CIESIN Reproduced, with permission, from: Barsh, R. L. 1991. The right to development as a human right: Results of the Global Consultation. Human Rights Quarterly 13 (August) : 322-38.

The Right to Development as a Human Right: Results of the Global Consultation

Russel Lawrence Barsh


Since the Senegalese jurist Keba M'baye first advanced it in 1972, the idea of a "right to development" has been the focus of an extensive but largely theoretical debate.(1) Jurists from the South enumerated the possible subjects and objects of this right, while jurists from the North questioned whether it existed at all.(2)

The adoption by the UN General Assembly of a Declaration on the Right to Development (DRD)(3) did little to resolve such questions. On the contrary, the artfully vague text of the DRD attracted new jurisprudential speculations. It could easily have been doubted that the declaration would ever have any practical applications. Like the New International Economic Order, it was an expression of South frustration in the face of intransigent North power, but seemed to lack a workable program.


When its Working Group of Governmental Experts on the Right to Development failed, after three annual sessions, to come up with concrete recommendations for the implementation of the DRD, the UN Commission on Human Rights asked the Secretary-General to organize instead:

a global consultation on the realization of the right to development involving representatives of the United Nations system and its specialized agencies, regional inter-governmental organizations and interested non-governmental organizations, including those active in development and human rights, to focus on the fundamental problem posed by the implementation of the Declaration, the criteria which might be used to identify progress and possible mechanisms for evaluating such progress.(4)

This was something of a tactical gamble. To obtain a consensus, delegations from the South had to agree to let the mandate of the Working Group lapse. Delegations from the North hoped that this one-time meeting of independent experts would be as unsuccessful in formulating concrete measures as the Working Group had been, putting an end to any further talk of implementation.

The Global Consultation on the Right to Development as a Human Right (5) was convened in Geneva in January 1990, with some twenty invited experts, representatives of a dozen UN programs and agencies, forty nongovernmental organizations, and more than fifty governments.(6) Special efforts were made to avoid a sterile theoretical debate among legal scholars from the North by seeking out experts and NGOs from the South with expertise in economics and development strategy, and by encouraging the participation of development agencies and financial institutions such as the UN Committee for Development Planning, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank.(7) This nontraditional format made it possible for the meeting to achieve some nontraditional results.

Unlike the Working Group, the Global Consultation focused its report on practical problems such as integrating human rights standards into the "operational" activities of the UN system.(8) This put the question of the implementation of the DRD squarely back into the lap of the Commission which, after lengthy negotiations, was able to agree only on transmitting the report to a number of other UN policy bodies.(9) While inconclusive, this shifted the venue of the right-to-development debate from human rights organs in Geneva to economics meetings in New York.


The intellectual pedigree of the right to development has been analyzed in detail elsewhere and need not be repeated here.(10) Identifying some of the right's antecedents in international law will help place the Global Consultation in historical context, however, and highlight what the Consultation has added to previous thinking on the subject.

Like so much other UN doctrine, the right to development represents a dialectic of world order and the sovereign equality of states. All states strive to be equally free and independent, yet this can realistically be achieved only within a framework of global physical security. At first, efforts to achieve world order focused on decolonization and peacekeeping. The number of UN member states more than doubled as a growing number of peoples attained formal independence.

The 1960s witnessed a transition in which the adequacy of formal independence was increasingly questioned. Beginning with the first UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in 1964, poorer countries have made the case that sovereign equality is meaningless without a more equitable distribution of the world's economic resources. Southern initiatives to redistribute economic power have explored different multilateral channels, including trade regulation and, most recently, financial negotiations over structural adjustment." With the exception of UNCTAD's Agreement on the Common Fund for Commodities in 1980, however, these initiatives have been thwarted by Western industrial powers, who blame corrupt regimes and poor planning for continuing and, in the case of Africa, worsening poverty in the South.

The question of human rights enters the picture as a cogent potential argument for structural change. The DRD regards human rights as both a condition and objective of development; its aim was to respond to concerns regarding:

the existence of serious obstacles to development, as well as to the complete fulfillment of human beings and of peoples, constituted, inter alia, by the denial of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights...."

While this may seem like an exhortation to the governments of the developing countries to reform their political systems, it takes on quite a different implication when read with the DRD's provisions for international cooperation:

States have the duty to co-operate with each other in ensuring development and eliminating obstacles to development.

States have the duty to take steps, individually and collectively, to formulate international development policies with a view to facilitating the full realization of the right to development.

All States should co-operate with a view to promoting, encouraging and strengthening universal respect for and observance of all human rights and fundamental freedoms without any distinction as to race, sex, language or religion.(12)

All states share responsibility for creating conditions, through international cooperation and development policies, for the full realization of human rights in developing countries. The North therefore shares responsibility for human rights shortcomings in the South.

Thus, a legal basis is offered for solidarity---that is, shared responsibility, as opposed merely to "cooperation"(13)---in international relations. Solidarity has a respectable foundation in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognizes the right of everyone to "a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized."(14) Neither the Universal Declaration nor the DRD specifies the nature of the international order that is required. It would necessarily have to be more democratic, however, in the sense of all states enjoying effective self-determination. equal access to resources and economic opportunities, and an equal role in macroeconomic decisionmaking.(15)

At the same time, there is a correlative duty of all states to democratize national institutions. The phrase used by the DRD is "active, free and meaningful participation."(16) This is linked to two other important concepts, "equality of opportunity in access to basic resources" and "fair distribution of income," which may be considered conditions for the effective exercise of democratic rights.(17) The right to participate in decisionmaking also enjoys a respectable basis in UN human rights instruments(l8) and expert studies,(19) as well as instruments in economics(20) and development strategy.(21)


Invited participation in the Global Consultation itself was somewhat more representative of the South than is often the case in expert meetings of this nature. Two-thirds of the presenters came from governmental and nongovernmental organizations in the South, or from indigenous peoples' organizations. This led to an emphasis on the structure of international economic relations as a condition for the achievement of human rights, as well as a tendency to view internal political conditions as a function of the distribution of economic power.

Early in the meeting, a coalition of third and fourth world participants produced a draft of conclusions and recommendations. which formed the basis for further discussions and significantly influenced the final report.(22) This was the first time indigenous organizations drew a clear parallel in argument or action between their situations, whether in the North or the south, and that of developing countries. It also marked the emergence of a distinct South nongovernmental viewpoint in the human rights context, as has existed for some years in UNCTAD.(23)

Participants from the North and South differed considerably in their perceptions of the current world situation, for example the recent developments in Eastern Europe. Western and Eastern European participants believed that European reconciliation would open the way for more attention to the problems of the South, but participants from developing countries believed it would divert all attention from the South to the East and result eventually in a wealthier, more powerful, and dominant Europe.(24)

These regional differences also extended to analysis of the best means of implementing the DRD. Western participants argued for a "basic human needs" approach, involving the prioritization of the achievement of certain economic and social rights, such as the rights to food, shelter, and education. This view anticipates the universalization of the "welfare state," that is, capitalism moderated by the redistribution of income by the state.(25) Implied in this also is an international regime based on redistribution of income (concessional aid) rather than sharing of productive resources and technology.

Participants from the South disagreed in two respects. They advocated giving a priority in national development policies to participation and political transformations, as opposed to basic needs."(26) They also expressed a need for political transformation and democracy in international relations, rather than more aid or concessional resources.(27)


The report of the Global Consultation concludes that, above all, "the concentration of economic and political power in the most industrialized countries" is an obstacle to development and is "perpetuated by the non democratic decision-making processes of international economic, financial and trade institutions."(28)

Democracy at all levels (local, national and international) and in all spheres is essential to true development. Structural inequalities in international relations as within individual countries, are obstacles to the achievement of genuine democracy and a barrier to development as defined in the Declaration.(29)

Greater equality in international relations is related, in turn, to respect for the principles of self-determination and nonuse of force.(30) Existing trade and financial arrangements have been dictated by a small number of countries, frequently for their own benefit and at the expense of development elsewhere. The participants were especially critical of international development strategies which have been "oriented merely towards economic growth and financial considerations," which they noted has often resulted directly or indirectly in violations of human rights.(3l)

These models largely ignore the social, cultural and political aspects of human rights and human development. Limiting the human dimension to questions of productivity. They foster greater inequalities of power and control of resources among groups and lead to social tensions and conflicts. These tensions and conflicts are often the pretext used by States to justify placing restrictions on human rights.(32)

In contrast with the policies of international institutions, "no one model of development is universally applicable to all cultures and peoples."

What constitutes "development" is largely subjective, and in this respect development strategies must be determined by the people themselves and adapted to their particular conditions and needs.(33)

It follows that participation must be "the primary mechanism for identifying appropriate goals and criteria" for the development process.(34)

Since internal and external conditions for development are interdependent, democracy is essential at the national as well as international levels.

Democracy is an essential element in the realization of the right to development and the failure to implement and respect the principles of democratic government has been shown to present a serious obstacle to the realization of the right to development. (35)

In this context, the right to development is not so much a right to the improvement of material conditions, but the right to have a voice in, and share control over, the economic environment. It is not, however, an apology for a liberal, laissez faire state in which there is simply an absence of public restraint on private self interest. This becomes clear from the interpretation given to the concept of "participation."


A major substantive achievement of the Global Consultation was refining the concept of "participation" in human rights law. It was agreed that participation must be active and must involve genuine power.

Fundamental to democratic participation is the right of individuals, groups, and peoples to make decisions collectively and to choose their own representative organizations, and to have freedom of democratic action, free from interference.(36)

The conditions for democratic participation include "a fair distribution of economic and political power among all sectors of national society,"(37) as well as "genuine ownership or control of productive resources such as land, financial capital and technology."(38) Likewise, relevant factors in evaluating participatory processes include "the representativity and accountability of decision-making bodies, the decentralization of decision-making, public access to information, and responsiveness of decision-makers to public opinion."(39)

Participation is "effective in mobilizing human and natural resources and combatting inequalities, discrimination, poverty and exclusion."(40) However, participation "should be viewed both as a means to an end and as an end in itself."(41) This rejects the sufficiency of "basic human needs" as a development policy.

States must not only take concrete steps to improve economic, social and cultural conditions and to facilitate the efforts of individuals and groups for that objective, but must do so in a manner that is democratic in its formulation and in its results.(42)

Thus, people are "the subject rather than a mere object of the right to development."(43) They are not simply "resources" to be made healthy, skilled, and productive; they have a right not only to survival and material improvement, but to some measure of power. Accordingly,

[s]ince participation is the right through which all other rights in the Declaration on the Right to Development are exercised and protected, the forms, quality, democratic nature, and effectiveness of participatory processes, mechanisms and institutions label the central and essential indicator(s) of progress in realizing the right to development.(44)

Significantly, the Global Consultation derived this conclusion from the right to self-determination, which it viewed as having individual as well as collective aspects. In other words:

[t]he mere formation of a State does not in itself fully realize the right to self-determination. Unless its citizens and constituent peoples continue to enjoy the right to their own cultural identity and to determine their own economic, social and political system through democratic institutions and actions.(45)

Self-determination is therefore both an individual and a continuing right, only one element of which is the right to development.(46)

The Global Consultation also appealed for "special measures" to ensure the effective participation of particularly vulnerable groups, such as indigenous peoples.(47)

Indigenous peoples have been throughout history the victims of activities carried out in the name of national development. Their direct participation and consent in decisions regarding their own territories are thus essential to protect their right to development.(48)


In keeping with its analysis of obstacles to development, the Global Consultation recommended parallel changes in national and international decisionmaking. National development policies should provide expressly for the protection of human rights, for "the strengthening of democracy," and for mechanisms to guarantee full participation by all social groups.(49) At the international level,

[a]ll States should co-operate in creating an international economic and political environment conducive to the realization of the right to development, in particular through democratization of decision-making in intergovernmental bodies and institutions that deal with trade, monetary policy, and development assistance, and by means of greater international partnership in the fields of research, technical assistance, finance and investment.(50)

Encouraging this transformation would depend upon "international implementation and monitoring mechanisms" that are of "universal applicability"; that is, applicable to the activities of countries in both the North and the South.(51)

The main focus of the recommendations, however, was the UN system itself.

All United Nations activities (policy, operations and research) related to the development process should have explicit guidelines, appraisal criteria, and priorities based upon the realization of human rights, including human rights impact assessments.(52)

To bring this about, the report recommends the establishment of a network of human rights liaison officers ("focal points") in all development-related UN programs and agencies. In addition, it calls on UN supervisory bodies in the field of human rights, such as the Human Rights Committee, to take the DRD into account in their review of states' periodic reports under conventions.(53) The implicit aim is to make human rights a part of everything the United Nations does in the economic field---a kind of "mainstreaming" of human rights standards and concerns.(54)

The most controversial recommendation is for appointment of a high level UN committee of experts, similar in composition to the existing Committee for Development Planning, with a mandate to request information from any source and to conduct research and studies on specific aspects of implementation of the right to development, such as criteria for measuring progress.(55) It is not the intent to establish yet another system of periodic state reports.(56) If such a committee was to be established, however, it could evolve into a kind of human rights "mega-committee," since the DRD incorporates all other human rights instruments. It also would serve as a formal bridge between UN programs in human rights and economic affairs.

The report of the Global Consultation rejects the validity of universal criteria for progress in achieving development and proposes instead a decentralized, participatory process for the design of indicators and review of programs. (57) The emphasis would be on direct involvement, in UN program evaluation, of "the people and groups directly or indirectly affected through their own representative organizations," including "indigenous peoples, workers' organizations, women's groups," peasants and other so-called "grassroots" organizations, without regard to their accreditation by the UN Economic and Social Council.(58)

This treats the right to development as a programmatic norm of international law, like the principle of self-determination. Implementation is an open-ended process, a process of changing the way the international system works Just as self-determination is a process of identifying and empowering peoples by recognizing new states, so the right to development can be a process of empowering individuals and groups within the state by giving them standing to participate in international economic cooperation.

Conferring international legal standing on grassroots groups is not likely to please many governments, nor is the evaluation of UN development assistance for adverse impacts on human rights. Participants in the Global consultation believed, however, that there is no more compelling way to build political pressure on international economic institutions. Otherwise, the DRD would amount to little more than an exhortation for rich countries to share decisionmaking power with poor ones.


When the UN Commission on Human Rights considered the report of the Global Consultation a month later,(59) government comments were generally favorable. The report as a whole was characterized as "a positive step" by several delegations,(60) and as "a valuable basis" for continuing the examination of possible implementation measures.(6l) A number of delegations generally endorsed the conclusions and recommendations of the report and favored immediate implementation,(62) while others reserved their praise for specific proposals.

There was broad support for coordinating UN activities in the fields of development and human rights. Venezuela was among those endorsing the recommendation that

the Centre for Human Rights should co-ordinate the implementation of the right to development, and that each United Nations agency and programme dealing with development should have a centre for the right to development and human rights.(63)

In this connection, several delegations urged bringing the report of the Global Consultation to the attention of UN bodies engaged in preparing an International Development Strategy for the Fourth United Nations Development Decade (IDS-90).(64)

There was more hesitation when it came to the question of establishing a committee of experts on the right to development. Pakistan was alone in its unqualified support for this idea.(65) Yugoslavia suggested a more "gradual" approach, and believed the evaluation mechanism could take the form of a committee or group of experts, a special rapporteur, or some other arrangement."(66) Morocco was still more circumspect:

At this stage, it would be appropriate to consider the creation of a coordination mechanism, the composition and nature of which may be specified in the course of further consultations. (67)

In the meantime, Bangladesh countered, the Commission could nonetheless try to

make specific recommendations which could be incorporated in the draft International Development Strategy for the Fourth United Nations Development Decade, which would be considered by the General Assembly at the end of the year.(68)

this, too, raised fears. Yugoslavia suggested "as the next step" merely circulating the report for further comments.(69) Brazil agreed that the Commission "should adopt an action-oriented decision" but had in mind only something that "would encourage further studies and an extended dialogue." (70) Western governments did not take issue with the report or its recommendations, but generally argued for "further analysis and discussion,"(71) or even some kind of a more formal "feasibility study."(72)

In private consultations on a possible resolution, positions were more polarized. Yugoslavia traditionally had coordinated right-to-development issues for the non-aligned states,(73) and it produced a characteristically modest draft taking note of the report and circulating it for comments. The African Group initially accepted this version, but Latin American delegations made it clear that they considered it too weak. They proposed adding explicit provisions on Secretariat coordination, publication and dissemination of the report, consideration of the recommendations by other UN bodies in the context of IDS-90, and establishment of "a high level panel of independent experts."

Yugoslavia held firm, however. Although promised qualified support within the European Community,(74) Yugoslavia was convinced there would be strong US opposition to any substantive measures for implementation and held out for a more long term strategy in the hope of achieving a consensus within the Commission. After rejecting a series of Latin proposals for amendments, Yugoslavia at last agreed to include provisions on IDS-90 and publication. An oblique mandate for administrative reform was also included. The Centre for Human Rights and the Director-General for Development and International Economic Cooperation are asked "to continue to coordinate" the implementation of the DRD, and to provide the Commission at its next session with "Information on the measures taken."(75)

In this form, the Yugoslavian proposal was adopted without a vote.(76) To avoid a consensus, the United States announced that it would not participate in the vote. Japan, the United Kingdom, and West Germany, while they had not called for a vote, made statements that they did not believe there was a right to development nor that the Commission on Human Rights should be addressing itself to economic questions.(77)


Over the six months following the Commission's 46th session, the linkage between human rights and development was considerably strengthened. In May, a special session of the General Assembly devoted to "International Economic Co-operation" concluded that "the full utilization of human resources and the recognition of human rights stimulate creativity, innovation and initiative."(78) The first report of the UN Development Programme on "human development" stressed the "link between human freedom and human development," and IDS-90, completed in October, called for the creation of "an environment that supports the evolution everywhere of political systems based on consent and respect for human rights."(79)

Following upon these developments, the report of the Global Consultation was better received at the General Assembly than it had been at the Commission on Human Rights. Yugoslavia took a more assertive position, in its role as non-aligned coordinator, supporting the conclusions and recommendations of the report "in their entirety" and emphasizing the proposal for establishing a high level committee of experts to monitor implementation of the 1986 Declaration.(80) Yugoslavia's draft resolution, moreover, drew explicit attention to the possibility of "creation of a group of experts," reiterated the Commission's request for administrative coordination of the implementation of the Declaration, and, of particular importance, urged

the regional commissions and regional intergovernmental organizations to convene meetings of governmental experts and representative non-governmental and grassroots organizations for the purpose of seeking agreement on arrangements for implementation of the Declaration on the Right to Development through international co-operation.(81)

At previous General Assembly sessions, the United States had insisted on calling for a vote on Yugoslavia's resolutions on the right to development. This time, the United States threatened to do the same, but decided at the last moment to "not participate" in the vote, explaining afterwards that there had been "positive elements" in the report of the Global Consultation. This in turn paved the way for the European Community, which had abstained in previous years' votes, to join in a consensus. Germany attributed this to the Global Consultation, which it described as a "step in the right direction.(82) The incorporation of human rights standards in the planning and education of international assistance is gradually gaining acceptance among operational programs and the specialized agencies.(83)

How far will this go, and how soon? There will undoubtedly be resistance from governments that fear human rights will become a new form of "conditionality," thus reducing capital resources for the South. Others will resist for fear that linking development and human rights will augment Southern leverage on Northern donors, with exactly the opposite effect. If "human resources development" continues to be a major theme in the development debate, however, it will be difficult to ignore human rights. A growing number or economists appear convinced that development strategies which ignore human rights are likely to fail. Indeed, the agenda for one 1991 meeting of the UN Committee for Development Planning includes "the wide-spread trends towards democratization and participation, their relationship to poverty alleviation, and the role of international development efforts in supporting such trends."(84)

These possibilities should be seen in the larger context of the historical growth of the UN system.(85) The 1960s witnessed a rapid diversification of UN programs and agencies, more than proportional to the increase in the number of member states. The three basic UN Charter aims (peace, development, human rights) were repeatedly divided and subdivided administratively, resulting in myriad overlapping jurisdictions with conflicting aims. This proliferation was driven by political accommodation and made possible by the willingness of the larger contributors to absorb an expanding budget. Instead of resolving basic contradictions in the objectives of different regional groups of states, the General Assembly embedded those contradictions by establishing multiple agencies.(86)

The United Nations' "financial crisis"---actually, a series of budgetary crises in the 1980s precipitated by both the failure of the United States to fully pay its assessed contributions and the declining real value of the dollar---has so weakened the staffing and capacity of most UN programs that the sharing of resources and joint projects have become a necessity. This situation is laving an administrative foundation for reintegration of the three Charter aims. If financial stress continues and leads to the adoption of proposals for spreading costs more evenly among member states.(87) UN decisionmaking as a whole would become more democratic, and this could facilitate a more integrative approach to system-wide planning.

There is another possibility, however. Eastern Europe has traditionally served as a small but influential swing vote in the United Nations, just large enough to act as a counterweight to the West and to affect decisions by joining coalitions. Recent events in that region are resulting in close economic and ideological ties with the West, threatening the formation of a coherent European voting bloc.(88) This would counteract any spreading of the UN financial burden and reinforce North-South opposition. The Westernization of Eastern Europe may be short-lived, but while it lasts Europe may be preoccupied with building regional capitalism rather than yielding economic power to the South.(89)

1. M'baye, "Le Droit du Developpement comme un Droit de l'Homme," Revue des Droits de l'Homme 5, 503-534 (1972); Dupuy, The Right to Development at the International Level (1980); Pellet, Le Droit International du Developpement (2nd ed. 1987); Brownlie, The Human Right to Development, Commonwealth Secretariat Human Rights Unit Occasional Paper (1989).

2. The terms "South" and "North" are used here because they are more widely accepted today than "developing" and "developed," and not because either is a firm bloc. Likewise, I use the terms "East" and "West" in the traditional sense of distinguishing between Eastern (socialist) and Western (capitalist) Europe, although in practice this distinction has virtually disappeared over the past eighteen months. A number of individual states have played a crucial role in the right-to-development debate, as will be described below.

3. Declaration on the Right to Development, G.A. Res. 41/120 (1986), adopted by a vote of 146 to one (the United States) with six abstentions.

4. Comm'n Res. 1989/45 (1989), based upon the principal recommendation made by the Working Group in what turned out to be its last report. U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1989/10 (1989), para. 35. The General Assembly expressed the hope that the report from this meeting would "substantially contribute" to future implementation of the DRD. G.A. Res. 44/62 (1989).

5. The words, "as a human right," were added to the title by the Secretarita--to be precise, by the Center for Human Rights--as a part of a large effort to clothe the meeting with a degree of traditional legal respectability.

6. A complete list of the participants may be fount in U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1990/9/Rev.1 Annex 1 (1990). The author participated as an independent expert.

7. These efforts included retaining a special consultant from the South to identify and coordinate South NGOs, but were frustrated to some extent by delays in extending official invitations to the experts and NGO participants and by limited financial assistance.

8. The conclusions and recommendations of the meeting are fount in U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/ 1990/9/Rev.1 (1990), ch. 7 [hereinafter Report].

9. Comm'n Res. 1990/18 (1990), described in greater detail below.

10. Most recently and thoroughly in Kunanayakam, Historical analysis of the principles contained in the Declaration on the Right to Development, U.N. Doc. HR/RD/1990/conf.1 of my struggles to understand the right to development.

11. DRD, supra note 3, preamble. See also id., arts 1.1 (defining development) and 6.3 (duty of states to respect rights).

12. Id., arts. 3.3, 4.1, and 6.1.

13. U.N Charter arts. 55 and 56 refer to "co-operation" in the economic and social fields, including human rights. There is a move towards giving this term a more obligatory connotation. see particularly, G.A. Res. 44/148/(1989_ ("human rights based on solidarity").

14. G.A. Res. 217 A (III) (1948), art. 28 (emphasis added).

15. E.g., Cristeascu, Study on the Right to Self-Determination: Historical and current Development on the Basis of United Nations Instruments, U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/Sub.2/404/Rev.1 (1981), paras. 707-711; Ferrero, Study of the New International Economic Order and the Promotion of Human Rights, U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/Sub.2/1983/24 and Adds. 1 and 2 (1983), para. 142.

16. DRD, supra note 3, art. 2.3 See also id., arts 1.1 (defining development) and 8.2 (participation as a factor in development).

17. Id., art. 8.1.

18. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, art. 25 (rights to elect representatives and take part in the conduct of public affairs); Declaration on Social Progress and Development, G.A. Res. 2542 (XXIV) (1969), arts. 5 (seeking "active participation of all members of society, individually or through associations, in defining and in achieving the common goals of development") and 15 ("effective participation" in a "democratic system").

19. E.g., Ganji, The Realization of Economic Social, and Cultural Rights: Problems, Policies, Progress, U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1108/Rev.1 (1969), ch. 11; Ferrero, Study of the New International Economic Order and the Promotion of Human Rights, supra note 15, paras. 152 and 288; Study by the Secretary-General on Popular Participation, U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1985/10 (1985).

20. Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States, G.A. Res. 3281 (XXIX) (1974) ("ensure the full participation of its people in the process and benefits of development").

21. E.g., Declaration of Principles and Programme of Action of the World Employment conference, U.N. Doc. E/5857 (1976), art. 3 of the Programme ("Participation of the people in making the decisions which affect them through organizations of their own choice"); Report of the World Conference on Agararian Reform and Rural Development, U.N. Doc. A/54/485 at 8 (1979), ("Participation is a basic human right as (is) also essential for realignment of political power in favour of disadvantaged groups").

22. Proposals for the implementation of the Declaration on the Right to Development, submitted by a number of participants from Africa. Asia, Latin America and Indigenous peoples, U.N. Doc. Hr/Rd/1990/Conf.32 (1990), as noted in the Report, supra note 8, pt. 3,para 6. Suggestions for the final text were also submitted by a group of eleven nongovernmental organizations, U.N. Doc. HR/RD/1990/CONF.20 (1990), and by one of the experts. Asbjorn Eide, U.N. Doc. HR/RD/1990/CONF.37 (1990).

23. A similar dynamic emerged a month later in the Commission on Human Rights, in connection with the discussion of "Enhancing" the Commission's working methods. U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1990/WG.3/WP.4 (1990).

24. Based on the author's notes. Summaries of the presentations and discussions are contained in the Report, supra note 8.

25. See particularly, Eide, The right to development and the welfare society, U.N. Doc. HR/RD/1990/Conf.2 (1990).

26. See, e.g., Iguiniz, Popular participation and the realization of the right to development as a human right, U.N. Doc. HR/RD/1990/CONF.17 (1990).

27. Briones, The impact of the external debt and adjustment policies on the realization of the right to development as a human right. U.N. Doc. Hr/RD/1990/Conf. 14 (1990); Canelos, International financial and trade institutions and the right to development as a human right, U.N. Doc. HR/RD/1990/CONF.35 (1990).

28. Report, supra note 8, paras. 167 and 168.

29. Id., para. 147.

30. Id., para. 151.

31. Id., para 153. this was, of course, directed in large part at "structural adjustment" and IMF conditionality, which were criticized more explicitly in id., paras. 167 and 168.

32. Id., para. 165. See also id., para. 145 ("A development strategy that disregards or interferes with human right is the very negation of development.").

33. Id., para. 155. There is a reference to "environmental and cultural considerations in id., para 156.

34. Id., para. 179. See also id., para. 150.

35. Id., para. 164.

36. Id., para. 147. It is significant that this paragraph refers to "action," and not merely to freedom of speech and of association.

37. Id., para. 148.

38. Id., para. 150. This amounts to a rejection of the ideal of the "Welfare State." See also id., inequalities" in social or economic conditions).

39. Id., para 178.

40 Id., para. 150.

41. Id., para. 149

42. Id., para. 145

43. Id.

44. Id., para 177

45. Id., para. 151.

46. It is interesting in this context that the report implicitly condemns the former Eastern European regimes, not for socialism, buy because their brand of socialism "exclude(d) participation," i.e., it was undemocratic. Id., para. 154.

47. Id., para. 149.

48. Id. para 157 (emphasis added). the Global Consultation also endorsed the conclusions and recommendation of a seminar on indigenous peoples held in 1989. see Barsh, United Nations Seminar on Indigenous Peoples and States, 83 Am J. Int'l L. 599 (1989).

49. Report, supra note 8, para. 182.

50. Id., para 187. See also id., para. 188 ("greater transparency" in adjustment negotiations).

51. Id., para 152.

52. Id., para. 190. See also id., paras. 160 ("mechanisms for ensuring the compatibility of all United Nations activities and programmes" with the DRD), 192 (UN agencies should respect human rights instruments "as if they themselves were parties"), and 197 (all UN assistance to be provided through a single country programme containing "specific requirements" in these respects).

53. Id., para. 193. The committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has already taken up this suggestion in its General Comment No. 2, which parallels the Global Consultation's recommendations for integration of human rights standards in development policies and projects. Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Report on the Forth Session, U.N. ESCOR Supp. (No. 3), U.N. Doc. E/1990/23 Annex 3 (1990).

54. This was supported by a key UN official responsible for economic affairs. Statement by Mr. Antoine Blanca, Director-General for Development and International Economic Co-operation, U.N. Doc. HR/RD/1990/Misc.2 (1990), summarized in U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1990/9 (1990), pt. 1, paras. 42-62.

55. Report supra note 8, paras. 194 and 195.

56. For a critique of the growing burden of routine state reports in the field of human rights, see Barsh, Making the United Nations' Human Rights Machinery Cost-Effective, 56 Nord. J. Int'l L. 183-97 (1987).

57. Report, supra note 8, para. 195. Consistent with the rest of the analysis in the report, appropriate criteria would be qualitative rather than quantitative and focus more on process than results. Id., para. 171.

58. This implied, deliberately, that EXOSOC-accredited NGOs are not necessarily representative or "grassroots" in character. See also Non-governmental and grass-roots organizations, United Nations Development Programme Governing Council decision 90/18; Co-operation with non-governmental organizations and grass-roots organizations, U.N. Doc. DP/1990/25 (1990); and G.A. Res. 44/211, para. 6.

59. At the 16th to 21st meetings of its 46th session on 8, 9, 12, and 13 February 1990. Only the conclusions and recommendations of the Global Consultation had yet been issued, and in English only--a reason given by some European governments for suggesting a delay in taking any action.

60. U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1990/SR.20/Add.1 (1990), para. 36 (United Kingdom). See also U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1990/SR.20/Add.1 (1990), para. 36 (United Kingdom). See also U.N. CN.4/1990/SR.20 (1990), para. 78 (Bulgaria: "Useful results"); U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1990/SR.21 (1990) para. 6 (Austria: "very important").

61. U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1990/SR.20 (1990), para. 49 (Morocco); see also U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1990/SR.19 (1990), para. 89 (German Democratic Republic: "an important starting point").

62. U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1990/SR.19 (1990), para 76 (Iraq); U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1990/SR.19 (1990), para. 66 (Nigeria); U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1990/SR.20 (1990), para. 56 (China); U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1990/SR.20 (1990) para. 90 (Iran).

63. U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1990/Sr.16 (1990), para. 61. Similarly, see U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1990/Sr.19 (1990), para. 78 (Iraq); U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1990/SR.20 (1990), paras.72 (Bangladesh), 77 (France), and 88 (Argentina).

64. E.G., U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1990/SR.19 (1990), para. 67 (Nigeria); U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1990/SR.20 (1990), para. 72 (Bangladesh). these bodies included the Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole on the Preparation of the International Development Strategy for the Fourth Development Decade, the 1990 Special Session of the General Assembly on International Economic Cooperation, the 1990 Second Conference on the Least Developed Countries, the Committee for Development Planning, the Economic and Social Council, and the next regular session of the General Assembly. It was also suggested that the report be sent to the Preparatory Committee for the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development.

65. U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1990/SR.20/Add.1 (1990), para. 34. Also endorsed by Iraq, U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1990/Sr.19 (1990), para. 78.

66. U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1990/SR.18 (1990), para. 19. Only Yugoslavia mentioned the possibility of entrusting this task to an individual, as opposed to a geographically balanced group.

67. U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1990/SR.20 (1990), para. 49.

68. Id., para. 70. The speaker's reference to the "urgency" of doing this was omitted in the summary record.

69. U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1990/SR.18 (1990), para. 20.

70. U.N. Doc E/CN.4/1990 Sr.21 (1990), para 57.

71. U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1990/SR.19 (1990), para. 53 (Belgium).

72. U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1990/SR.20/Add.1 (1990), para. 67 (Italy).

73. It was Yugoslavia that redrafted and resubmitted the final text of DRD at the 1986 session of the Commission, making a number of changes in the Working Group's draft that facilitated a wider agreement and, in the General Assembly, near-consensus. To some extent Yugoslavia claims "ownership" of the DRD and feels its cautious approach in the past has been justified.

74. This support was organized by France which, like Portugal, had been opposing the more conservative views of the United Kingdom and the Federal Republic of Germany. the conditions of European community nonopposition were more explicit emphasis in the resolution on "Human rights," as opposed to "right to development," and no reference to the establishment of a "monitoring" or "evaluation" mechanism such as a committee of experts.

75. There had, of course, been no previous coordination between these offices, and the request for information on measures taken implies a mandate to take measures.

76. Comm'n Res. 1990/18 (1990).

77. U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1990/SR.38 (1990), paras. 68-69 (United States), 77 (United Kingdom), 80-81 (Japan), and 83 (West Germany).

78. U.N. Doc. A/RES/s-18/3 (1990), para. 24; adopted by consensus on May 1, 1990. See Barsh, A Special Session of the General Assembly, 85 Am. J. Int'l L. 192-200 (191).

79. United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Report 1990 16 (1990); U.N. Doc. A/45/41 Annex 1 (1990), para. 13, which also refers to need to "enhance the participation of all men and women in economic and political life (and) protect cultural identities." See also Barsh, Human Rights, Human Resources, and the International Development Strategy for the 1990s, 2 Peoples for Human Rights (IMADR Yearbook) 33-48 (1990).

80. Speaking notes of Zagorka Ilic (Yugoslavia), Third Committee, General Assembly 45th Session, October 30, 1990.

81. U.N. Doc. A/C.3/45/L.28, para. 6, paraphrasing para. 200 of the report of the Global Consultation. Some governments objected to a reference in the original informal draft of this resolution to "monitoring and implementation" of the Declaration, and it was deleted by oral amendment prior to the vote.

82. Author's personal notes of the debate and action in the Third Committee, November 23, 1990. Japan also made an explanation after the vote, reiterating its position that there is no such thing as a right to development, but stating that it did not wish to break the consensus.

83. Right to development, U.N. Doc. A/45/673 (1990).

84. Committee for Development Planning, Report of the Twenty-Sixth Session. U.N ESCOR Supp. (No. 7), U.N. Doc. E/1990/27 at 49 (1990).

85. See, e.g., Mathiason and Smith, The diagnostics of reform: the evolving tasks and functions of the United Nations, 7 Pub. Admin. & Dev. 143-63 (1987).

86. Grassroots participation is pursued by specialized agencies such as ILO and IFAD, for example, while UNDP and the World Bank still largely pursue top-down strategies. The Assembly is also inclined to adopt inconsistent resolutions on the same question such as the right to own private property. G.A. Res. 43/123 (1988) and G.A. Res. 43/124 (1988).

87. This would shift much of the load from the United States and the Soviet Union to the European Community, Japan, and larger industrializing economies such as Brazil and India. Budgetary politics would become more multipolar and include more countries from the South.

88. The United States has isolated itself increasingly from "the Twelve" and would not likely be part of a European bloc. The Soviet Union, which now appears to be considering a reduction in its contributions to the United Nations, may also remain peripheral to a new European voting group.

89. Strong Eastern European co-sponsorship of a number of recent US ideological initiatives in the General Assembly, such as "the right of everyone to own property," U.N. Doc. A/C.3/45/L.32 (1990), suggests the emergence of a new US-dominated Eastern European group, philosophically to the right of the European Community, rather than the absorption of Eastern Europe by the Community.


Arthur W. Blaser is Associate Professor of Political Science at Chapman University in Orange, California. He is the author of several articles on human rights and nongovernmental organizations.

John P. Humphrey is a Professor of Law at McGill University and is a former Vice President of the International Commission of Jurists and former President of the Canadian Foundation for Human Rights. He has published numerous articles on international, political, and legal subjects in American, British, and Canadian journals.

John O'Manique is a professor of International Affairs at Carleton University, Ottawa. He has written numerous journal articles and several books, including World Leadership and International Development (Tycooly International, 1987).

Ann Marie Prevost is an associate with Dewey Ballantine. She received her J.D. from Rutgers, M.A. from Seton Hall, Asian Studies, and B.S.F.S from Georgetown School of Foreign Service.

Philip Vuciri Ramaga is a doctoral candidate at University of Essex, doing research on the personal status of refugees. He graduated from the University of Makerere, Uganda and did post-graduate work at the Law Development Centre, Kampala, Uganda. He is currently a legal officer with Interrights, London.

Sumner M. Rosen is on the faculty of the School of Social Work at Columbia University. He as written widely on labor issues.

Toine van Dongen serves as an Expert on the United Nations Working Group on Disappearances. He has undertaken a number of investigative missions including Peru, Columbia, Ecuador, and Sri Lanka. Mr. van Dongen is a lawyer educated in the Netherlands and the United States. For a number of years he served as the Coordinator for Human Rights in the Dutch Foreign Ministry. Currently, he serves as a member of the Dutch Embassy in Geneva, and his responsibilities include the International Labour Organization, the World Health Organization, and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.