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Hazard or Right? The Dialectics of Development Practice and the Internationally Declared Right to Development, with Special Reference to Indonesia

By I. Hadiprayitno


Development has the general connotation of a structural improvement of people’s well being. In practice, however, it often affects the entitlement positions of those who have to sustain their daily livelihoods in a negative way. This happens particularly when decisions on development are taken by governments without any prior consultation, let alone participation of stakeholders. As a result they are likely to exert detrimental effects on people. Hence, instead of being the beneficiaries, people at the grassroots actually become victims. It is in such contexts that we have considered development as being a hazard. Here, the right to development might offer a possible protection. This right grants holders the entitlements to a ‘fair distribution of benefits’ and to ‘participation’. The entitlement to a fair distribution of benefits would seem to imply that a violation occurs when development does not deliver benefits for those affected or, perversely, harms the right-holders. The entitlement to participation entails that the process of development requires the involvement of the stakeholders. The United Nations General Assembly Declaration on the Right to Development proposes two distinct options: firstly, by stipulating a participatory environment process that is stimulated by the state, and secondly, by asserting actions from below, emphasizing a participatory activity that is, first and foremost, at the initiative of the right-holders themselves. The study has the effect of highlighting a lack of substantial people’s protection in development. To answer to this concern, the assumptions that the official and international consensus on the discourse of protection in development would lead to the proliferation and implementation at the grass-root level must be abandoned. Sound analyses should not start by excluding the need for a conception and harmonization of relevant values and practices at the national and local levels with the international discourse. In this study, we have argued that the lack of enforceability occurs particularly when one forces a positivist form of implementation upon the right to development, while hazards occur especially when development is executed from a determinist perspective. In the case of Indonesia, this appears in a phenomenon that the official endorsement of the right to development may imply not just a first step towards implementation but rather towards obstruction. In this concern, the finding of the study emphasizes that in order for the right to development to actually operate as a legal resource as well as a political instrument against hazards, all development actors should seek to be effective before aspiring to be successful and comprehensive in their efforts. In the ensuing processes of operationalization, painful political and economic compromises will have to be made against macro-development priorities and vested interests in order to ensure protection of the intended beneficiaries, in this study regarded as right-holders. Only in that respect that we can move from moral ends of development to a genuine right to development. While opening a new dialogue about using the right to development to combat development hazards, this book reveals the complex interface between human rights and development as actually practiced

Publisher: Intersentia
Year: 2009
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