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The SDG Temple of Justice 

The Eighth Pillar:

Right to Development

The eight pillars of legal empowerment

of the SDG Temple of Justice

The blueprint presented here seeks to help realize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by leveraging the human rights foundation of SDGs through the eight pillars of rights relating to legal empowerment of the people including the poor and vulnerable groups.

Why the right to development matters for the SDGs?

By adopting the 2030 Agenda, UN Member States have committed themselves to achieving sustainable development in its three dimensions – economic, social and environmental – in a balanced and integrated manner. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is grounded in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, international human rights treaties, the Millennium Declaration and the 2005 World Summit Outcome. It is informed by other instruments such as the Declaration on the Right to Development (paragraph 10).


Further the 2030 Agenda recognizes the need to build peaceful, just and inclusive societies that provide equal access to justice and that are based on respect for human rights (including the right to development), on effective rule of law and good governance at all levels and on transparent, effective and accountable institutions.

The right to development was first recognized in 1981 in Article 22 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights as a definitive individual and collective right. Article 22(1) provides that: "All peoples shall have the right to their economic, social and cultural development with due regard to their freedom and identity and in the equal enjoyment of the common heritage of mankind."

The right to development was subsequently proclaimed by the United Nations in 1986 in the "Declaration on the Right to Development" which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 41/128. This Declaration is not in itself legally binding. However, many of its provisions are anchored in legally binding instruments, such as the Charter of the United Nations and the International Covenants on Human Rights, and principles like non-discrimination and State sovereignty are also part of customary international law, which is binding on all States.

Salient provisions of the Declaration include:

Article 6.3:   States should take steps to eliminate obstacles to development resulting from failure to observe civil and political rights, as well as economic, social and cultural rights.

Article 9.1:   All the aspects of the right to development set forth in the present Declaration are indivisible and interdependent and each of them should be considered in the context of the whole.

Article 10: Steps should be taken to ensure the full exercise and progressive enhancement of the right to development, including the formulation, adoption and implementation of policy, legislative and other measures at the national and international levels.

The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (1992)

By adopting the 2030 Agenda, Member States reaffirm the outcomes of all major United Nations conferences including the Conference on Environment and Development (Rio de Janeiro, 3 to 14 June 1992) of which the outcome document, the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development states that "the right to development must be fulfilled so as to equitably meet developmental and environmental needs of present and future generations" (Principle 3).

Principle 4 of the Declaration states that "In order to achieve sustainable development, environmental protection shall constitute an integral part of the development process and cannot be considered in isolation from it".

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