Right to Development: Indian scholar Mihir Kanade to chair UN group of experts to draft international treaty

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Published: November 1, 2019 5:02:09 PM

Kanade further explains that although the right to development has been recognized as a human right by the UN General Assembly through a declaration way back in 1986, it has not yet been effectively operationalized, thereby necessitating strong calls from developing countries for a binding treaty.

Right to Development, Indian scholar, Mihir Kanade, UN, draft international treaty, united nations, Human Rights CouncilMihir Kanade (Pic credit : mihir.kanade/facebook)

United Nations (UN) has appointed renowned international law scholar from India, Dr Mihir Kanade to Chair the drafting group of international experts to prepare a new international treaty on the Right to Development.

Dr Kanade is the Academic Director of the United Nations-mandated University for Peace, headquartered in Costa Rica, and the Head of its Department of International Law. The process for this long-awaited landmark human rights treaty was set in motion through Resolution 39/9 adopted on 27 September 2018 by the UN Human Rights Council.

A longtime advocate of the right to development, Kanade explained to the Financial Express Online that “this right guarantees to every human person and all peoples the entitlement to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural, civil and political development that is consistent with and based on all other human rights and fundamental freedoms. It is essentially about the right to an enabling national as well as an international environment conducive to the realization of development for all.”

“This, therefore, entails not just evaluating national development policies from the perspective of the right to development of citizens, but equally, the policies adopted by States individually and collectively which might have an adverse impact on the right to the development of others. These policies with an international dimension include, among other things, conditionalities on loans and development aid by international financial institutions or by countries bilaterally as well as terms of trade and investment agreements.”

Kanade further explains that although the right to development has been recognized as a human right by the UN General Assembly through a declaration way back in 1986, it has not yet been effectively operationalized, thereby necessitating strong calls from developing countries for a binding treaty. The treaty-making process adopted in this case is, however, rather unique. Unlike most treaties where the draft texts follow initial negotiations among States, in this instance, governments, including India, decided to request the Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on the Right to Development of the UN Human Rights Council to submit a draft treaty for consideration and negotiations.

To assist in this process, the UN through its Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, appointed a group of international experts to develop a draft treaty, with Kanade as the Chair. Kanade’s purview included preparing an initial draft for sharing with other members of the group for further refinement. In another novel approach that aims at making the negotiations informed and quicker, the draft treaty will be accompanied by exhaustive commentaries prepared by Dr Kanade on each provision to assist States during negotiations.

Other experts in the drafting group include Judge Margarette May Macaulay from Jamaica (Commissioner of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights and former judge of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights), Dr Koen de Feyter from Belgium (Professor of International Law at University of Antwerp), Dr Makane Mbengue from Senegal (Professor of International Law at University of Geneva) and Dr. Diane Desierto from the Philippines (Professor of Human Rights Law and Global Affairs at the University of Notre Dame, USA).

He notes that the drafting group recently met at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from October 15-17, 2019 and adopted a final draft text. The meeting was organised by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, which was represented by Bat-Erden Ayush and Richard Lapper. Ambassador Zamir Akram of Pakistan, the Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on the Right to Development, also attended and addressed the meeting.

As Chair, Kanade will now finalize the draft treaty as adopted by the drafting group and the accompanying commentaries prepared by him by the end of November 2019 for formal submission. These documents will be presented by Ambassador Akram, with support of Kanade and the other experts, to the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on the right to development of the UN Human Rights Council at its upcoming meeting in April 2020 in Geneva.

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