Rights, advocacy and participation: what's working?

Publication year: 

In this article, as part of the 50th issue of PLA Notes, the authors look at the distinct but interconnected areas of participation and transformation. They explore how these processes can be brought together to shift the deeply embedded forces of power and social exclusion. The authors also explore how the language and practices of rights and advocacy can contribute to the effort, and how practitioners can best engage with rights-based approaches to development. The article provides a summary of some key insights that have emerged from the collective efforts of many people and organizations. Some of the key lessons emerging include the importance of understanding power, exclusion and social change; the need to think through strategy and vision before methods and tools; the value of drawing from diverse traditions; integrating work on human rights and development needs; working with multiple actors and building knowledge and awareness; accountability; and the need for time and patience to rights and advocacy work to affect meaningful change. In conclusion, the authors identify several challenges ahead, such as misuse or non-reflective use of participatory methods; dimensions of power and professional dominance; the need to strengthen community-based organisations while also looking beyond the local to the public sector; issues of donor dependency; and finally, dimensions of individual learning and change.

Source publication information
Journal Title: 
Participatory learning and action
No. 50
IIED, 3 Endsleigh Street, London WC1H ODD, UK
Publisher reference: 
International Institute for Environment and Development