GENEVA, Sept. 15 (Xinhua) -- The UN Human Rights Council on Thursday held talks on the right to development, with many speakers reiterating their commitment to protecting it as a fundamental human right.
Nada Al-Nashif, Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the panel discussion was an important opportunity to reflect on the centrality of human rights to development, within the context of a range of global challenges.
"The COVID-19 pandemic exposed and exacerbated pre-existing inequalities, setting back development by several years in many parts of the world," she said.
The UN official stressed that establishing a new global deal underpinned by solidarity and cooperation would help rebuild trust between people and governments, combat inequality, and create the appropriate environment for realizing the right to development.
Martin Chungong, Secretary-General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, said that the UN Declaration on the Right to Development emphasizes that since humans, both individually and collectively, are at the heart of economic, social, political and cultural activities, "There is no time to lose regarding the right to a safe and clean environment, the right to food or the right to health."
Building back better after COVID-19 is the best chance to deliver on commitments under the 2030 Agenda, he added.
Saad Alfarargi, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to development, told the panel in his keynote speech that the global climate crisis, the increasing number of natural disasters, and new global pandemics all have the potential to undo decades of development. This would hamper human rights for all.
"The COVID-19 pandemic triggered an unprecedented global public health emergency, and the largest global economic crisis in more than a century, leading to a dramatic increase in inequality within and across countries," Alfarargi said.
Therefore, it is more important than ever to take a hard look at the way economic recovery and development efforts are approached, he added.
Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, Vice Chair of the UN Committee for Development Policy, said that addressing extreme inequality and state obligations on cooperative action are key to implementing the right to development. Collective cooperation at the international level is required to address problems that cannot be solved by national action alone, she said.
Mihir Kanade, Chair of the Expert Mechanism on the Right to Development, said that the international community must understand that the right to development remains unrealized, despite being reaffirmed unanimously in almost 25 international instruments and agendas. Unless international cooperation becomes a duty, it is "impossible to achieve international goals: all policies and agendas need to be based on the normative framework that development is a right, not a charity," he said.
Ordhukhan Gahramanzande, Designated Chairperson of the Non-Aligned Movement Youth Organization, said that the right to development encompasses all other human rights.
"It incorporates the principles of equality, non-discrimination, participation, transparency, accountability, as well as international cooperation in an integrated manner, and it is the right of every human being to the constant improvement of well-being," Gahramanzande underlined.
At Thursday's panel discussion, some speakers also expressed support for the creation of a United Nations convention on the right to development, and for the inclusion of the right to development in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The level of inequality has now become "obscene", said Federico Villegas, President of the UN Human Rights Council. He told the panel that it is striking to see very few developed countries actively participating in this dialogue.
"This gap of perception on the right to development changed dramatically with the pandemic, when the world realized that it was in the same boat, and that when everybody was included, nobody lost," he said.