Skip to main content

UN expert calls for fair, rights-based trade policies to ensure right to development

UN expert calls for fair, rights-based trade policies to ensure right to development

An independent expert for the United Nations Commission on Human Rights stressed today that in the face of rampant globalization, only partnership arrangements based on binding obligations, and fair, rights-based trade policies could ensure that the right to development would become a reality for everyone.

As the leading UN human rights body opened its debate on the right to development in Geneva today, Independent Expert Arjun Sengupta, said that while the process of globalization opened up the potential for realizing the right, in actual practice, the functioning of institutions, and global trade rules "severely constrained the ability of developing countries to adopt policies that would realize the right to development."

The expert highlighted the merits and weaknesses of a new partnership initiative for development cooperation in Africa as a model for the challenges involved in making that right a reality. That initiative, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), came closest to the proposed model for realizing the right to development, he said.

But while the African countries involved had identified the nature of international cooperation and level of bilateral partnership that would be necessary to implement the programme, NEPAD fell short of the right to development approach by not fully integrating human rights standards with social development programmes, he said. Moreover, the partnership arrangements were not based on a recognition of binding obligations, so that even if the programmes were implemented, they could still remain underfunded.

With that example in mind the Expert said that in an increasingly globalizing world, the policies of any State, financial institutions and international organizations had a bearing on the outcomes and efforts of all other States. To that extent, it had become necessary for all these agencies and the international community as a whole to cooperate and adopt policies that enabled States to implement their right to development.