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The Fifth Session of the EMRTD
Statement by Mr. Koen De Feyter Chair of the Expert Mechanism on the Right to Development

9 March 2022, New York

Assistant Secretary-General,
Fellow experts,
Colleagues and friends,


When we were preparing for this session, we did not imagine the context in which we will be holding our discussions. The Secretary General could not have been righter when, at the time of presenting his priorities for 2022, he identified “peace and security” as one of five crises the world is facing. Or when, at the opening of the forty-ninth session of the Human Rights Council, he reminded that “[W]e need rights-based solutions and inclusive, sustainable development, rooted in rights and opportunities for all.”

Even before the current events in Ukraine unfolded, we had set an ambitious and thematically rich programme, that sought to intertwine the different aspects of the right to development that make it most relevant and worthy at the national and international levels, at present and for generations to come. We planned for substantive discussions on issues such as the right to development and peace and security; the right to development in the pandemic era, and on the duty to cooperate, including on the legal status of international solidarity and of unilateral coercive measures.

Distinguished delegates,

The right to development integrates aspects of both human rights and development theory and practice, demanding the active, free and meaningful participation of everyone. It involves national and international dimensions of State responsibilities, and it promotes friendly relations between States, international solidarity, cooperation, and assistance.

For this fifth session, within the Expert Mechanism, we decided to hold the discussions in a fully open, frank, and transparent manner. We did not attempt to reach a common position yet within the Mechanism on many of the issues we are raising during the sessions ahead. We hope that the individual expertise and views that each of the members of the Expert Mechanism brings to the table will add value and enrich the discussions. And we seek to listen and learn from your contributions: we greatly value the opportunity to engage in an interactive dialogue with governmental and non-governmental actors alike.

In implementing the mandate afforded to us by the Human Rights Council, we have also invited different special procedures’ mandate holders who will contribute with their own expertise and experience to the discussions. The spirit is to foster coordination among United Nations independent experts and to undertake focused thematic discussions bringing in expert knowledge that can complement our own.

The five-member Expert Mechanism will be represented at this session by four members only. Our colleague Armando De Negri Filho has undertaken new professional commitments which were not compatible with acting as an individual expert within the Mechanism. He presented his resignation to this position earlier this year. On behalf of my fellow members, I would like to heartily thank Armando for his work and commitment and wish him all success in his future endeavours.

Armando’s resignation is certainly a loss for us, but we look forward to his continuous support and engagement as academic friend of the Expert Mechanism. The call for applications to appoint a new member from the Latin American and the Caribbean region is now open until 6 April 2022. We look forward to the Human Rights Council identifying a strong candidate who will enhance our work with the perspective of that region.


The Expert Mechanism is motivated to liaise and increase cooperation with the Permanent and Observer Missions to the United Nations in New York, and with civil society organizations and United Nations entities based in this city. We believe the right to development framework has much to contribute to the development-oriented discussions that are held in New York.
We are also very pleased to welcome in this fifth session the different representatives, colleagues and friends, based in Geneva and elsewhere who, thanks to the advantages of virtual modalities, have also registered and will participate in our conversations.

Last year, the Expert Mechanism engaged for the first time in discussions with New York-based constituencies at the Third Committee of the General Assembly. We look forward to enhancing our engagement through increasing participation at our annual sessions in New York and through additional avenues of cooperation.

Be this fifth session a step forward in such direction.

Thank you.