New York

22 September 2016

Secretary-General's remarks at opening of the High-level Segment of the General Assembly to Commemorate the Thirtieth Anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development

Today we celebrate 30 years of the Declaration on the Right to Development.

In the three decades since its adoption, the world has changed dramatically.

Population has increased by 50 per cent.  

Old divides are breaking down: between East and West, North and South, developed and developing.

Emerging economies are major players in global trade and dynamics.

The impact of climate change is widely recognized.

Our understanding of the relationship between the environment and development has been transformed by the concept of sustainable development.

Yet across these and other changes, the Declaration on the Right to Development has retained its relevance.

Its call for a world in which all rights and freedoms can be realized for everyone, everywhere, has profound significance.

Despite great strides forward, developing countries still struggle with the diversification of their economies, international trade, macroeconomic and fiscal issues and ensuring equitable and sustainable frameworks for the use of natural resources. 

There are more least developed countries now than in 1986. Even among middle-income countries, few are on paths that can ensure sustained, sustainable and equitable growth and poverty eradication.

Developed countries also face new challenges, such as rising inequality and financial crises. 

We have new prospects for realizing the right to development thanks to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and SDG 17 on strengthening the means of implementation and revitalizing the global partnership, together with the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.

The 2030 Agenda explicitly recognizes the Declaration and reflects its spirit. Its emphasis on equality, participation, empowerment and ensuring that no one is left behind, echoes the definition of the right to development as “an inalienable human right”.

It recognizes, like the Declaration, that each country has primary responsibility for its own economic and social development while affirming that international cooperation and partnership are essential to ensure implementation.

The 2030 Agenda has unprecedented potential to fulfil the aspirations that motivated the Declaration on the Right to Development, and that remain critical to this day. 

Let us celebrate the Declaration for its past – and more importantly for the promise it holds for the future.

Thank you very much.