Significant progress on the Draft Convention on the Right to Development


The 23rd Session of the UN Intergovernmental Working Group on the Right to Development was held in Geneva (16-20 May 2022) in the context of growing inequalities, wars and multiple crises (political, economic, social, ecological, and health), exacerbated by Covid-19.

The draft, legally binding Convention on the Right to Development, in negotiation since 20191, offers solutions to these multiple crises, such as international cooperation based on the freedom of peoples to choose their model of development and the obligation of states to create a national and international environment to enable this. The text aims to contribute to the elimination of the flagrant violations of human rights due to neo-colonialism and imperialism in particular and also to the reduction of inequalities and the prevention of armed conflicts.

The revised version of the Draft Convention on the Right to Development, presented at this 23rd Session, undeniably provides solid foundations upon which to advance. In this regard, the drafting group2, commissioned by the president of the Intergovernmental Working Group3 is to be congratulated on its work. Certain parts of the text may need a little work and there remain some gaps to be filled but it is a well crafted text compared to the initial version.

As in previous sessions, CETIM actively participated in the discussions and made concrete proposals to improve content.

The Non-Aligned Movement and China also participated actively making constructive proposals.

The European Union and Japan reiterated their opposition to the development of a Convention on the Right to Development and did not participate in the discussions. These countries continue to oppose the Sustainable Development Goals relating to the Right to Development, by (deliberately?) confusing development aid with the right to development. Development, development aid and economic growth are notions that must not be confused with the right to development, as we have stated on many occasions.4 Furthermore, it is clear that the Sustainable Development Goals, just like the Millennium Development Goals, will not be met, as the UN Secretary-General fears.5 Although the USA and Switzerland did not participate in the discussions, their position is similar to that of the European Union.

Mexico, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay expressed reservations about the adoption of a Convention on the Right to Development. Argentina and Uruguay actively participated in the discussions but their proposals aimed to ensure that the future international instrument would fit with their domestic concerns.

Although Russia participated actively in the discussions, certain of its proposals also aimed at ensuring that the future instrument further its national interests.

The Intergovernmental Working Group aims to complete work on the Proposed Convention during its next session, to be held in 2023.

In a world in which certain political leaders work only towards destruction, discrimination and the domination of others, it is ever more urgent to advance towards the objective of the right to development, that is: the self-determination and sovereignty of all peoples allowing them to choose their own model of development, in a spirit of equality and mutual respect.

1  See CETIM Bulletin No 59, June 2019

2  Including Mr Mihir Kanade (India), Ms Diane Desierto (Philippines), Mr Koen de Feyter (Belgium), Ms Margarette May Macauley (Jamaica) et Mr Makane Moise Mbenque (Senegal).

3  Since 2015, the Working Group is chaired by Ambassador Zamir Akram (Pakistan).

4  See CETIM Bulletin No 58, December 2018.

5  See for example UN reports on the Sustainable Development Goals 2020 and 2021 and the report entitled “Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals” E/2021/58 dated 30 April 2021.





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