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2000 | 56th Regular Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights (20 March - 28 April 2000)

Contributions of faith-based organizations to the right to development

March 20 – April 28, 2000
Palais des Nations, Geneva

Joint statement on behalf of Franciscans International, Dominicans for Justice and Peace and the Lutheran World Federation.

At informal meetings during the 55h Commission on Human Rights several members of the diplomatic community expressed a strong desire to avoid a counterproductive discussion during the meeting of Working Group on the Right to Development scheduled for September 1999. They expressed a wish for an open, informal, practical and informative set of reflective conversations with various regional experts about their work in the field of development.

Franciscans International (FI), Dominicans for Justice and Peace (OP) and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), decided to co-host a seminar on the practical challenges of implementing the right to development. The seminar entitled “Implementation of the Right to Development: Challenges and Opportunities” took place at the United Nations Palais des Nations on 7-8 September 1999.

The meeting was to serve as an informal brainstorming session in a relaxed atmosphere to assist the diplomatic community with insights from the experiences of various experts in development from different countries. The seminar was not intended to be an official reference point in the deliberations of the UN Working Group.

To insert new opinions and experiences into a long-standing discussion we solicited practitioners in the field of the right to development from different parts of the world to share their experiences and reflections on the successes and the practical difficulties that they encounter in their work for development. The seminar’s panel of ten experts/ practitioners exchanged views with people from sixty diplomatic missions, OHCHR, UNDP, UNCTAD, the World Bank in Washington (via tele-video conference) and NGOs.

In general the results of the seminar were positive and provided a creative opportunity for NGOs to facilitate a difficult but fruitful discussion within the UN community. Many points made during the seminar are reflected in the report of the Independent Expert Mr. Sengupta as well. There is a clear and critical need for participation of the intended beneficiaries in the planning and operationalization of any development project. Operationalization of the right of development cannot be reduced to talk about economic assistance. Transparency and accountability are necessary protections against corruption and misuse of funds intended for development. Women must be more consciously involved in the planning and execution of programs. The international community needs to address new and creative practical ways to finance the needed programs to help individuals, nations and regions to develop their potentials.

We assumed the responsibility for the seminar because of our religious faith convictions and the fact that so many of our people, Franciscans, Dominicans and Lutherans are engaged in various development projects throughout the world. We share the High Commissioner’s belief that development, democracy and human rights are intimately related and interconnected. We shall continue to attempt to serve as facilitators in further discussions.

We are looking forward to cooperating with the newly appointed Chair of the Working Group for the purpose of achieving concrete results in the implementation of the right to development.

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