): An overview of OHCHR activities on the promotion and realisation of the right to development between June 2019 and May 2020. The report also contains an analysis of the implementation of the right to development in least developed countries, taking into account existing challenges, including in the context of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and recommendations on how to overcome them. View report page | View document A/HRC/45/21

Annual progress, focus on Sustainable Development Goal 17 (2019): An overview of OHCHR activities on the promotion and realisation of the right to development undertaken between June 2018 and May 2019. The report also provides an analysis of the implementation of the right to development, based on the targets of Sustainable Development Goal 17 and takes into account the work undertaken by and for the Working Group on the Right to Development and other human rights mechanisms. View report page | View document A/HRC/42/29

An Introduction to the right to development and the Sustainable Development Goals (2018) PPT: English

Activities

The Human Rights Council Social Forum
Theme: The fight against COVID-19 pandemic, international cooperation and solidarity and human rights
11-12 October 2021

Publication of the Discussion Paper: Implications of the Right to Development for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and other United Nations Member States
August 2021

21st session of the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Right to Development
17-21 May 2021

View more activities

Policy Briefs

Illicit Financial Flows and the Right to Development:

Videos

International level: The global economy, financing for sustainable development and the right to development (in collaboration with UNCTAD)
9 October 2020
Watch on UN Web TV

Global-local interlinkages: Obstacles to realising the right to development and to addressing poverty and inequality
8 October 2020
Watch on UN Web TV

Opening of the Social Forum: “Good Practices, success stories, lessons learned and current challenges in combating poverty and inequalities”
8 October 2020
Watch on UN Web TV

Panel discussion on the right to development - 7th Meeting, 45th Regular Session, Human Rights Council
17 September 2020
Watch on UN Web TV

Development is a human right: 30th anniversary video
29 February 2016
Watch on YouTube

Feature stories