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Submitted by Sara on
I think the last blogger nailed it on the head. If Country A has successfully delivered education and health services to the majority of its population (accounting for attrition and migration), and yet - as happened yesterday in China - when a citizen of Country A decides to exercise their human rights to run for office and gets jailed, or - as happened in the US yesterday - blows everyone up who is on line at a pharmacy with a machine gun, human rights becomes more important, and more concrete, than human development. You can educate and heal all the people in Country A, just to send them off to work as slaves in a factory, or send them all off to war. You can have great stats on schooling and health care ("proof"), and have a society where these means do not erase social exclusion, State violence or their lack of basic human freedoms. The frustration that this question arouses because these are two very different things: one is a means (human development) and the other an ends (human rights) where human rights is a 'moral law'. To answer your debate question, sure, the data for Country A can show high levels of human development without necessarily respecting fundamental freedoms, or even going against them. In this sense, you are right, but so what? Would we ever design a program or policy excluding human rights because human development already is expensive enough? You would never expect Country A and Country B, assuming much different levels of development, history, policy and economy, to approach human development strategies the same way, or even to define human development priorities the same way (i.e., sequencing human development policies the way we need to sequence economic policies). But you would - and we should as a global community with moral obligations - expect them to treat their citizens according to the same moral law. Human rights originates in the idea that people are not a means but an end in themselves. Human development, however, is a means to an end, it is an imperfect, non-linear, contextually specific policy process. My feeling is it's better to stick with a debate that sheds some light, not just heat, and there are plenty, like one of upmost urgency: human development and economic development. Now here's one where you can shed some light! Thanks, Sara