Rights based Approach

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Explain what international development organisations usually mean when they speak of ‘the rights-based approach’. What is specific about the processes, outcomes and ways of thinking that distinguishes such an approach from a conventional ‘needs-based approach? Is the difference sufficient to be considered significant? Use examples to illustrate your answer.

Introduction

Traditional meaning of the development was mainly about the economic growth. Many development organizations and actors focused primarily on the particular measures to bring the economic growth to the underdeveloped countries. With these measures and approaches, they saw the poverty and underdevelopment as the consequences of the lack of capital, goods, and knowledge. So the donor states or international development organizations approached the development problems by providing required capital and goods to the developing countries, which is understood as needs-based approach (NBA). Even though, billion dollars and many resources were put into the development industries for many years, except in some areas, there were no significant development and progress. Billions of people are still living under the poverty and without access to the basic services, and the gap between the rich and the poor became worse both globally and nationally throughout these years. So they reevaluated their policies and approaches , and in recent years, the focus of development shifted more to the human rights and equality, which is called rights-based approach (RBA).

Human Rights, Equality, and Development

Fukuda-Parr(2009) describes that development is not only about the economic growth but also about the redistribution of this wealth equally to the people to meet and realize the rights. Unlike the other form of development practices, RBA sees the lack of rights such as rights to education or health, and the inequality are the sources of poverty that is different from the economic perspective on poverty. The increased wealth should be distributed fairly to the poor and marginalized people mainly to increase their capabilities, help them to access the basic services and to fulfill their rights. Economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights are linked and reinforcing each other. Denial of one right can lead to the negative impacts on the other rights, and it can create a vicious cycle ( Fukuda-Parr, 2009). So, development must target to meet these rights, and all development programs should be designed within the framework of human rights. With this point of view, development and human rights are the two sides of the coin and indivisible. Oesterich (2014) describes the linkage between the human rights and development as follow:

“On the other hand, development is expected to promote the human rights; rather than the economic growth or other such metrics; for example development should be taken into consideration women’s rights…[..]…On the other hand, rights are assumed to promote the development: people will be more economically productive if they are not discriminated against, if they feel secure in their person, can speak freely …….”( Oesterich, 2014)

The World Bank (1991) also describes that:

“ Development in a broader sense is understood to include other important and related attributes as well, notably more equality of opportunity and political and civil liberties. The overall goal of development is therefore to increase the economic, political, and civil rights of all people across gender, ethnic groups, religions, races, regions and countries” (World Bank 1991)

As described above, human rights, equality and development are totally related and reinforcing each other. Many development actors adopt the normative frameworks of rights and started to apply these international standards in practical fields. Rights are the international agreed set of norms, backed by the international law. Rights are defined as the entitlements that every human...
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