Ethics, Rights and Poverty: Global Theory and National Practice (completed)

The recent trend to view poverty as a ‘denial’ or ‘violation’ of basic human rights – concepts with both an ethical and a legal edge – offers a new type of grounding for poverty reduction strategies. It is unclear, however, what this actually implies in practice.

About the project

By focusing on an ethical understanding of the relationship between rights and poverty, we wish to critically examine the connection – or lack of it – between global theories and local practices, i.e. abstract theorising on the one hand and the ground-level challenges faced by UN practitioners on the other. We bring to this project research competence from political science, philosophy, sociology and economics, and will build on our recent and ongoing research on ethics, human rights and poverty at global and national levels. We greatly welcome the commitment by development policy-makers to poverty reduction and the inclusion of a more explicitly ethical perspective, but we are concerned that these new approaches may not live up to expectations, and that ethical values may be instrumentalised or altogether lost.

The study will focus primarily on three key UN agencies which have been at the forefront of developing and using the HRBA (UNDP, UNICEF and OHCHR) and three countries in Africa (South Africa, Uganda, Malawi) and three countries in Asia (India, Bangladesh and Vietnam). A comparative study of these six,countries representing a diversity of contexts and approaches, will shed light on the range of options for applying the HRBA framework. In each continent, we have selected one country (South Africa and India) that not only has a strong state but also a relatively well-established record (compared to others on the same continent) of protecting and promoting HRBA to poverty reduction.



Published Aug. 30, 2011 10:20 AM - Last modified Sep. 26, 2011 1:46 PM


Detailed list of participants