It's had a very useful if sometimes controversial past and it will have great relevance for many more years ahead.
That's the sense one has about the Declaration on the Right to Development as it is commemorated 30 years after its adoption by the United Nations General Assembly in 1986.

Three decades ago, the Declaration "broke new ground in the struggle for greater freedom, equality and justice," remarked the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, at a session of the Human Rights Council on 15June, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Declaration.

Several least-developed countries - Benin, Tanzania, and Cambodia among others - voiced their concern at the World Trade Organization on 22 September over the lack of progress in addressing their core issues such as the simplification of preferential rules of origin as promised in the Nairobi ministerial declaration (NMD), several participants told the SUNS.

During a meeting of the WTO's Committee on Rules of Origin (CRO), the LDCs reminded the preference- granting developed countries as well as the developing countries declaring themselves in a position to do so to notify the measures they are required to undertake for simplifying the preferential rules of origin under the Nairobi ministerial declaration of December 2015.

The adoption of the 2030 Agenda by the UN coincided with a change of government in Argentina, which is reversing the public policies that were put in place to deal with the serious social, economic, institutional and political crisis of 2001 and 2002.

In its first months in power, the political coalition Cambiemos (Spanish for Let’s change) shifted away from a development model based on strengthening the domestic market, trade protectionism, expansion of social rights and an active role of the state in income redistribution through the collection of taxes on exports of agricultural products, towards a model favouring free trade, a competitive position in the global market, a lower level of state intervention in the overall economy and a reduction in taxes for the rich. Instead of continuing to expand social protection as required by the SDGs, the current government is aligning public policies with the interests of the sectors with greater political and economic power. The violation of various economic and social rights, which has occurred in a very short time, is creating a gradual and growing rejection within different social sectors.

A session of the HLPF. (Photo: UN)

The 2030 Agenda is both a problem and a solution for the UN system. The UN, especially the UN development system, must be encouraged to return to its value-driven role in the public interest, grounded in the explicit adoption of norms and standards and delivered through programming that does not deviate from its core business. Otherwise it will find itself caught in a self-inflicted vicious circle of decline. “More of the same” will see the continuation of its shrinking role in global affairs at a time when so many challenges require international co-operation and resolve.

Unfortunately, whenever civil society and government strike discussions on human rights a certain unease sets in. The mood quickly dampens. On one hand, government mounts a defensive posture and on the other, civil society embarks on an offensive strategy. This gets worse when you throw in the word taxation. Like a spark to an inflammable concoction, you have the perfect recipe for an explosive discussion.

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