By: Marc Gancedo

On the 22nd of September, the 15th meeting of the 48th Session of the Human Rights Council took place. The working group on the right to development presented their report, which was followed by a discussion involving members state and non governmental organisations.

The discussion on the right to development focused on equal access to vaccines. Most delegations re-affirmed their commitment to uphold the right to development as a universal, inalienable and indivisible human right which should be treated equally to all other human rights. Several delegations noted that selective focus on certain human rights at the expense of others runs counter to the principles of the Human Rights Council and that all human rights should be given equal attention as they are all interlinked and equally important. Moreover, it was also pointed out that women and girls across the world, especially in developing countries, are more likely to suffer from the consequences of unequal development. Multiple delegations shared the need to remove barriers to equal opportunities and encourage women’s participation in labour. On the same note, the current situation in Afghanistan was paid due attention as the representative from Afghanistan expressed the urgency of the situation asserting that the Taliban government will continue to curtail and suppress the rights of women if left unchecked.

Furthermore, many of the interventions mentioned that the Covid-19 pandemic has worsened equal access to development, due to the unequal access of developing countries to the vaccine. The delegations of multiple developing countries shared their frustration regarding the low vaccination rates in their countries and made calls for the international community to act in solidarity and ensure that vaccine roll-outs to said countries are enhanced. The delegate from Nepal expressed the need for closer cooperation and multilateralism by stating that “no one is safe until everyone is safe”.

Additionally, it was expressed that climate change poses a grave threat to the right of development and the general enjoyment of human rights. Such progress requires all states to coordinate their plans to mitigate climate change to ensure that the Sustainable Development Goals are fulfilled.
The general debate also bore witness to irreconcilable differences and opposing views. On one hand, the delegates of China, Cuba, Venezuela and Russia argued the issue of colonialism impedes the enjoyment of human rights. They criticized military interventions in sovereign states which constitute violations of territorial integrity and hampers economic development and the right to development. In stark contrast stood the delegations of Pakistan, Georgia and Algeria which condemned the illegal occupation and the suppression of the right to self-determination which in itself is contained within the right of development. Finally, following the report on the death penalty, most states and NGOs, with a few exceptions, shared their commitment to abolish the death penalty across the world which currently counts with the backing of more than 150 countries.

GICJ calls for the commitment of all states to the right of development in all its manifestations and urges the wealthier nations to act in solidarity and take effective measures into reducing the gap in vaccination rates between the developed and the developing world. We would also like to insist on the need to take a comprehensive and intersectional approach that takes into account all the concerns mentioned in relation to the right of development to ensure that those most vulnerable can enjoy equally the rights that are rightfully theirs as human beings.

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