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LIAO Yuhan: On Empowerment-Oriented Global Development Cooperation

2023-07-27 10:15·Forum on Global Human Rights Governance
by LIAO Yuhan

On Empowerment-Oriented Global Development Cooperation

In 1986, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Right to Development, affirming in the international human rights law system that, the right to development is an inalienable human right, and all countries have the responsibility to jointly create a balanced and just international economic order, so that every country and the individuals in it can equally and freely enjoy the fruits and opportunities of the human society development. The Declaration on the Right to Development is a milestone in promoting common actions for global development. It makes a comprehensive explanation of the root cause for "underdeveloped" international structure from a historical, global and systematic perspective, and recognizes the "promoting development" as an international human rights obligation. It requires States to take positive actions to promote assistance and cooperation in the field of development, change the existing unequal and exploitative international economic and political relations inherited from the colonial era, promote and accelerate the economic development and social progress in developing countries, and enhance the universal well-being and dignity of the people.

In recent years, there has been a remarkable shift in the global development system: First, developing countries play an increasingly prominent and active role in the global development agenda and rule-making. Secondly, global actions to promote development are becoming more diversified and flexible, and new forms of development such as South-South cooperation, tripartite cooperation and regional overall planning are emerging. Thirdly, development cooperation based on the principle of equality and mutual benefit has become an important driving force for global development. To sum up, the global development system is taking on a new path - empowerment. The empowerment-oriented global development cooperation is initiated and promoted by developing countries, advocating an all-round development process. As members of the community with a shared future for mankind, States need to, for the purpose of mutual benefits from sustainable development of mankind and mutual respect for universal humanity, create conditions to stimulate internal development momentum for relatively underdeveloped countries on the one hand, and work together to remove the obstacles to development at the international level on the other hand, so as to create an environment and condition where development is possible. The "empowering" model complements the Declaration on the Right to Development on how to achieve development and what are the "national and international conditions conducive to the realization of the right to development", and creates value and theoretical approaches for a balanced transformation of the global development order.

I. Justified Basis of "Empowerment": Basic Principles of International Law

Global development cooperation shall be in compliance with the basic principles set out in the UN Charter and the Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in Accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, including the "negative principles based on equality and self-determination" and the "positive principles based on security and well-being".

The "negative principle based on equality and self-determination" emphasizes that every sovereign state has rights and obligations equal to those of any other sovereign state under international law, and that all peoples have the right to freely determine their political status and pursue their economic, social and cultural development without outside interference. The empowerment-oriented global development cooperation will not impose any externally preset development reform agenda on participating countries, but upholds that there is no established, universal and superior development model in the world, and each country needs to explore and trial specific diversified development paths based on its own advantages of resource endowment and its stage and environment in the global economic system. In this process, the role of the international community is to create conditions and remove obstacles for each other to achieve development, and to create an international economic and political environment from which all countries and their peoples will benefit adequately and equally. The creation of conditions and environment emphasized by "empowerment" is intended to broaden the choice and feasibility of countries to freely decide and practice their own development programs.

"The positive principles based on security and well-being" stresses that, for purpose of maintaining international peace and security and promoting international progress and the well-being of all countries, States in the world, regardless of their differences in political, economic and social systems, have an obligation to cooperate with each other in all aspects of international relations, including in the economic, social, cultural, scientific and technological fields, and in promoting economic growth around the globe, especially in developing countries. International cooperation is one of the purposes of the Charter of the United Nations, and followed exactly by global development cooperation itself, where all participants, based on the pursuit of common interests and universal well-being, transfer or share development resources among themselves, so as to promote the overall economic and social development around the world and the progress of human rights protection. The purpose of joint action based on common interests to promote mutual benefit and win-win results runs through the entire framework and course of South-South development cooperation, from the "Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence" established at the Bandung Conference, the developing countries of the G77 promoting and strengthening solidarity based on common interests and goals so as to expand economic cooperation in the international sphere and establish mutually beneficial South-South and North-South relations, to the emphasis on solidarity and mutual benefit at the 2010 United Nations High-Level Conference on South-South Cooperation in Nairobi, constituting one of the guidelines of empowerment-oriented global development cooperation.

II. Start Point of Empowerment: Ethical Equality

The empowerment-oriented joint actions among countries begins with equal relations between sovereign states. After the establishment of the United Nations system, there is no dispute about sovereign equality among countries. However, in specific international economic and political activities, due to different economic, political, military, discourse resources and political purposes, there are still widespread unequal relations between countries controlling and controlled, dominating and dominated, interfering and interfered.

Therefore, the start point of empowerment is to criticize and reflect on the utilitarian and topdown traditional development concepts, emphasize the introduction and implementation of the principle of "ethical equality" among countries in the field of international development on the basis of resolutely safeguarding the "sovereign equality" among all countries, and change the dilemma of developing countries marginalized, and transform the unequal relations between countries developed by use of resources and discourse power. The "equality" embodied in the empowerment-oriented international development assistance includes the following: From the perspective of "sovereign equality", on the basis of the basic principles among states stated in the Charter of the United Nations, respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States as well as political self-determination; From the perspective of ethical equality, respect for the autonomy of countries in the choice of social system and development path, dominant right given to countries in development cooperation, and respect for the cultural diversity of countries and the right of national self-determination.

III. Approach to Empowerment: International Solidarity

The establishment of solidarity relations among countries based on universal interests and respect for commonalities is how empowerment is realized. "International solidarity" should contain at least two dimensions: utilitarianism and idealism. The former is based on the recognition and pursuit of "common interests" between countries, while the latter is on the basis of the moral obligations that countries should undertake in view of mutual respect for "humanity" and acting as members of human society.

"Empowerment" advocates cooperation between countries based on common interests and universal ideals on the basis of ethic of solidarity. With the deepening of the globalization process, the core interests of countries get interdependent, and deprivation or deficiency of them at any party may cause harm to others, so only by mutual cooperation can actual and sustainable development be achieved. Furthermore, countries and people all over the world have a common pursuit of values such as security, development, peace, democracy and freedom, and these pursuit of universal human values constitutes the basis of "solidarity" among countries around the globe. "Empowerment" is based on the mutual responsibility and moral obligation to promote each other among the countries in the world, and for the fundamental purpose of creating a bright future where everyone is free from poverty, acquires development and enjoy dignity , as well as in the pursuit of universal humanity.

IV. End of Empowerment: Global Justice

The dis-empowerment of specific groups of people caused by unequal relations between countries is the root cause for "global injustice". Therefore, "global justice" should be directed to a just and reasonable global order that enables each individual within it to adequately possess the core capabilities that are sufficient to make him or her lead a good life with dignity. In an era when globalization reaches into every corner of the world, a disaster in any "marginal" country may turn into a crisis that engulfs the globe. At present, the potential for such a crisis lies more in the least developed countries in the world. Thoroughly eradicating the "unjust" global order inherited from history and continuously strengthened in the post-colonial era and making the least developed countries and their people fully enjoy the material wealth brought by global development, is not only observance of the universal human ethic of "justice", but also an active action to eliminate the risks in globalization. In order to realize the "global justice", besides institutional correction to the existing "unjust" international economic and political order, it is more important to gather the strength of the world to promote the development of marginal countries and change the lack and deprivation of human rights caused by the "unjust" global order.

In conclusion, the empowerment-oriented global development cooperation follows the basic principles of international law, takes equal subjectivity among countries as a start point, and emphasizes that the right to self-determination of any country, in its own development affairs regardless of its strength, should not be externally interfered in or overridden. In addition, with a view of the interdependence of interests and respect for equal subject, States have an obligation to build solidarity among themselves and to work together to remove obstacles to development and to give all countries and their peoples the opportunity to get rid of suffering and deficiency. The ultimate goal of empowerment is to establish a just global order, so that every group and individual in the international community will fully enjoy the fruits of human civilization development, and the right to development of every country and its people will be fully implemented.

(The author is doctoral student at the Institute of Human Rights at Southwest University of Political Science and Law)