Media Statement

22 September 2016

Deputy Minister Landers participates in the High-Level Meeting on the Right to Development at the UN in New York

International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister Luwellyn Landers has today, Thursday, 22 September 2016, participated in a High-level Meeting on the sidelines of the General Debate of the 71st session of the UN General Assembly in New York, to mark the  30th anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Right to Development.

This Declaration was adopted through the landmark UN General Assembly resolution 41/128 of 1986.

"Sadly, not much progress has been registered in terms of the realisation of the objectives of the Declaration," said Deputy Minister Landers when he delivered South Africa's statement during the meeting.

The rationale behind the UN Declaration on the Right to Development is to create conducive conditions at the national, regional and international levels so as to ensure the constant improvement to the quality of life of people everywhere.

Therefore, the right to development encapsulates the practical enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all people.

In this regard, Deputy Minister Landers stressed that: "The right to development is indispensable. It is intrinsically linked to the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights, which are essential in ensuring the enhancement of the quality of life of those afflicted by extreme poverty. The notion of the right to development is therefore central and underpins the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other Internationally Agreed Development Goals."

One of the major concerns and key challenges is the absence of consensus on the means of implementation for the attainment of these goals and development.

"We require a paradigm shift from posturing and the apparent lack of political will to take concrete steps for the commitment of the requisite resources at all levels necessary to the achievement of these goals," said the Deputy Minister.

The South African Constitution internalises the letter and spirit of the UN Bill of Rights as contained in Chapter 2 of the UN Charter.

The economic, social and cultural rights in the South African national context, are a legitimate subject of litigation in courts of law.

Deputy Minister Landers mentioned that South Africa's national position has inspired and confirmed the notion of justifiability and the progressive realisation at the level of the UN human rights system.

"We believe fully in the General Recommendations 9 and 12 of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights," said the Deputy Minister.

International cooperation is an obligation by all States in terms of the Charter of the United Nations. This principle of international law is paramount to the realisation of the right to development.

States are duty-bound to ensure that their collective actions contribute to an enabling international environment for development.

However, Deputy Minister raised concern that the growing practice of using human rights as a conditionality for development cooperation contradicts the principle of international cooperation and is an undue impediment to the realisation of the right to development.

"States should refrain from this practise. South Africa reiterates the collective position of the Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement taken in Havana, Cuba, in September 2006 for the UN human rights system to elaborate a Convention on the Right to Development as a matter of urgency, necessity, and priority," said the Deputy Minister.

Furthermore, Deputy Minister Landers stated that South Africa strongly believes that the corporate sector has a responsibility and an obligation to invest in social development, particularly in those countries where they have business activities.

"Such investments would significantly contribute to the mobilization of local resources which are necessary for the realisation of the right to development," said the Deputy Minister.

In conclusion, the Deputy Minister highlighted the fact that the right to development is about the economic, social and cultural development of people. Failure to realise this noble goal, would be a betrayal of the core principles of the UN Charter and, in particular, the billions of people worldwide who continue to linger in conditions of hopelessness that are afflicted by debilitating poverty.

"South Africa will continue to advocate for the eradication of poverty, which is an affront on human dignity, and therefore a violation of human rights," the Deputy Minister concluded.

Enquiries: Mr Clayson Monyela, 083 564 2024

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