The right to development

Ethical development as a human right

Authored by: Stephen P. Marks

Routledge Handbook of Development Ethics

Print publication date:  July  2018
Online publication date:  July  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138647909
eBook ISBN: 9781315626796
Adobe ISBN:


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In this chapter I examine whether and to what extent the core principles of development ethics overlap with the ethical underpinnings of the UN Declaration on the Right to Development (DRTD). The chapter offers a systematic review of how the ten articles of the DRTD, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1986, address directly all seven values of development ethics. In doing so, it draws upon efforts to clarify the meaning of the DRTD through expert inputs over more than thirty years that have expanded the interpretation of its ethical content, and its political and legal significance. One of the most salient contradictions of human rights in international development is that the human rights instrument that directly addresses all agreed-upon ethical principles of development, namely, the DRTD remains mired in “political theatre” and consequently is inoperable. The Human Rights Council has established a procedure for finalizing the criteria that clarify the content of the right to development and has appointed a Special Rapporteur on this right. It remains uncertain whether these efforts will move right to development from political rhetoric to development practice, notwithstanding the fact that it translates the principles of development ethics into international human rights norms.

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