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human rights

How Human Rights Have Contributed to Development

Otaviano Canuto's picture

The last 20 years have seen a growing engagement between development and human rights practitioners. But are we still mainly talking past each other? Or has there been valuable mutual learning with development results on the ground?

Let’s start by clarifying what I mean when I refer here to human rights. Adapted from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, human rights are international norms that help to protect all people everywhere from severe political, legal, economic and social abuses, or, alternatively, which serve to secure and preserve extremely important goods, protections and freedoms in these various areas, for all people everywhere. These rights are now embodied in the 1947 Universal Declaration on Human Rights and nine core international covenants and treaties.

Since 1947 much has happened. And in the last two decades, there has been a growing convergence between human rights and development. Paralleling the broad reach of human rights concerns, the scope of development has also extended enormously. From mainly being concerned with economic growth, the term has broadened to include poverty reduction, inequality, human and social development, the environment, governance and institutions, just to name some. From GDP figures, we now also think about households and the specific needs of specific groups.

Obama backs U.N. indigenous rights declaration

Harry A. Patrinos's picture

Parents in Mexico meeting at a schoolWe just wrapped up a research dissemination workshop for an upcoming study on Indigenous Peoples, Poverty and Development. About 50 people attended the event  in person and several more viewed the event via webcast. All the proceedings are available to view on the event site.

The timing of this event couldn’t be better. Just last week U.S. President Barack Obama endorsed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. The declaration recognizes the rights of indigenous groups in such areas as culture, property and self-determination.

The challenge of forced displacement and survival Migration

Margarita Puerto Gomez's picture

The World Bank’s Social Development Department (SDV) and Migration and Remittances Unit hosted a brown bag lunch (BBL) on state fragility, forced displacement, and survival migration on September 21, 2010. Dr. Alexander Betts from the University of Oxford presented a compelling argument on the need for innovative institutional approaches to displacement and forced migration as a development challenge. In today’s world of internal conflicts, state and societal fragility, and climate-related threats to food security, constant movements of people are not only associated with political persecution (“refugees”) or the mere desire to improve livelihoods (“economic migrants”), but also with a concept called “survival migration.” According to Dr Betts, this concept refers to people who are forced to move outside of their countries of origin because of an existential threat to their liberty, security, or livelihood systems.  Such people do not fall within the existing conventions and agreements related to displaced people. Case studies conducted in Angola, Botswana, among others, illustrate that these migrants are extremely vulnerable groups and that their human rights are often violated in host countries.

The Empty Stomach and Citizen Demand

Sabina Panth's picture

 

In my blog posts, I have been introducing some tools and techniques that are being tried and tested to instigate citizen-led, demand-driven good governance practices. In this post, I wish to analyze the processes that are involved in working towards that goal.  In other words, what are the basic minimal requirements that need to be in place to initiate and realize demand-driven accountability? Where is the starting point? What are the constraints or opportunities that support or hinder the movement? The purpose of this analysis is to draw out ground realities to understand the effectiveness of the practice to make better policy and program decisions.

Establishing Norms in Large Organizations (Or: How to Win the Turf War)

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

Wharton Professor Galit Sarfaty just published a paper on changing norms in international institutions, using as an example the advance of the human rights agenda in the World Bank. The study describes the process of how new norms are adopted - or not - in large organizations and how different factions negotiate their positions. It's well worth a read and spells out the difficulties of reforming organizations and establishing new norms.

Promoting Press Freedom. . . and More

Shanthi Kalathil's picture

Yesterday, U.S. president Barack Obama signed the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act, which requires the U.S. State Department to specifically highlight press freedom issues in its annual review of countries' human rights. According to news reports, the annual human rights review will now explicitly identify whether countries participate in or condone press freedom violations.

What, if any, effect will this have on efforts to promote independent media around the world? Some would say that, at the nuts-and-bolts level, not much. Reforming and opening media sectors requires hard work, including coalition building, technical training, and sustained effort by multiple actors. Rhetoric and reports cannot on their own improve any individual country's press freedom environment.

More Africans in Latin America than Natives

Yasmine Cathell's picture

 

The recent tragedy in Haiti has brought photos of its people to the international stage. If you didn’t know where Haiti was on a map, you might at first glance assume that it was somewhere in Africa, but it’s not. Most people don’t realize that there are African descendents all over Central and South America and not just in the Caribbean. The remnants of the slave trade go beyond ethnic heritage, however, and are still evident in the almost culturally engrained racism that permeates the region.


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