Arjun Sengupta came to the United Nations Human Rights system after
having served as an Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund.
It was not an obvious move: the global financial and trade institutions are
often criticized for their denial of any legal responsibility under human
rights law and their complicity in human rights violations. On the other
hand, the push from the Global South for the recognition of the right to
development as a human right was based on the argument that greater
justice in the global political economy was required to assist developing
countries in the realization of human rights. Arjun Sengupta's professional
track record prepared him for a task that required facilitating a dialogue
between development economists and human rights lawyers. Here is what
he wrote in 2002:
A country, it may be noted, can develop by many different
processes ….There may be an impressive growth of the export
industries with increased access to global markets, but without
integrating the economic hinterland into the process of growth and
not breaking the structure of a dual economy. All these may be
regarded as development in the conventional sense. However, they
will not be regarded as a process of development, as objects of
claim as human rights, so long as these are not accompanied by a
process where equal opportunities were provided. Economic
growth, attended by increased inequalities or disparities and rising
concentrations of wealth and economic power, and without any
improvement in indicators of social development, education,
health, gender balance and environmental protection respecting
the human rights standards and, what is most important, if such
growth is associated with any violation of civil and political rights,
it cannot fulfill the human right to development.
According to the Declaration on the Right to Development, the right to
development entitles every human person and all peoples to participate in,
contribute to, and enjoy development, in which all human rights can be fully
1 Arjun Sengupta, On the Theory and Practice of the Right to Development, 24 HUM. RTS. Q.
2 G.A. Res. 41/128, U.N. Doc. A/RES/41/128 (Dec.4, 1986) [hereinafter Declaration]. The
resolution was adopted by a majority of 146 to 1 (United States) with 8 abstentions.
3 Declaration, art. 1(1).
16 Journal of National Law University, Delhi [Vol. 1