Is Development a Lost Paradise? Trade, Environment, and Development: A Triadic Dream of International Law


  • Upendra D. Acharya



After providing a brief background on international law, the history of the right to development is discussed. International law, as it exists today, has been abused by developed nations in their position of power over underdeveloped nations. The right to development, first formalized by the United Nations in 1986 with the Declaration on the Right to Development, was meant to give people of the developing world a right to development. However, the right to development has been supplanted by the concept of sustainable development, as orchestrated by the developed nations. It was hopeful that organizations like the World Trade Organization would implement the right to development through trade; however, these organizations have become merely a tool for the developed nations and associated corporations to continue their dominance over developing nations. Environmental concerns in recent times have shifted the international focus from the right to development to sustainable development, and the right to development has been overlooked. A legal right to development must be recognized before sustainable development can be applied as a tool to benefit underdeveloped nations through environmental and trade-related policy.