The Asian Development Bank and the Role of Human Rights in the Pursuit of Just and Sustainable Development in the Asia Pacific Region
October 14,2014   By:CSHRS

Andrew Byrnes

In December 2006 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) , which represents a major breakthrough on the international level in the promotion and protection of the rights of persons with disabilities. The Convention reaffirms the standard canon of human rights, and formulates them in often innovative ways to reflect the experiences and violations of human rights that persons with disabilities often face.  Among the innovations in the CRPD is Article 32, a provision which for the first time in a United Nations human rights treaty explicitly addresses the obligations of States parties in the field of international cooperation in the field of development cooperation . Article 32 requires States parties, among other things to ensure that "international cooperation, including international development programmes, is inclusive of and accessible to persons with disabilities". 

While the CRPD highlights explicitly the obligations of States parties in the field of development co-operation for the first time, the question of the extent to which States parties' obligations under treaties apply to such activities (or, more generally, apply extraterritorially) has been of interest for some time , as has the consistency of human rights frameworks with different approaches to development and their utility in helping to achieve other development goals. 

This paper takes up these questions in the context of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and considers the extent to which that institution explicitly takes into account international human rights norms in its policies and procedures, the relevance of the international human rights obligations of its members to ADB activities in general and to bilateral relations, and the potential contribution that using a human rights framework might make to achieving the development goals of the ADB, with a particular focus on the areas of gender and disability.