Past Edition
Edition Four, 2003
Can development work without human rights?

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Edition Summary:

Why rights?

This Global Future focuses on the debate around a rights-based approach to development, and why it is considered a profound shift in development thinking and practice. Talk of rights abounds in development circles, but the verdict is still out on the detail.

Rory Mungoven's opening article highlights a growing consensus between rights and development agencies on economic/social/cultural and civil/political rights. Many would endorse the words of Bertrand Ramcharan, Acting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, that the rights-based approach's ultimate objective is "to address the discrimination, powerlessness and weaknesses in systems of accountability that lie at the root of poverty and other development problems". Yet, as several contributors note, there remain diverse views on why a rights-based approach is needed and what it means practically. Ramcharan and others affirm the international law basis for the approach; Ronald Sider and others consider the dignity of humans created in God's image as primary. Our contributors tackle conceptual dilemmas and also, like Rob Williams and Kumi Naidoo, address oft-raised objections on practicalities.

But what does a rights-based approach look like? The answer comes in glimpses: of state policymakers (Soledad Alvear, Chile's Foreign Minister); aid donors and their NGO partners (Kathy Vandergrift); civil society actors. Alan Whaites argues the World Bank's critical role in helping states implement human rights; Peter Frankental corporations' role as duty bearers. Other contributors spotlight what rights, or a profound lack thereof, look like "on the ground" - for children, disabled people, those under military occupation in Palestine, and indigenous peoples.

For development agencies moving towards a rights approach, Williams offers practical steps, while Thomas Joseph shares an instructive account of one agency's serious quest to mainstream rights - the tough choices involved, and the rewards.


  • Common cause - human rights and development NGOs - Rory Mungoven
  • Rights-based development - how to get there from here - Rob Williams
  • Linking social programmes to rights in Chile - an inclusive, participatory approach - Soledad Alvear
  • When rights collide - Ronald Sider
  • The World Bank - doing the rights thing? - Alan Whaites
  • A paradigm shift in business and human rights - Peter Frankental
  • Child rights in development - a Philippine experience - Aimyleen Velicaria-Gabriel
  • Civil society and a human rights-based approach to development - Kumi Naidoo
  • Promoting human rights in development - a reflection - Roberta Hestenes
  • Adopting a rights-based approach to development - Thomas Joseph
  • Human rights - are disabled people included? - Jonathan Flower
  • The Gaza Strip - devastation, not rights or development - Raji Sourani
  • Rights and development - finishing the work of creation - Arik Ascherman
  • A human rights-based approach to development - how far have we come? - Bertrand Ramcharan
  • Development - too costly for Philippines indigenous people? - Gerardo Gobrin
  • Donor agencies in an era of implementation - Kathy Vandergrift
  • Good news for the poor - Tony Campolo
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