Human Rights and Human Development
The Human Rights Institute: University of Connecticut Economic Rights Working Paper Series Working Paper 4, November 2007
32 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2013
Date Written: November 1, 2007
This paper uses Sen’s capability approach to explore whether there are inherent contradictions between human rights and development. Sen’s capability and human development approach provides a conceptual framework within which human rights principles can be incorporated into development planning and action because his theory of development as capability expansion deﬁnes the ultimate purpose of development as the expansion of human freedom). The ’human rights based approach’ has gained momentum as an idea and is being adopted by several international NGOs and donor agencies in their development work. Yet many development practitioners and economists remain sceptical of this approach and its implementation has been partial. To assess the spread of this approach in government policy, the paper analysed Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers for 55 countries and ﬁnds only a few substantially engages with human rights as a development objective or integrate human rights principles into development strategies. The paper reviews the theoretical critiques and concludes that the obstacles to further implementation do not lie with inherent contradictions between human rights principles and development but with gaps in practical approaches. In particular, it identiﬁes interpretation of the principle of indivisibility as a major obstacle; the absolutist interpretation leads to positions that amount to little more than sloganeering that undermines the credibility of the approach. More work is needed to analyse norms of human rights that relate to the duty bearer to promote human rights in development in economic, social and governance policies.
Keywords: human rights based approach to development, poverty, economic and social rights, capability approach, Amartya Sen, PRSP
JEL Classification: A14, F43, I31, J00, L39
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