1St Nat’l Confab on Right to Development Opens -Speakers proffer Way forward to tackle human sufferings

A two day first regional Conference on the Right to Development being jointly organized by the United Nations Office of the High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Liberia got underway yesterday, Monday, May 30, 2022 at the Golden Gate Hotel, Paynesville, Adjacent to the SKD Sports Complex with speakers calling on governments and stakeholders to make right to development key human rights issue that will promote rapid development and address the human sufferings around the world, especially in Africa.The Office of the High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR) presents its compliments and has the honor to invite you to participate and contribute to the two-day Conference on the Right to Development.

In his opening and welcome address, Dr. Uchenna Emelonye, OHCHR country representative in Liberia said that conference being held in Liberia is an unprecedented one as it is the first of its kind in the ECOWAS sub-region being held to assess progress made in the implementation of the rights to development, articulate challenges and opportunities and provide recommendations to address the challenges. He said the outcome of the conference will help in shaping future engagements on the right to development in Liberia and the West Africa Sub-region

“The right to development is the right of every human being to participate in, contribute to, and benefit from economic, social, cultural, and political development. It is a right that expands the capabilities (freedom to achieve) and choices of the individual

“The conference finally offers the opportunity to discuss developmental issues in a more coherent manner and thus contribute to an enhanced rate of sustainable and inclusive growth, which can contribute to the eradication of poverty”, he said

In a similar vein, Cllr. Dempster Brown, Chairman of the Independent National Commission for Human Rights (INCHR) stated that from the background of his institution, there is a need to make the Right to Development, human rights issue where the citizens especially those in the rural areas are given the opportunities to benefit from the resources in their domain. He said based on their location, they are caretakers of the resources such as the diamonds, gold, forest etc and it is therefore expedient that they get the best from the fruit of ownership to those resources.

In his special remarks, the Chinese Ambassador to Liberia Mr. Ren Yisheng who is one of the co-organizer said development is the eternal theme of human society and the long history of human civilization is the process of continuous pursuit and realization of development by human beings.

He said the Right to Development is a product of the landmark declaration of the UN General Assembly in 1986, which recognizes that the Right to Development is an inalienable human right and that every person and all peoples have the right to participate in, contribute to and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms are fully realized.

“The declaration states that RTD is both an individual right and a collective right, and as a fundamental human right, it applies to all people in all countries , regardless of race, color, sex, language, religion, politics, nationality, origin, property, etc. It can be said that the ideal pursuit of human society is to have equal development opportunities and shared development achievements so that everyone can develop in an all round way and realize the full RTD. Development provides for people’s basic needs and gives them hope of a better life. The RTD symbolizes dignity and honor. We must implement the spirit of the Declaration and vigorously promote the implementation of the RTD globally”, he said.

He said in order to defend the RTD and promote the development and progress of all mankind, China has participated in the previous sessions of the governmental expert group that drafted the Declaration by the UN Commission on Human Rights(UNHCR), and made important contributions to the final adoption of the declaration. He further said that China has been a co-sponsor of the UNCHR’s resolutions on the RTD, and actively supported the Commission’s global consultations on the realization of the RTD.

“Since the establishment of the UN Human Rights Council(UNHRC) in 2006, China has been elected as a member of the UNHRC five times, contributing Chinese wisdom and strength to the mainstreaming of the RTD. China supports the actions of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights(OHCHR) in promoting the RTD around the world. This conference is co-hosted by the Chinese Embassy in Liberia and the UNOHCHR. It is also the first human rights seminar co-hosted by a diplomatic mission of the UN member states in Africa and the UNOHCHR, which is a concrete measure by China to promote the RTD globally”, he said.

In discussing the relationship that exists between China and Africa, Ambassador Yiseng said similar historical encounters and common historical missions have closely linked China and Africa, and China and Africa have always been a community with a shared future.

“Facing the common development needs, both China and Africa advocate the rights to subsistence and development as the primary basic human rights. We attach equal importance to all categories of human rights, respect the right of each country to choose her own development independently, oppose the politicization of human rights and the practice of double standards , and oppose the use of human rights to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries”.

He noted that the Chinese President Xi Jinping when addressing the 8th Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation(FOCAC) held in Dakar, Senegal last November, emphasized that the key for an everlasting spirit of China-Africa friendship and cooperation forged between the two sides lies in sincere friendship and equality, win-win for mutual benefit and common development, fairness and justice and progress with the time and openness and inclusiveness.

Ambassador Yiseng spoke widely of the China – Liberia relationship over the years, lauding Liberia as a country of rich natural resources with a hard working people and being the first independent African country, had actively pioneered and supported the national liberation movement on the African continent and made great contributions to defending the human rights of the African people.

He said against this background, Liberia is expected to continue set an example in defending and  the RTD and asserted that President George Manneh Weah has united and led all walks of life in Liberia to maintain domestic peace and stability, and fully implement the “Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development(PADP).

“In recent years, under the framework of the B &R initiative advocated by President Xi Jinping and the PADP advocated by President George Manneh Weah, China-Liberia cooperation in such areas as health care, infrastructure construction, food security and human resource development has achieved fruitful results. The Agricultural Technology Demonstration Center and the Bamboo and Rattan Weaving and Vegetable Planting Technology Project have graduated several hundreds of trainees each. At present, the two sides are actively implementing such development projects as the capital overpass bridges, clinical diagnosis and treatment laboratory. LBS expansion and upgrade, and Somalia-Sinkor Road and Bridge, and seek to expand cooperation in the fields of agricultural modernization, industrialization development, digital economy, green economy, smart city and telecommunications, electricity, roads, etc .

Vice President Mrs. Jewel Howard –Taylor who spoke through her representative, Cllr. Paul Y. Harris, legal advisor in her office in her special remarks and opening speech, commended the organizers of the conference and hope that the outcome of the event will go a long way in addressing most of the development challenges Africa is faced with.

She paid homage to a former first lady of the United States of America, Eleanor Roosevelt who was the first chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights and played an instrumental role in drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Vice President then threw a challenge to the governments, multinational corporations and international institutions, whom she referred to as “duty bearers” to take development very seriously especially implementing policies and taking initiatives to confront problems facing the common people.

She propounded recommendations to be implemented by the “duty bearers” if the Right to Development will make meaningful impact among them must protect and promote human rights and the rule of law, promote political, economic and social freedom for the citizens and provide the enabling environment for competition in the economy, so that the people will have choices to make decisions on what they want in the marketplace.

The well learnt number 2 person in the country also said that the “duty bearers” should provide quality education and training opportunities that will offer career and skills to citizens for the purpose of job opportunities and other empowerment initiatives and provide security for the protection of lives and properties as well as gender equality and the promotion of affirmative agenda for women to excel to leadership positions.

Other speakers at the opening program include the Head of EU Mission to Liberia, Mr. Laurent Dalahouse said the EU as policy over the years has attached very important attention to human rights and it has defined its engagements with countries the organization has been conducting business with. He noted that there will be no significant progress for development in Africa or any other region of the world if human rights and the rule of law are not respected.

He maintained that the conference should go beyond assessing the progress made since the declaration of the Right to Development and find out core issues that affect the development of people and communities and find lasting solutions to the problems. He pledged the usual support for the EU towards the development agenda of Liberia.

The conference is expected to end today, Tuesday, May 31, 2022.

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