Developing rights?

Publication year: 

The recent 'rise of rights' has sparked much critical reflection, one of the key concerns being 'What is different this time'?. Can this emerging focus on rights within development help bring about favourable changes for poor and marginalised people?

This issue of the IDS Bulletin addresses diverse perspectives and questions across a spectrum of current thinking, policy and practice. Why the rights-based approach and why now? Whose rights count? 'Rights' work has evolved from an historical focus on human rights violations and concern for legal protection, but its future depends on direct engagement with civil society causes.

Development needs rights as much as rights need development. Illustrated here are struggles for rights within specific contexts (tenants associations in Kenya; children's organisations in India): the perspective of marginalised groups alters how formal rights are given meaning. Using rights in practice is challenging and filled with contradictions and tensions. The struggle for rights is happening and it is not simply an agenda of the powerful.

What emerges from this IDS Bulletin is a vibrant picture of often diverse meanings and strategies pursued throughout the world. If the current enthusiasm for rights in development can open thinking spaces and result in appropriate action, rather than serving as a one-size-fits-all export, then rights bases approaches are to be welcomed. Moving beyond old debates and recognising that rights must be claimed and realised by real people, the development community can discover what rights will ultimately mean in context and practice.

Table of contents

  • Introduction: Developing Rights: Discourse to Context and Practice (pdf), Jethro Pettit and Joanna Wheeler
  • 'Why Rights, Why Now? Reflections on the Rise of Rights in International Development Discourse', Andrea Cornwall and Celestine Nyamu-Musembi
  • 'Rights-based Approaches and Bilateral Aid Agencies: More Than a Metaphor?', Laure-Hélène Piron
  • 'Rights-based Development: Linking Rights and Participation - Challenges in Thinking and Action', Valerie Miller, Lisa VeneKlasen and Cindy Clark
  • 'An Actor-oriented Approach to Rights in Development', Celestine Nyamu-Musembi
  • 'Rights-based Approaches: Recovering Past Innovations', Valerie Miller, Lisa VeneKlasen and Cindy Clark
  • 'Rights and Power: The Challenge for International Development Agencies', Alexandra Hughes, Joanna Wheeler and Rosalnd Eyben
  • 'Can a Rights-based Approach Help in Achieving the Millennium Development Goals?', Salil Shetty
  • 'Living Rights: Reflections from Women's Movements About Gender and Rights in Practice', Cindy Clark, Molly Reilly and Joanna Wheeler
  • 'Small Hands, Big Voices? Children's Participation in Policy Change in India', Emma Williams
  • 'Operationalising the Rights Agenda: Participatory Rights Assessment in Peru and Malawi', James Blackburn, Mary Ann Brocklesby, Sheena Crawford and Jeremy Holland
  • 'Defining Rights from the Roots: Insights from Council Tenants' Struggles in Mombasa, Kenya', Samuel Musyoki and Celestine Nyamu-Musembi
  • 'Rights and Citizenship in Brazil: The Challenges for Civil Society, Almir Pereira Júnior, Jorge Romano and Marta Antunes
  • 'Beyond Approaches and Models: Reflections on Rights and Social Movements in Kenya, Haiti and the Philippines', Mwambi Mwasaru
  • 'Transforming Rights into Social Practices? The Landless Movement and Land Reform in Brazil', Zander Navarro
Source publication information
Journal Title: 
IDS bulletin
Vol.36, no.1
Bookshop, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, Brighton BN1 9RE, UK
Publisher reference: 
Institute of Development Studies

How to find this resource

Shelfmark in IDS Resource Centre
D : Advocacy, citizenship and social change 4801
Post date: 01/01/2000 - 00:00