Right to development in danger

  • Español
  • English
  • Français
  • Deutsch
  • Português
  • Opinión
-A +A
In Monterrey the old liberal principle of “Trade not Aid” was ultimately accepted. The message of the richest parts of the world was clear: To overcome the disadvantages of the third world, more trade and private investment are prescribed. Everything else (economic, social and cultural development) appears as an extra.

These arguments were repeated in Geneva in the debate on the right to development conducted by the human rights commission from March 17 to April 26, 2002.

One of the main defenders of world neoliberalism is Canada. “Canada is not convinced that the present system has a negative influence on realizing the right to development for everyone on account of the undeniable contribution made by the international economic system to development”, declared Susan Gregson, Canada’s representative in the UN.

In contrast, the Cuban delegation and several human rights organizations argue that neoliberal globalization is a phenomenon from which only a minority profits. With the help of statistics, data and analyses, they show that the right to development proclaimed by the UN General Assembly was increasingly weakened and now faces dissolution.

“According to the 2000/2001 World Bank report on world development, 2.8 billion people, nearly half of the 6 billion inhabitants of our planet, live on less than $2 per day and 1.2 billion, a fifth, on less than a dollar a day. The average income of the 20 richest countries of the planet is 37 times the average income of the 20 poorest countries. This unequal condition has doubled in the last 40 years”, emphasized Jorge Ferrer Rodriguez, member of the Cuban delegation at the United Nations.

These inequalities arise when the promises of the developed countries to invest 0.7% of their gross domestic product in economic aid are far from being realized like the latest promises of the European Union. Today economic aid has reached 0.22% of the gross domestic product. Only five countries of Europe have reached or exceeded that goal. The most industrialized and richest country on this planet, the United States, has paradoxically the lowest place on the economic aid index: merely 0.11% of its gross domestic product.

The 1986 declaration on the right to development contains several points that are unacceptable for industrialized countries and transnational corporations. Among others it includes the right of people to exercise complete sovereignty over all their natural resources and riches, pleads for the establishment of a new international economic order, shows a direct connection between disarmament and development and proposes that the resources released through disarmament benefit the economic and social development and prosperity of all people with special consideration for developing countries.

These are some of the reasons why representatives of rich countries and other actors who push neoliberal globalization (World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization) seek to bury the right to development. The right to development was marginalized and not discussed in the international agendas and meetings. Instead “good government”, “struggle against terro5rism” or “distressed states” etc were emphasized.

Eighty civil society organizations from all over the world issued a call in which they warned that the “declaration on the right to development” is in danger and urged the study groups appointed by the human rights commission to investigate the observance of the right to development according to the mandate of the commission.

“The right to development has changed into a utopia claimed by the people on the streets of Seattle, Genoa, Porto Alegre and Barcelona while those holding the reins of power lay claim to the right of armed aggression, economic aggression and plundering of the nations by large corporations and transnational banks under connivance of many governments both in the North and the South”, said Jairo Sanches from the American jurist association.

The third world center of Europe (Centro Europa-Tereer Mundo, CETIM) noted that enforcing the right to development without removing the obstacles in the way of development would be hypocritical or deceitful. Foreign indebtedness is a problem of most countries of the South. The only possible solution is debt cancellation, the CETIM insists.

While the representative of the European Union, the Spanish ambassador Joaquin Perez-Villanueva y Tobar, pointed out that the states themselves have the main responsibility regarding the right to development, Cuba’s representative, Jorge Ferrer Rodriguez, recalled that the national powers for converting the right to development see themselves impaired by an increasingly unflattering international economic, financial and commercial environment that eludes their control.

Ferrer adds that the so-called structural adjustment reforms of the neoliberal model carried out for many years under different terms by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund and the trade liberalization enforced in some sectors by the World Trade Organization considerably lessen the possibilities of states for fulfilling their national responsibilities.

Finally the commission on the defense of human rights in Central America (Comision para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos en Centroamerica, CODE-HUACA) stressed that many transnational businesses of developed countries do not pay just wages although they enjoy freedoms and privileges or hastily close particularly in the clothing market throwing thousands of female workers without work on the street. “The developed countries should realize that the more misery and distress prevail in our countries, the greater will be the number of emigrants and that this phenomenon must be encountered with seriousness and humaneness. Such unequal North-South relations cannot possibly be maintained”, the commission concluded.

[This 2002 article is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, http://www.attac.de/rundbriefe/sandimdetriebe09_02.pdf ]

Subscribe to America Latina en Movimiento - RSS