RIGHTS AND DEVELOPMENT IN UGANDA: REFLECTIONS ON THE CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS OF
THE RIGHT TO DEVELOPMENT
Human rights in Uganda have had a limited recognition since pre-colonial
times. Uganda’s human rights
record has been characterised more by violations than protection and promotion.
The quest for respect of human rights in our society must, therefore,
have as its starting point the historical experiences of dehumanisation and
devaluation of Ugandans.
turning point in the struggle for respect for human rights and the promotion of
human development in Uganda was marked by the promulgation of a new constitution
for the republic in 1995. The
adoption and enactment of this constitution is the result of the growing need to
protect and promote human rights by promoting a culture of constitutionalism and
rule of law. Thus, the 1995
constitution has given a recognizable place for human rights and freedoms. In fact, some commentators have even remarked that the new
Ugandan Constitution should be seen as a “human rights charter”[i]
where human rights serve as the basis for all the provision of the Constitution.
it is true that the 1995 Constitution made remarkable achievements in the
recognition and protection of some human rights, as seen in chapter four, it did
not go very far. Many
constitutional analysts have already alluded to this reality.
For instance, Oloka-Onyango has observed the fact that many rights,
including social, economic and development rights, have been confined to that
part of the constitution which has no legal force:
majority of the rights of this character [referring to economic and social
rights] are confined to the section of the constitution, which is not amenable
to legal enforcement: the National Objectives and Directive Principles of State
Policy. The Language used in
describing state commitment to the realization of these ideals is clear: “The
following objectives and principles shall guide (rather than “bind”) organs
and agencies of the state…” at best imposing a moral obligation, but
providing no mechanisms for enforcement. It
is in this section of the Constitution that questions such as development, . . .
education, health, water, food security and nutrition are covered.[ii]
is not clear why these rights were moved to this part of the constitution
because they formed an important part of chapter III of the Draft Constitution.
Perhaps one of the reasons could have been that “The Report of the
Constitutional Commission” referred to these rights as “generally not
enforceable by legal means as they state general principles rather than
What this means is that the state cannot be held legally responsible for any
limited achievement of these rights, but could be held morally accountable.
Despite this structural and enforcement limitation, the 1995 Ugandan
Constitution recognizes the right to development, stresses the role of people
and the state in the development of Uganda, and brings to the fore the need for
balanced and equitable development.
paper, therefore, attempts to reflect on the reality of the right to development
as provided in the Ugandan 1995 Constitution against the background of the
principles and dimensions of the United Nations Declaration on the Right to
Development and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (article,
22). But first, let us look briefly
at human rights and development in general.
idea of rights in general and human rights in particular is not new to most
people. The language of human
rights is predominant in our contemporary world.
It cuts across all aspects of the human person: social, political,
economic, and cultural. Human
rights have occupied a central place in our lives because they have functioned
and continue to function to protect and promote the dignity and value of human
there has been no agreement about to what rights and human rights are because of
differences in how people conceive them, the Oxford English Dictionary defines
rights as justifiable claims, on legal or moral grounds, to have or obtain
something, or to act in a certain way. Human
rights, therefore, have been defined as the rights that everyone has equally, by
virtue of their humanity;[iv] they rightfully belong to
all humans by the virtue of being human. They
are a crucial part of the human being because they are inherent as the basic
components of a true human way of living. Human
rights have been defined also as “generally accepted principle of fairness and
concept of human rights has been analyzed extensively in moral, legal, and
political theories. Human rights in
one conceptual analysis are intrinsic human values inherent in the human person,
due to all persons on the basis of their human dignity. These rights and
freedoms are said to be fundamental and include the security of the persons the
right not to be deprived of life and liberty without due process of law; the
right not to be tortured or subjected to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment
or punishment; and the right not to be held in slavery or servitude. Their fundamental function and importance, therefore, is the
protection and promotion of the intrinsic value inherent in human nature.
Every state has an obligation to guarantee them, and every individual has
a right to claim and enjoy them because they give meaning to the human dignity.
Human rights are not absolute, however, but the possibility of their limitation
is limited to the common good.
concept of human rights in Africa is one of struggle against all forms of
domination, exploitation, oppression and abuse. It is this sort of conception
that Shivji Issa alluded to in his book: “The
Concept of Human Rights in Africa.”
For him, human rights must be rooted in the perspective of class struggle
and must be claimed and enjoyed collectively.[v]
This conception of human rights is also clearly reflected in the African Charter
on human and peoples’ rights. In
its preamble, the Charter affirms the duty of everyone “to achieve the total
liberation of Africa, the people of which are still struggling for their dignity
and genuine independence.”
concept of human rights in Africa is not limited to individual human rights. Human rights in Africa include peoples’ rights enjoyed
collectively or communally by a people or peoples. The right to development is one such rights that can be
claimed and enjoyed collectively.
The disagreement in the
conception of human rights as seen above is one of the great aspects of, and
challenges to, the process of globalization.
The dominant human rights discourse of the West has often been accused of
being too restricted to individual rights of a civil and political nature, while
ignoring the collective/communal rights (including social, economic and cultural
rights) advocated mostly by the developing nations.
This disagreement as led to the categorization of human rights into
first, second and third generations.
Attempts to harmonize such
conceptual disagreements by the international community can be seen in the
adoption of the Declaration on the Right to Development.
The right to development is thus
defined by this declaration as “an
inalienable human right by virtue of which every human person and all peoples
are entitled to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social,
cultural and political development, in which all human rights and fundamental
freedoms can be fully realized” (Art.
1.1). From such a definition there
follows the holistic approach to human rights conceptualization emphasized by
the experience “every human person” and “all peoples.”
concept of development is sometimes as complex to define as that of human
rights; development as a concept is sometimes difficult to understand.
Many countries and many different writers have referred to development in
various ways. Although development
has been characterized as economic growth, its definition cannot be complete
without reference to the human person. Development is a multidimensional process
that includes the social, economic, cultural and political dimensions of human
is a positive word that is almost synonymous with ‘progress.’ Although it
may entail disruption of established patterns of living, over the long-term it
implies increased living standards, improved health and well-being for all, and
the achievement of whatever is regarded as a general good for society at large.[vi]
The United Nations Declaration
on the Right to Development, 1986, in fact, makes a complete resume of all these
new approaches to development. One
of the real forces of this declaration is its novel realisation that the human
person should be at the center of development.
This has been the key to the innovation and revision of many other trends
to development since the Industrial Revolution in Britain.
The new revolution in development is solely encompassed in the fact that
development can be achieved only with the human person as the central subject
active participant and beneficiary of the right to development.
Development is thus defined by the Declaration as:
comprehensive economic, social, cultural and political process, which aims at
the constant improvement of the well-being of the entire population and of all
individuals on the basis of their active, free and meaningful participation in
development and in the fair distribution of benefits resulting therefrom.[vii]
definition of development not only underscores the central place of the human
person in any development process, but also stresses the holistic or integral
approach to development and makes clear the link between human rights and
without doubt is the achievement of human rights by an individual, community,
and state: without respect for human rights, there can be no development.
There is, in fact, an interrelationship between human rights and
development, which intertwines these two concepts.
human rights are respected, development occurs.
Where the opposition is the reality, underdevelopment and backwardness
are the usual results. Human beings perform best and exert their full potential
for development where they are secure in the enjoyment of their rights.
The security of life, property and the guarantee of opportunities to
raise the standards of living without discrimination or victimisation are at the
core of people’s motivation for development.[viii]
DEVELOPMENT: THE CONSTITUTION AND THE PEOPLE
has become an area of so great concern and commitment as development. As the world continues to get more and more connected and as
the reality of the present phenomenon of globalization preoccupies the mind of
the world, issues of development have come to the fore. One reason why this has become an issue of interest is the
“development” of Europe and America, and in such countries of Asia as Japan,
without correspondence to the condition of the poor developing nations
characterized by mass poverty, illiteracy, diseases, malnutrition and high death
the awakening of the world consciousness to social issues and justice,
especially to the issue of international economic order (or is it disorder?),
the United Nations (UN) and the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) have
addressed the issue of development by declaring development a right and
responsibility. The right to development has been considered a specifically
African contribution to the international human rights discourse.
It is often attributed to the Senegalese Jurist, Keba M’baye[ix] who first propounded this
right in 1972. The legitimacy of
the right to development, according to Kaba M’baye, relates to political and
economic considerations, is founded on moral grounds and accords with legal
right to development does not appear in most international human rights
treaties, but is formally recognize in the African Charter on Human and Peoples
Rights. Article 22 of this charter
peoples shall have the right to their economic, social and cultural development
with due regard to their freedom and identity and in the equal enjoyment of the
common heritage of mankind.
shall have the duty, individually or collectively, to ensure the exercise of the
right to development.
withstanding its limited recognition in international human rights treaties, the
notion of the right to development as a human right found its way to the UN
system when its General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Right to
Development on 4 December 1986. Like
any other declaration, the Declaration on the Right to Development has since
then provided important guidelines and directives on development and has
inspired the writings of many national constitutions and continental
proclamations. The African Charter
for Popular Participation in Development and Transformation that was written in
Arusha, 12-16 February, 1990, is a good example of the serious commitment to
sustainable development in the African nations.
government of Uganda recognizes the right to development of the state as a whole
and of all its peoples. It provides
for this right in the new constitution of 1995.
Here, the right to development finds its expression among the National
Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy as objective number nine.
the following provision, the state commits itself to the involvement of all its
people in the process of development. It
state shall take all necessary steps to involve the people in the formulation
and implementation of development plans and programmes which affect them.
11th objective describes the role of the state in development, by which the
state commits itself to the enactment of legislation to establish measures that
protect and enhance the right of the people to equal opportunities in
development. In recognition of the
historical imbalances in development, the state commits itself to taking
“necessary measures to bring about balanced development of the different areas
of Uganda and between the rural and urban areas.”
by the vision and principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Right to
Development and the constitutional provisions, Uganda has embarked on a number
of development programs such as decentralization, liberalization of the economy,
primary health care, universal primary education, poverty eradication and rural
development, regional integration, etc. The question that we are bound to ask here is: Have the
constitutional provisions and development programs found real reflection in the
life of the ordinary Ugandans? This
question certainly requires much careful thought. In what follows, we shall
attempt to discuss the basic principles and dimensions of the right to
development in the light of the Ugandan reality. Some of the basic principles, dimensions and issues of
development on which we would like to focus in this discussion include the
the most basic issue underlying the right to development is the principle of
human-centered development. Recognizing the central place of the human person in
the development process, the United Nations Declaration on the Right to
Development provides in article 2.1 that “the human person is the central
subject of development and should be the active participant and beneficiary of
the right to development.”
fact that the human person is the central subject in development has been so
much stressed in other circles where people acknowledge and appraise the value
of the human being. In Catholic
social teaching, this fact has been emphasized in the encyclical Populorum Progressio where Pope Paul the VI insisted that:
cannot be limited to mere economic growth.
In order to be authentic, it must be complete, integral, that is, it must
promote the good of every man and of the whole man. . . . We do not believe in
separating the economic from the human . . . what we hold important is man, each
man and each group of men, and we even include the whole of humanity.[xi]
in this vision, is the recognition of personal potential, capability,
skillfulness in “self-fulfillment.” The African Charter for Popular
Participation in Development affirmed the significance of the human-centered
development approach when it stated:
therefore, have no doubts that at the heart of Africa’s development objectives
must lie the ultimate and overriding goal of human-centered development that
ensures the overall well-being of the people through sustained improvement in
their living-standards and the full and effective participation of the people in
charting their development policies, programmes and process and contributing to
their realization. We further more
observe that given the current worlds political and economic situation, Africa
is becoming more marginalised in world affairs, both geo-politically and
economically. African countries
must realize that, more than ever before, their greatest resource is their
people and it is through their active and full participation that African can
surmount the difficulties that lie ahead.[xii]
approach to development is a recognition not only of the value and dignity of
the human person, but also of the need to address the issue of basic human needs
for the sustenance of human life. Food,
shelter, health and education are some of these basic human needs for the
preservation of life and its growth and development.
development in terms of access to basic health services, education, and food is
more satisfactory than most other yardsticks. Such social indicators as life
expectancy reflect more accurately the conditions of most of the population than
per capita income because of a much broader distribution across households.[xiii]
provision of basic needs is an essential investment in people as a way toward
human-centered development. “People
are both the ends and means of development.
Although improved health, nutrition, and education are ends in
themselves, healthy and educated human beings are also the principal means for
In Uganda, the provision of primary health care is assuming increased importance
for the development of healthy human resources throughout the country. Thus
despite the prevailing AIDS epidemic which is a major problem, not only in terms
of physical health, but also its cost to the economic, social and the moral life
of Ugandans. Despite this scourge,
reduction in the expenditures in the health sector and the introduction of cost
sharing means that development will be greatly affected.
Therefore, provision of sustainable health care services that are cheap,
affordable and accessible to all people is an important aspect of human-centered
link, however, between education, health and development is one of cause-effect
relationship. Healthier children
are more likely to attend school and to learn, and therefore to develop than the
sick or malnourished. Education, in turn, enables people to understand health
problems and to act in their prevention and cure.
Indeed education as a basic human need has an important part in the
development of Africa’s human resources.
has embarked on Universal Primary Education (UPE) in an effort to effect
people-centered development. Although
this programme has had a number of setbacks such as inadequate classroom
facilities, the limited number of trained teachers, inadequate resources, and
limited coverage of the whole population of the school age children due to the
above constraints, it is nevertheless essential for developing the abilities and
the skills of the people for the future development. For this the secondary and
tertiary levels also must receive the attention they deserve.
The importance of having a more comprehensive state supported programme
of education has been stressed:
approach must not only attempt to ensure that as many people as possible are
able to attain minimal literacy and numeracy, but that specialized educational
levels are also attained. Otherwise,
not only will it be impossible to resist to the imperatives of globalization,
but the people of Uganda will be condemned to a marginal existence on the
fringes of important cultural, technological, and economic developments.[xv]
is yet another important concept underlying the right to development.
There can be no development without participation.
Popular participation gives the majority of the people the right to
development through which they can provide shelter, education and health care
for themselves. For instance, a
child develops its abilities when it begins to put the breast of its mother in
its mouth for feeding. When it
begins to bath alone, there is progress towards personal hygiene without which
there is total dependency on the mother for food and health care.
Here, development is the attainment of food and health through personal
involvement which is participation; this right is fulfilled through
importance of participation has been emphasised at different levels of the
international community. The United
Nations has already stressed the need to involve people in their own affairs.
In its agenda for development, the UN noted in particular that:
is an essential component of successful and lasting development. It contributes to equity by involving people living in
poverty and other groups in planning and implementation. Participatory decision-making, together with democracy, and
transparent and accountable governance and administration in all sectors of
society is an important requirement for the effectiveness of development
policies. . . . The key to participatory development means fulfilling the
potentials of people by enlarging their capabilities, and this necessarily
implies empowerment of people, enabling them to participate actively in their
the right to development is fulfilled through popular participation as echoed in
the Arusha Declaration:
our view, popular participation is both a means and an end.
As an instrument of development, popular participation provides the
driving force for collective commitment for the determination of people-based
development processes and willingness by the people to undertake sacrifices and
expand their social energies for its execution.
As an end in itself, popular participation is the fundamental right of
the people to fully participate effectively in the determination of the decision
which affect their lives at all levels and at all times.[xvii]
Organization of African Unity (O.A.U) is determined to promote and protect human
and peoples’ rights especially the right of people to freely participate, by
its affirmation in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights that:
“Every citizen has the right to participate freely in the government of his or
her country, either directly or through freely chosen representatives in
accordance with the provision of the law (Article 13.1).” Here every African
country is supposed to enact relevant laws in this respect.
Member states of the O. A. U are bound to affirm the right to development
and encourage the right to participation in their different countries. Popular participation, however, depends on the nature of the
state and the ability of government to respond to popular demands.
This is possible where the government allows the people freedom in
constitution of the Republic of Uganda 1995 guarantees every Ugandan the right
to participate in the development process of Uganda.
However, the same constitution limits this right in case of activities
which may threaten the peace in Uganda (Article 38). The Ugandan constitution also recognizes the need to protect
the rights of the minority to participate in decision-making processes that
their views and interests are taken into account in making national plans and
programmes (Article 36). This is a
good gesture in response to the requirements of the right to development, which
is to encourage popular participation in all spheres as an important factor in
development and in the full realization of all human rights.
While it is true that the Uganda government has, since the enactment of
the 1995 Constitution, encouraged different groups of the population: women,
youth, workers, elders, the army, etc., to participate actively in the affairs
of this country, it has remained reluctant to allow broad based political
participation. Article 269 of the
constitution, for instance, regulates political organisations by limiting their
active participation in the political governance of the country contrary to the
other provisions of the same constitution.
This in reality means that people must not organize and mobilize
themselves under different political organizations. The lesson here for Ugandans
is that for meaningful development to take place, popular and democratic
participation must be the guiding principle.
a country like Uganda, popular participation of the people requires democracy.
Democratic involvement of people in charting their development goals and
in the implementation and evaluation of these development programmes is at the
core of people’s own development. This
can be achieved through respect for the right to participation and
self-determination of peoples.
experience of many African nations, however, shows a great diversity despite the
call by the majority of the people for democracy.
Africa has suffered hunger, lack of shelter, lack of education
opportunities, and poor health due to policies dictated from the center of
political power. This reality was
adequately observed by the participants in the Arusha Conference for Popular
Participation in Development and Transformation. The participants observed that:
crisis currently engulfing Africa, is not only an economic crisis but also a
human legal, political and social crisis . . . ., the political context of
socio-economic development has been characterized, in many instances, by an
over-centralization of power and impediments to the effective participation of
the overwhelming majority of the people in social, political and economic
concern of the conference is, certainly, decentralization of power and the
empowerment of the local people to take charge of their development process.
the Uganda government’s reform programs, the program of decentralization is a
real effort to enable the people from all the different levels of society to
exercise democratic participation and to take full responsibility for their own
decentralization policy was designed to:
. . increase the powers of democratic local authorities, it is expected to have
a major impact on the civil service functions in the future. With the responsibility for providing many public services
delivery and increased transparency are expected.[xix]
is meant to promote capacity building at the local levels, and to introduce
local choice into the delivery of civil services, fostering a sense of local
ownership and responsibility. This,
indeed, is a great step by the government to full participation and sharing of
the benefits of development at the national level.
Again, in the local governments act, 1997, the logistics of
decentralization was worked out and the aim of governments undertakings was
spelled out in this document “to ensure good governance and democratic
participation in, and control of
decision-making by the people.”[xx]
Whatever the real aim (stated or unstated) of decentralization was at its
conception, “the best outcome of decentralization for Ugandans can only be
their political, economic, and managerial empowerment.”[xxi]
Unfortunately, research findings show that decentralization has not enhanced
participation in local affairs by the majority of the citizens.[xxii]
Geoffrey Tukahebwa’s research so far makes this conclusion:
the ground, particularly in rural areas where the majority of the population
lives, civil society hardly exists. A few local organisations that have emerged
spontaneously are driven by survival strategies rather than the desire to
influence public policy. Therefore,
meaningful participation is lacking. There
is need to mobilise citizens to participate in regular council meetings and to
check corruption and hold leaders accountable.[xxiii]
is one of the cornerstones in the realisation of the right to development; it is
one of the core values of development. Self-determination
is a sense of worth and self-respect, of not being used as a tool by others for
their own ends. Self-determination
is based on the proclamation that all people of the world have an equal right to
liberty, the right to free themselves from any foreign interference and to
choose their own government, the right if they are under subjection to fight for
their liberation, and the right to benefit from other peoples assistance in
their struggle. The right to self-determination enables the people to enjoy
their economic rights and their right to culture without distinction as to race,
sex, belief or colour. It also
helps to empower people to exercise their inalienable right to full sovereignty
over their natural wealth and resources. This
is what self-determination is all about.
Universal Declaration of the Rights of the Peoples (Article 5-7) puts great
emphasis on the right to self-determination.
This right cannot be taken away; it is inalienable for every people who
by its virtue have the right to determine their political status freely and
without any foreign interference.
right of people to self-determination did empower the African peoples through
popular participation to achieve independence.
The racist regime in southern African collapsed in recognition of the
fact that the majority of the people have the right to determine their
government. In Uganda, the people
fought dictatorial regimes in order to break free the chains of dependence on
military decrees. However, some
lack of self-determination can still be seen in independent states including
Uganda where dictatorship (or is it paternalism?) and erosion of the right to
development are manifest. Such attitudes are often contained in the form of an
ideology: the ideology of “developmentalism.” Whereby rulers in developing
states try to determine for people their social, political, economic and
cultural life. Manifestations of
such ideologies in Uganda find their roots in military dictatorship and
one-party democracy whose implications are immense.
In the first place, it helps to demobilize and disunite people who are
already prone to disunity because of sheer diversities along social, cultural
and political lines. In the second
place, the ideology of developmentalism helps to oppress and suppress people
from realizing their developmental goals. The
other implications of this paternalism are aptly described by Issa Shivji:
ideology of developmentalism serves as a rationalization of the politics of the
ruling class under which the state and the ruling class establish their
organizational hegemony over the people through the demobilization of the
masses. This is accompanied by a
two-fold trend. On the level of the
state, power is concentrated in the executive/military arms as the various
representative organs such as parliament, etc., are marginalised or drained of
their democratic content. On the
level of civil society, various mass organizations are suppressed and usurped by
the state, thus mutilating, if not destroying, the organizational capacity of
lack of self-determination is a cause of poverty by making people dependant on
others. Indeed, self-determination is the national sense of self-esteem which
all peoples and societies seek to be independent of the chains of poverty and
dictatorship. Where a people have
no say in their affairs, they are colonized and oppressed because they have no
freedom to feed, clothe and/or house themselves as they would wish to.
They are deprived because they lack the autonomy to become self-reliant;
to break free requires national and international cooperation.
The creation of national and
international conditions favourable to the realization of the right to
development is certainly one of the responsibilities of every state.
This is because the realization of the right to development requires full
respect for the principles of international law.
Underlying international law are principles of the sovereign equality of
states, national and territorial integrity, the peaceful resolution of
international conflicts, and noninterference in the domestic matters of a
state—all of which are contained
in the Charter of the United Nations.
These principles are also
contained in Uganda’s foreign policy objectives.
In particular, Uganda upholds the following principles for its foreign
policy: (1) promotion of the national interest, (2) respect for international
law and treaty obligations, (3) peaceful co-existence and non-alignment, and (4)
settlement of international disputes by peaceful means.
these noble principles contained in our constitution and our obligations to
international treaties such as the UN and OAU charters, Uganda is far from the
promotion of international cooperation based on these maxims, except for the
East African Cooperation. There are many examples of this, but one notably clear
and familiar example is Uganda’s military involvement in the Democratic
Republic of Congo. Whether true or
not that Uganda’s involvement in the Congo is to promote its interest, its
presence there has caused conditions unfavourable to development.
How can the people of Eastern Congo develop if they are constantly in
fear of loss of their lives and property and of foreign domination, and are
constantly displaced from their homes? Uganda’s
reluctance and lack of commitment, especially by the top leadership, peaceful
means of resolving conflicts has been demonstrated by the Congo crisis.
For instance, Uganda and her one time ally Rwanda battled violently in
the Congo city of Kisangani in May 2000, contravening the requirements of the
Lusaka Peace Agreement, which called for a cease fire in the Congo war.
Similar such events have greatly retarded development in not only western
part of the country, but also the northern part that neighbours Sudan, which has
not enjoyed any good cooperation with Uganda for the last 15 years.
The need for peace and peaceful resolution of international as well as
national armed conflicts through mutual dialogue as a prerequisite for
development is not only urgent but also an imperative choice for development.
choice for dialogue promotes development and peace. Since dialogue requires an
acceptance of other persons and the thoughtful consideration of their
convictions, its practice demonstrates a belief in human dignity and solidarity.
. . . Dialogue also implies an expanded base of participation in the formation
of ongoing consensus. Skills and
attitudes essential to dialogue are essential to development and peace.
The option for nonviolent conflict resolution such as mediation,
confrontation, or non-cooperation contributes to the development of full
humanness and peace. . . .[xxv]
At the heart of international
cooperation is the need for a balanced international economic order.
At the moment, the African states are not on a par with the developed
nations of Europe, America and Asia as regards a balanced economic order. With
the huge amount of debt accumulated by many African states, it is almost
impossible to think of a balanced economic order based on the principles of
equity between partners, respect for their sovereignty, mutual interest and
interdependence, and respect of the right of each state to determine its own
political, social, cultural and economic policy options.
The continued involvement of the World Bank and the International
Monetary Fund (and their founding countries) in the social, economic and
political policies of Uganda is a clear indication of this imbalance.
In similar conclusions, Zie Gariyo noted that:
like many other indebted developing countries has for years been caught in a
vicious circle of poverty, deprivation, political conflict and civil strife
fuelled by the inability of its government to meet the basic needs of its
citizens. The international
economic system championed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the
World Bank and based on the primacy of markets has worsened rather than resolved
the debt crisis. Most developing
nations are currently undertaking structural adjustment programmes (SAPs)
imposed by the IMF/World Bank at the behest of the G7 group of nations which
comprise the vast majority of these institutions’ shareholders countries.[xxvi]
right to development also draws attention to the need for “equality of
opportunity for all in their access to basic resources, education, health
services, food, housing, employment and the fair distribution of income
especially for the marginalized and less advantaged members of society, such as
women, it is necessary to ensure that they have an active role in the
development process by eradicating all social injustices.
Social justice demands that all citizens be aided in “the creation of
patterns of societal organization and activity that are essential both for the
protection of minimal human rights and for the creation of mutuality and
participation by all in social life. In
other words, social justice is a political virtue.”[xxvii]
Linked to social justice is distributive justice, which establishes the equal
right of all to share or participate in all those goods and opportunities
necessary for genuine participation in the human community.[xxviii]
The demands of justice, are far-reaching in enhancing real development:
demands equality and fairness in all private transactions, wages, and property
ownership. It demands equal
opportunity for all to participate in the public goods generated by society as a
whole, such as social security, health care, and education. It demands that all persons share in material well-being at
least to a level that meets all basic human needs, such as those for food,
clothing, shelter, association, etc. And
finally it demands that all persons are under an obligation to share in the
creation of those public institutions which are necessary for the realization of
these other claims of justice.[xxix]
existence of different forms of social injustices in Africa arising mainly from
unequal treatment of people on the basis of their sex, religion, tribe,
political affiliation, region, etc., has often denied people full enjoyment of
their right to development. Women
in Africa, for instance, have experienced social injustices since time
immemorial, which has lead to their low participation in social, political and
economic activities of their societies. For
many societies, the place of women is still the private domain even if their
public participation in decision-making and implementation of development
programs is known to yield greater development results.
In Uganda, the development gap between the rural and urban areas,
northern and southern areas, and between women and men is still wide.
Unfortunately, there has been limited intervention to redress these
imbalances. For instance, although
the government has committed a lot of resources to implementing the Universal
Primary Education program, there is no direct targeting of girls education to
reverse the historical and social cultural impediments towards girls’
education resulting in a literacy rate of 38 percent for women compared to 65
percent for men.[xxx]
In an attempt to redress the regional imbalances in development between
the north and the rest of the country, the government introduced the Northern
Uganda Reconstruction Program (NURP). The
program has, however, achieved limited results in terms of schools and roads
construction because its implementation was characterized by insecurity and
corruption. Indeed, social injustices are major hindrances to the realization of
the right to development.
the light of the above discussion, the right to development in Uganda has not
yet found real reflection on the life of the ordinary people, many of whom are
still excluded from the development process. Uganda must get beyond
constitutional provisions to translate these guidelines into concrete human
well-being guided by comprehensive principles and an approach most suitable for
the realization of this right to development.
The people of Uganda must, therefore, hold its government morally and
politically accountable for any deviation from the principles and objectives of
state policy contained in the constitution.
This is not to say that the people are exonerated from their
responsibility to develop themselves individually and collectively.
approach most suitable for the realization of the right to development is
holistic and integral, considering not only the economic well-being of the
people but also taking into account the social, political, cultural and moral
dimensions of their life; one that considers the human person as the central
subject, active participant and beneficiary of the right to development.
from the United Nations Declaration on the Right to Development, integral
development requires that the principles of human centered development,
participation, democracy, self-determination, social justice and international
cooperation be upheld. Integral
development therefore, must be underlined by good governance.
Dictatorships or political monopolies cannot create a conducive
atmosphere for development, although this has been the extended experience of
many African countries including Uganda. The
right to development recognizes peoples’
potentialities and capabilities to determine their political and economic life.
It recognizes that peoples should define their form of governance: how to be
governed, by whom, and when. As a necessary condition for economic development,
recognition of peoples’ sovereignty over their natural resources is paramount.
Economic development is not simply economic growth or the numerical
increase of national gross domestic product (GDP); it encompasses the overall
well-being of peoples. It involves the evolution of new forms of economic
systems, trade relations, and the establishment of relevant economic policies
and institutions. These must facilitate not only the production of goods and
services, but also their distribution to all people of the community for their
consumption and well-being. The “promotion of human dignity, basic human
rights, solidarity of people, participation, and self-determination need to
become the warp and woof of the economic structures.”[xxxi]
Peoples’ development, therefore, must be rooted in “basic human needs and
dignity,” rather than on greed.
development involves also the social and cultural well-being of people.
The social aspect of development presupposes that the wealth of the
country is equally shared among its people.
The cultural aspect of development presupposes that a country is able to
grow and progress with its own values intact.
Uganda must not succumb to a materialistic consumerism life style,
sacrificing and loosing its social sensitivity because of rapid economic
development resulting from the forces of globalization.
The country should develop with its peculiar and particular creativity,
values, talents and skills. We need to cultivate our values of integrity,
solidarity, love and respect for others, which are intrinsic in our cultures and
important in facilitating true and meaningful human relations significant for
the peoples’ development.
development requires that concrete choices ought to be made in order to achieve
and maintain justice and peace. The
option for collaboration, dialogue and nonviolent resolution of conflict are
some of the more significant choices.[xxxii]
Uganda, therefore, must promote regional integration and international
cooperation based on the true principles of international relations. International cooperation must play a significant part in
encouraging and promoting the rights to development by creating peace and
promoting respect for human rights.
For such a remark, see B. J. Odoki, The
Report of the Uganda Constitutional Commission: Analysis and Recommendations
(Kampala: Uganda Printing and Publishing Press, 1993).
J. Oloka-Onyango, “Poverty and
Marginalization in the Age of Extreams: Reflections on Human Rights and
Development in Contemporary Uganda,” in D. Carabine and M. O’Reilly,
The Challenge of Eradicating Poverty
in the World: An African Response (Nkozi: Uganda Martyrs University
Press, 1998), p. 84.
The Report of the Uganda Constitutional Commission, p. 638.
R.J. Vincent, Human Rights and
International Relations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986),
I. G. Shivji, The Concept of Human
Rights in Africa (London: 1989), p. 71.
Shivji has argued for a historical and social rooting of human
rights. He has dismissed any
claim to individual rights because the right holder for him “is not
exclusively an autonomous individual but a collective, a people, a
Allen and Thomas (eds.), Poverty and
Development in the 1990s (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), p. 6.
United Nations, Declaration on the
Right to Development, 1986, Article 1.
B. J. Odoki, The Report of the Uganda
Constitutional Commission: Analysis and Recommendations (Kampala: Uganda
Printing and Publishing Press, 1993), p. 133.
R. Rich, “ Right to Development: A Right of Peoples,” in J. Crawford
(ed.), The Rights of Peoples (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988), p. 41.
Kaba M’baye, “Emergence of the Right to Development as a Human Right in
the Context of a New International Economic Order,” paper presented to the
UNESCO Meeting of Experts on Human Needs and the Establishment of a New
International Economic Order, Paris, 19-23 June 1978.
Paul VI, The encyclical letter Populorum
Progressio: On the Development of Peoples, in: Gremillion (ed.), The Gospel of Peace and Justice: Catholic Social Teaching Since Pope
John (New York, 1976), p. 387.
Organization of African Unity, African Charter for Popular Participation
in Development and Transformation (Arusha, 1990), Article 8.
World Bank, Sub-Saharan Africa from
Crisis to Sustainable Growth, (Washington: 1989) p. 63.
J. Oloka-Onyango, “Poverty and
Marginalization in the Age of Extremes: Reflections on Human Rights and
Development in Contemporary Uganda,” in D. Carabine and M. O’Reilly,
The Challenge of Eradicating Poverty
in the World: An African Response (Nkozi: Uganda Martyrs University
Press, 1998), p. 101.
United Nations, An Agenda for
Development (New York: 1997), p. 66.
Organization of African Unity, “African Charter for Popular Participation
in Development and Transformation” (Arusha, 1990) Article 10.
An International Conference on Popular Participation in the Recovery
and Development Process in Africa.
“African Charter for Popular Participation in Development and
Transformation,” Arusha, 12-16 February 1990, paragraph 6.
P. Langseth, “Civil Service Reform,” in P. Langseth (ed.),
Democratic Decentralization in Uganda (Kampala: Fountain Publisher,
1996), p. 1.
The Government of Uganda, The Local Government Act, 1997.
Apolo Nsibambi, Decentralization and
Civil Society in Uganda: The Quest for Good Governance (Kampala:
Fountain Publishers, 1998), p. 2.
G. B. Tukahebwa, “The Role of District Councils in Decentralization,” in
Apolo Nsibambi, Decentralization and
Civil Society in Uganda: The Quest for Good Governance (Kampala:
Fountain Publisher, 1998), p. 29.
Issa G. Shijvi, op. cit., pp.
83-84. Shijvi is critical to
the treatment of the right to development as demands of the Third World
states for better terms on the international market, greater aid and
assistance. “At best, these are statist trade union demands which seek
a little more comfortable accommodation for Third World ruling classes
within the existing order. At
worst, they amount to no more than a new way a asserting a ‘right’ to
Mary Elsbernd, A Theology of Peace
Making: A Vision, a Road, a Task (Lanham, MD: University Press of
America, 1989), p. 226. Elsbernd
argues that development is a new vision of peace, marked by positive action
and a sense of wholeness requiring a proactive understanding of trust.
Zie Gariyo, Uganda: Putting
Development before Debt, Discussion Paper No. 1 May 2000, pages 2-3.
David Hollenbach, Justice, Peace and
Human Rights (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1988), p. 27.
See Zie Gariyo, op. cit., p. 16.
See Mary Elsbernd, op. cit., p.
See Mary Elsbernd, op. cit., p.