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“Realizing a vision for transformative development”

4 December 2013
“Realizing a vision for transformative development”

Opening remarks by Mr. Michael Møller
Acting Director-General, United Nations Office at Geneva
“Realizing a vision for transformative development”

Palais des Nations, Library Events Room
Wednesday, 4 December 2013 at 1 p.m.

as prepared

Ms. Pillay
Mrs. Robinson
Mr. Mokhiber
Distinguished panelists
Ladies and Gentlemen:

I am very pleased to welcome you all to the UNOG Library for today’s special event – the launch of the book “Realizing the Right to Development: Essays in Commemoration of 25 years of the United Nations Declaration on the Right to Development”. We see our Library as a platform for exchanging knowledge and debating issues across the UN agenda. It is a privilege to have Ms. Pillay and Ms. Robinson here with us, as well as illustrious speakers at the podium. A warm thanks to all who have made this event possible and to the speakers - especially those who have travelled from afar to be with us.

In 1986, the UN Declaration on the Right to Development committed the world to true development. Many times over this vision of development has been reaffirmed by the international community, from the Millennium Declaration to last year’s ‘Rio plus 20’ conference.

There is no doubt that the Declaration, with its focus on people-centred development, has particular relevance and importance today. And as we look forward to the post-2015 era and the sustainable development goals, it is even more important. Global challenges and crises are interconnected. Economic, social and environmental concerns are inseparable. And human rights are integral to them all.

The Declaration has enshrined the right of people everywhere “to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development”. Its underlying principles, including empowerment, and inclusive development that favours equality, social justice and sustainability should be used as a blueprint for our development discussions – now and in the future.

A word on empowerment: as Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said, “when we grant people the right to unlock their own potential, we trigger a transformation of our world.” Our collective task is to put in place conditions where people can unlock their own potential to transform their lives. This is particularly true for youth and women. These groups make up two thirds of the world’s population, yet are often marginalized and prevented from contributing meaningfully to their communities.

It is also clear from the Declaration that development must occur in a comprehensive manner, addressing all obstacles to an equitable and fair growth. We all have a responsibility to ensure that this happens in a sustained way.

While it is true that the right to development stimulates political debate, it is difficult to ignore the impetus for an inclusive, people-centred and human rights-based development.

As we see from the contributions of more than 30 international experts in this publication, the right to development has a far-reaching potential to shape and advance human rights, development and peace and security. We have the privilege of listening to some of these voices today.

I look forward to hearing the different perspectives represented here this afternoon and to an engaging discussion.

Thank you very much.