Thirty years ago, the Declaration on the Right to Development broke new ground in the universal struggle for greater human dignity, freedom, equality and justice. It called for every member of society to be empowered to participate fully and freely in vital decisions. It demanded equal opportunities, and the equitable distribution of economic resources – including for people traditionally marginalized, dis-empowered and excluded from development, such as women, minorities, indigenous peoples, migrants, older persons, persons with disabilities and the poor; and for countries at all levels of development, including those most lagging behind. It demanded better governance of the international economic framework. And it re-defined development as far deeper, broader and more complex than the narrow, growth-and-profit focus of previous decades.

The goal of development is to improve the well-being of every member of society.

People are not the how of development – not mere tools which can be exploited to produce greater wealth for limited élites. They are the why. True development roots out and corrects the causes of poverty – the multiple human rights violations which have deprived people of power, control over resources, and a voice in their government, economy and society, and denied equal participation in global governance. True development generates greater social justice, not deeper exploitation; and it reduces the towering inequalities which confiscate the fundamental rights of those who are marginalised and poor. This vital new vision of development as a comprehensive economic, social and political process – including the most vulnerable and marginalised, and grounded in realisation of the full range of human rights – has had important impact on the international landscape.

Today, as we mark the 30th anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development, we also celebrate the birth of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – a potentially transformative framework that is committed to realising, for all the world’s people, the right to development’s goals. The 2030 Agenda explicitly pays tribute to its foundations in the right to development. At its heart is the struggle to eliminate discrimination, notably with its strong and detailed commitments to end the marginalisation and exclusion of women and girls, and its inspiring mantra of leaving no-one behind. The Agenda commits every State to ensuring that every member of society has the opportunity to develop skills, participate in and benefit from development: this promise, when delivered, will change the lives of millions of people.

Frequently asked questions on the Right to Development could be find: here