Tamara Kunanayakam, Sri Lanka’s former Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, was re-elected as Chairperson-Rapporteur of the UN Human Rights Council’s Intergovernmental Working Group on the Right to Development, which held its 14th session from 13 to 17 May, in Geneva. This is the third time that Ms. Kunanayakam has been nominated by the Non-Aligned Movement for the post, which is an honorary non-remunerated position, and has received the unanimous support of all members of the United Nations for her expertise on the right to development and her remarkable leadership.
This, despite attempts last year by Sri Lankan government to prevent her from presenting the report of the Working Group to the Human Rights Council in Geneva and to the UN General Assembly in New York, through a letter addressed to Navi Pillay and in violation of UN rules and procedures, well informed sources told The Island.
The Working Group is mandated by the Human Rights Council to ensure the practical implementation of the Declaration on the Right to Development, adopted by the General Assembly in 1986. It is not a mechanism set up to judge whether or not a country is implementing the right to development, but to work toward the elaboration of a set of standards for its implementation, which could evolve into an international legally binding instrument.
The principal architects of the Declaration on the Right to Development were newly independent States organised within the Non-Aligned Movement. The Declaration recognises the need to consolidate political independence through economic independence and to establish an international order, based on respect for sovereign equality and non-interference, supportive of national efforts to promote social well-being for all. The concept of the right to development emerged in the context of global economic and financial crises, and continues its relevance today. The failure of growth-centred development strategies, based on foreign debt, profit and export, had resulted in a dramatic rise in socio-economic inequalities within and between countries, and the conditions created for the dismantling of States in the developing world and their re-colonisation through unilateral interventions, including direct military aggression.
In her opening speech, Ms Kunanayakam underlined that “the human person and all people are its central subjects – not objects,” they are “its driving force, its architect, and beneficiary.” There is no single model of development, it “cannot be imposed from the outside.” She pointed out that States had the primary responsibility to create the conditions for its realization by removing national and international obstacles, through international solidarity and cooperation.
Ms. Kunanayakam will be presenting the Report of the Working Group to the Human Rights Council at its September 2013 session, and soon after to the General Assembly at its 68th session in New York.