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Statement of Iceland on development and human rights

Þorvarður Atli Þórsson delivered today a statement during the 39th session of the Human Rights Council on the importance of including human rights in the discussion on development and the positive interplay between development and human rights. Iceland emphasized the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and that focus on inequality was important in that regard.

39th session of the Human Rights Council

Item 3

The right to development

13 September 2018

Delivered by Iceland


Mr. President,

We are pleased to engage here today with the Special Rapporteur on the right to development.

One of the major advances of the Sustainable Development Goals compared with the Millennium Development Goals is that they apply to developing and developed countries alike.  

We believe that another key component of Agenda 2030, which the MDGs neglected, is that it explicitly acknowledges that human rights are essential components of sustainable development, and vice versa. The premise of the Goals to leave no one behind can help to promote inclusive development policies, as well as to serve as a foundation for human rights promotion in development.

We believe this is particularly important in our discussion on the right to development, as well as on the link between development and human rights. It is also founded on our commitment in the Vienna Declaration where we reaffirmed that democracy, development and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms are interdependent and mutually reinforcing.

Mr. President,

We are particularly pleased with the focus of the report of the rapporteur on inequality as it is an element of Agenda 2030 that could benefit from increased attention and it can affect not only enjoyment of economic and social rights, but also infringe on civil and political rights.

We particularly would like to thank the Rapporteur for highlighting gender inequality in this context and for featuring the positive steps Iceland has taken to outlaw unequal pay. We agree with the Rapporteur that ensuring that no one is left behind requires a dedicated focus on the equal rights of women and men and on ensuring women’s participation in decision-making.

We would therefore like to ask the Special Rapporteur, how can the lens of Agenda 2030 and the right to development continue to support and build a foundation for the mutually reinforcing link between development and human rights?


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