HRC 42: Statement on the Right to Development

ITEM 3: Clustered ID with Special Rapporteur on the right to development

Statement by Action Canada for Population and Development

11 September 2019

Thank you President, Action Canada makes this statement on behalf of the Sexual Rights Initiative and the Coalition of African Lesbians.

We welcome the Special Rapporteur’s reaffirmation that development is not only an economic outcome - that it encompasses international human rights principles including those related to non-discrimination, fundamental freedoms, climate change, and financing for development. The right to development must be recognised as a human right that bridges the artificial gap between economic, social and cultural rights and civil and political rights, realizing their interdependence and indivisibility. The approach to the right to development must concern itself with the dismantling of multiple systems of oppression, inequitable power, and neo-colonialism. It must also address 6 key factors as identified by the Women’s Human Rights Defenders International Coalition and modified by the Coalition of African Lesbians. These are:

  1. Patriarchy and heteronormativity
  2. Neoliberal capitalism
  3. Crises in democracy
  4. Rising fundamentalisms (including market fundamentalisms)
  5. Militarism and conflict
  6. Environmental exploitation and degradation

The right to development necessitates the realisation of women’s rights broadly defined.Women’s sexual and reproductive rights - particularly the right to bodily autonomy, to contraception, and to abortion, as well as the right of women with non-normative sexualities to exist and to contribute to the development of our societies, are demonised and deprioritised as not being concerned with real developmental issues and as being contrary to traditional and cultural African values. Women’s rights cannot be subordinated to exploitative, capitalist, and patriarchal development discourses, concerned with the enrichment of the few.

We also welcome the Special Rapporteur’s acknowledgement of the important role that civil society plays and should play at the national level - and we would assert at the regional and international level too, to ensure the meaningful participation of communities and constituencies in development processes. The Special Rapporteur notes that civil society participation requires freedom of expression and access to information, and we would add that it also requires freedom of association, and of assembly, and for there to be a recognised right to political participation of all, including marginalised populations and their activists and human rights defenders, without fear of reprisal.

We call on States to:

  1. To implement the declaration on the Right to Development in conjunction with other human rights standards and obligations
  2. To ensure the ability of civil society to meaningfully engage with development process
  3. To engage actively in promoting, protecting and fulfilling the right to development with the same commitment and vigour with which they advocate for civil and political rights, in recognition of their interdependence

We look forward to the work and future reports of the Special Rapporteur, and to observing the cooperation of all states in this Council in addressing issues related to the right to development

Thank you.