November 28, 2021

Elaboration of a new draft Convention on the Right to Development kicks off at the UN

3 min read

By Daniel Uribe At the South Center

The Intergovernmental Working Group (IGWG) on the Right to Development met virtually for its 21st session from 17-21 May 2021 to discuss a new draft Convention on the Right to Development. The session had originally been scheduled for May 2020, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Working Group was chaired by Ambassador Zamir Akram as Chair-Rapporteur for the session. Ambassador Akram has been leading the work of the Working Group since 2015. Prior to that, he served as Pakistan’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN) and other International Organizations in Geneva from 2008 till 2015.

The Intergovernmental Working Group (IGWG) on the Right to Development met virtually for its 21st session from 17-21 May 2021 to discuss a new draft Convention on the Right to Development. The session had originally been scheduled for May 2020, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Working Group was chaired by Ambassador Zamir Akram as Chair-Rapporteur for the session. Ambassador Akram has been leading the work of the Working Group since 2015. Prior to that, he served as Pakistan’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN) and other International Organizations in Geneva from 2008 till 2015.

The experts from the drafting group were invited to present the different sections and Articles of the draft Convention, including the rationale and means of possible implementation of the provisions. Delegations expressed their views, sought clarifications and provided suggestions for the drafting group and the Chair-Rapporteur to take into consideration for improving the text. Key discussions were focused on the (lack of) definition of “development” and the inclusion of a reference to a human-rights based approach to development. The main elements of the preamble, which lists both binding international agreements and non-binding declarations, were also discussed, with the length of the preamble being highlighted.

The experts from the drafting group emphasized that the draft Convention was not seeking to impose new obligations upon States but sought to draw upon existing State obligations regarding the right to development, international human rights law, and the UN Charter. According to the discussants, the nature of such obligations were fully in compliance with the States’ sovereignty.

Discussions also highlighted the inclusion of possible extraterritorial obligations for States in the draft Convention, as well as gender mainstreaming in the text. The draft Convention also proposes the possibility of setting up a Conference of Parties and an implementation mechanism. The final provisions are very similar to existing human rights conventions, particularly the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The Conclusions and Recommendations for the Working Group were subjected to extensive consultations among States participating in the session. While the EU and other similarly inclined States wished to integrate their ‘divergent views’ into the conclusions, other States recognized that an international instrument of a binding nature on the right to development could support its realization for all, and stop all measures that might have a negative impact on the right to development. After extensive informal consultations among States, it was agreed to fully reflect both positions in the report. In the final recommendations, the Working Group has requested the Chair-Rapporteur to conduct further consultations with the different stakeholders, as well as to continue the collaboration with the Expert Mechanism and the Special Rapporteur.

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