Header image for news printout

Statement by Mr. Saad Alfarargi
Special Rapporteur on the right to development
42nd session of the Human Rights Council


Madam Vice-President, distinguished delegates, representatives of civil society, fellow Rapporteurs, ladies and gentlemen.

Today, I have the honour to introduce my 2019 annual thematic report, including a summary of my activities.

In September 2017, the Human Rights Council adopted Resolution 36/9, which requested me to hold regional consultations on the implementation of the right to development. I have invited all States to participate in the consultations, according to their United Nations regional group. Specifically, I convened a consultation for African States and stakeholders in Addis Ababa from 27 to 29 March 2018; a consultation for Western European and other States and Eastern European States and stakeholders in Geneva on 11 and 12 June 2018; a consultation for Latin American and Caribbean States and stakeholders in Panama City on 11 and 12 October 2018; and a consultation for Asia-Pacific States and stakeholders in Bangkok on 12 and 13 December 2018. The consultations brought together representatives of Member States from each region, as well as representatives of United Nations agencies, intergovernmental organizations, academia, civil society and the private sector. On 10 and 11 April 2019, I convened a final expert meeting in Dakar at which participants sought to reflect on all the contributions made during the prior consultations and to identify universal recommendations. In May 2019, I shared the preliminary recommendations that had emerged from the consultations with those who had participated in them, including all States, for additional feedback.

Madam Vice-President,

When initiating the regional consultations I decided to focus on identifying and promoting good practices in the practical implementation of the right to development, including with regards to the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programs devised to advance human development through the human rights-based approach. The outcome of the consultations is a set of practical guidelines and recommendations that can serve as a tool in designing, monitoring and assessing the structures, processes and outcomes of human rights-motivated development policies.

The regional consultations have reaffirmed the notion – expressed in Human Rights Council resolution 33/14 – that implementation of the right to development involves adherence to international human rights principles, including those related to non-discrimination and fundamental freedoms, and to internationally agreed frameworks on climate change, financing for development and sustainable development. In addition, just as the Declaration on the Right to Development recognizes that the human person is the central subject of development, these guidelines emphasize that fulfilling the right to development must involve empowering persons, both individually and collectively, to decide their own development priorities and their preferred methods of reaching those priorities.

With that foundational principle in mind, the guidelines highlight the importance of participation as a basis for assessing the interests of rights holders and ensuring that those interests are met. Ensuring participation for the sake of realizing the right to development involves more than merely consulting individuals and communities; it implies meaningfully placing rights holders at the centre of decision-making affecting their own economic, social, cultural and political development.

The view that development is only an economic outcome is incomplete since it is possible for the development priorities of a population to remain unfulfilled despite economic growth. The regional consultations have also demonstrated that development should not be conceived as merely a sequential process whereby economic growth is sought to finance social policies. Rather, the right to development conceptualizes development as a holistic process requiring the input and involvement of diverse stakeholders, including States, international organizations, civil society, academia and the private sector, to achieve sustainable results. Good governance, a just and transparent rule of law and stable institutions that are transparent, responsive and accountable are necessary preconditions.

I am looking forward to further discussing the outcomes of the consultations. In particular, I invite the distinguished delegates to share examples of positive practises from their country with regards to:

1.       Measures they have taken to ensure the effective participation of communities in decision making related to development policies, programmes and projects affecting their lives.

2.       Measures to ensure that financing for development, both at national and international level, truly reflects the priorities expressed by the recipients – individuals, communities and peoples.

3.       Examples of methodologies employed when monitoring and evaluating national and international development policies, which can demonstrate whether the policies are effectively improving the well-being of "the human person", as identified in the Declaration on the Right to Development.

4.       Examples of avenues of accountability and access to remedies that can be employed when human right are infringed in the context of the implementation of development policies, programmes and projects.

Madam Vice-President,

Since the beginning of my mandate, I have also sent requests for country visits to 20 countries and would like to thank the countries that have responded positively to my requests.

I have conducted my first country visit to Cabo Verde in November 2018. I visited the islands of Santiago and São Vicente and was able to meet with a large number of government representatives, civil society organizations and academics, as well as with United Nations officials. I also met with representatives of the National Commission for Human Rights and Citizenship and the Ombudsperson. I would like to express my gratitude to the Government for its excellent cooperation and to the civil society organizations, academics and other stakeholders for their valuable input. I am happy to present to you my report from that visit (A/HRC/42/38/Add.1), which contains my observations with respect to legal, policy and institutional frameworks; the right to development in the context of selected areas of development, such as education, health; as well as issues of concern with respect to inclusion and participation of vulnerable parts of the population, including women and persons with disabilities. In my report, I encouraged the international community to consider taking additional measures to help Cabo Verde overcome the specific challenges it has faced following its graduation from the least developed country category and the negative impact of the 2008 global financial crisis. I also encouraged the Government to continue its efforts to enhance international cooperation for African Small Island Developing States; to continue its efforts a to make tourism more diverse and I called on the international community to provide the technical assistance and funding necessary to ensure the diversity and sustainability of this sector, with the informed participation of the local communities in all development programmes and projects affecting their livelihoods and well-being. I further encouraged the Government to review its fiscal policy in order to increase the domestic resources necessary to replace the reduced amount of international aid. I also provided recommendations on improving the functioning of certain domestic institutions and on improving access to rights, and equality.

Further, as per my mandate under Resolution 33/14, in April 2019, I participated in the twentieth session of the Working Group on the right to development and held an interactive dialogue with its members.

In September 2018, this Council adopted resolution 39/9, in which it requested me to participate in relevant international dialogues and policy forums with a view to enhancing the integration of the right to development into those dialogues and forums. To that end, I participated in the Second High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation, held in Buenos Aires in March 2019, where I shared the conclusions contained in my 2018 report to the General Assembly on the benefits of applying a right-to-development approach to South-South cooperation (A/73/271).

l also participated in the 2019 session of the High-level Political Forum on sustainable development in New York, speaking as a panellist during a thematic review on the perspectives of least developed countries and landlocked developing countries.

In conclusion, I would like to stress that an effective discharge of this mandate will only be possible with the full cooperation of Member States, international organizations and non-governmental organizations, and with adequate support from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. I am looking forward to a continued dialogue with all of you with regard to the implementation of the guidelines put forward in my thematic report.

I thank you all for your kind attention.