18th Session of the Working Group on the Right to Development

This weekly session of the Working Group (WG) was organized as a place to discuss about criteria and sub-criteria written in the draft of the Declaration on the Right to Development (RTD) and find a common language to agree upon. OIDEL has participate on this Working Group as part of the CINGO.

This WG has been working on the RTD for years, discussing on the principles and identifying the necessity of indicators and criteria. They represent an innovation, a new vision of human rights in which individual and collective rights are interrelated in the process of guaranteeing an equal and fair development for all.

The invited experts presented, from different perspectives, the reasons of the importance of this document and the need of a comprehensive development of standards and indicators. Some of them stressed also the importance of a link with the language of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to gain consensus and they discussed on the issue of the nature of the document, whether it should be legally binding or not.

During the discussion, it was addressed the issue of consensus and the need of a joint, equilibrated action, recalling also Goal 17 of the SDGs, but the difficulties were numerous, starting with the US declaration of no further engagement in the discussion and the polarization between developing and developed countries.

Some of the States present, as the one represented by the European Union, expressed disagreement on the necessity to adopt a legally binding document. Furthermore, the EU reminded the numerous reserves they have on the language of the criteria and sub-criteria.

Following this statement, some States as Egypt, Venezuela, Iran, Equator, together with NAM and CINGO[1], reminded the WG that the document shall be finished between this and the 19th session and there has been sufficient time to come up with comments and modifications to discuss instead of just taking a disagreeing position.

From this moment on, the WG found itself at an impasse, the EU and Japan were asking for more time to consult on the documents, more than the one already given by the numerous recesses. The other States, supported by NAM and CINGO, were appealing the States to engage in a constructive dialogue to use at best the time given. Neither formal nor informal meetings helped the States to move from this strong polarization. Nothing broke the division created during these sessions, not even the sensible words of the Chairperson Ambassador Zamir Akram or the appeal of CINGO to remember that the WG exist to ameliorate the life of people and not to take political positions.

During this last day, NAM held a private meeting after which presented a document with recommendations and conclusions discussed during an informal. In this occasion too, the States couldn’t agree on the issue of the legally binding document nor on the respect of the deadline for the drafting of this Document on the RTD.


Beatrice Bilotti

[1] Group of organizations consulting and presenting a united front in the WG in which OIDEL is an active participant.

UPR: The “empty chair” crisis

La semana pasada seguímos el Examen Periódico Universal de varios países, entre ellos los Estados Unidos. Os dejamos en esta entrada nuestras impresiones sobre el mecanismo y la participación de la sociedad civil

Sans titre

Last week the 22nd session of the Universal Period Review took place at Palais des Nations. Speaking on the podium, on behalf of the state they represent, were the delegations of United States of America, Marshall Islands, Croatia, Jamaica and Libya. The reports were issued by states different in composition, history and culture: this heterogeneity has been reflected in the content and modalities of their expositions, but the equal speaking time and modalities of interaction given to each state highlight how the UPR can be an instrument of comparison based on equality and inclusive participation.

If homogeneity has been granted to speakers, as to ensure the equal right of expressing progresses made and concerns linked to human rights protection in their country, the “public” taking part to the reports changed profoundly as the speakers alternated on the podium.

Listeners of the UPR of United States were numerous and active, despite the short speaking time given to each of them. They pointed out copious issues to be discussed and they stressed the urgency of several ingoing violations. On the other hand, Marshall Islands, as well as Croatia Jamaica and Libya, faced a limited and compliant audience. These features affected the debate: in the first occasion, an insufficient time was dedicated to the debate, while for the second group of countries it was not exploited in a profitable and proper way.

But the unexcused absence was that of the civil society. In a mechanism conceived for the participation of the “third actor”, greater importance should have been paid to the point of view the representatives of interests diverging from those pursued by the State were carrying. The UPR, as it was imagined, should be an instrument by which NGOs and other relevant organizations could express their opinions, in order to sensitize the Government to whom they are addressing and other States to their concerns.

As a matter of fact, instead, the role played by those actors is lacking of incisiveness and has been reduced to a mere, formal recognition of the existence and relevance of those parties, without the possibility to concretely influence the conduct of States and International Organizations.

It seems to be evident that only by focusing on active participation, of both state and civil society representatives, and by stressing the importance of the role of NGOs as an alternative view, the UPR could gain more adherence to reality and could enforce progresses made in the field of protection of Human Rights. As long as States carry on considering it not as a deadline to achieve important goals and as an instrument of accountability and transparency, the UPR sessions would continue to be perceived as a non  binding mechanism of control, despite the potential significance this instrument has been conferred with.

Federica Chiaro