Research topic: Rights and Development

Among the most talked about issues in politics today is human rights, and there is growing acceptance that human beings, irrespective of where they live, have certain common goals related to life and well-being (both at individual and collective levels) that they cherish.


Right approaches

The human rights-based approach to development (HRBA) gained momentum in the 1990s against the backdrop of growing criticism of the relative failure of so-called ‘conventional’ development strategies – encouraged and pursued by national and international agencies – to eradicate poverty. The solution, many argued, was to adopt a HRBA which entails the process of human development that is normatively based on international human rights standards and operationally aimed at promoting and protecting human rights.

Another approach that has attracted considerable attention in recent years is ‘Legal Empowerment of the Poor’ (LEP), which argues that poverty persists partly because the poor do not enjoy legal rights or the power to exercise those rights. The goal of empowering the poor requires more than simply a transfer of resources; it entails the creation of sound legal and political frameworks which specifically address the needs of poor and vulnerable groups in the population and hold political and administrative leaders to account for policy failures.

SUMs research on Rights and Development focuses on

  • Critical studies of how the HRBA and LEP approaches are operationalized in practice in selected countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, South and Southeast Asia and Latin America.
  • Empirical research on social justice and accountability of states and exploring public policies and law reforms aimed at legal and social empowerment of the poor by promoting, protecting and fulfilling human rights
  • Specific areas of focus including the rule of law and access to justice, the informal sector and labour rights.


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Published Aug. 17, 2011 3:51 PM - Last modified Dec. 17, 2015 9:38 AM