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Development as a human right

Until recently, development was always viewed in the context of an economic framework, presenting a separation between development and human rights and suggesting that economic development must be achieved first in order to enjoy the “luxury” of human rights. However, various academics and experts are counteracting this approach by presenting development as an all-inclusive notion of human realization. Smile to the Future believes that Individuals should have the right to a safe, healthy and ecologically balanced environment in which they have the freedom to contribute and to benefit from the country’s development.

According to the United Nations Development Programme’s World Development Report (2002), the human rights approach “adds legitimacy to the demand for making poverty reduction the primary goal of policy-making” therefore adopting poverty reduction strategies is not a suggestion but an obligation towards States that are party to key international human rights instruments. Furthermore, the UNDP recognises the principles of equality and non-discrimination and also recognises the complementaries between civil and political rights, on one hand, and economic, social and cultural rights, on the other, as fundamental values of the human rights approach.  This important because it is necessary to counter the purely economic approach which has a tendency to focus on narrow economic issues and goals which directly or indirectly sustain structures of discrimination.

Developmental considerations fit to a large extent with the human rights paradigm because there is an interrelationship between the two concepts. Developmental problems affect people negatively all over the world i.e. diseases, water shortages, disposal of toxic wastes, so on and so forth. This approach does not imply that human rights is a higher priority than development or that it merely leads to development, rather it infers that the fulfilment of human rights is in itself the fulfilment of development. In other words, development and human rights are interrelated concepts that survive on the others fulfilment. The two concepts have a shared motivation reflecting a commitment towards the promotion of capabilities, welfare and dignity of all individuals and communities worldwide. They are compatible enough to complement each other, yet diverse to enhance each other as well.

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