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Differentiating the Rights-Based Approach From Other Development Approaches in Theory and in Practice

dc.creatorCarella, Anna Catherine 2023
dc.description.abstractIn this dissertation, I offer a more rigorous theoretical and practical understanding of the rights based approach (RBA) vis-à-vis other approaches to international development. I compare the RBA to three other development approaches – the gross domestic product (GDP) growth approach, the basic needs approach, and the capabilities approach – to demonstrate how it specifically differs from these in theory. Though the RBA has some aspects in common with these other approaches, what sets it apart is its focus on structural and political change and its understanding of development as the struggle for social justice. I then utilize a rubric developed by Ackerly (2012) for assessing whether the RBA is being used in practice. I apply the rubric to a drinking water project in southwestern coastal Bangladesh. I collect ethnographic data and then analyze this data to assess what approach is used. My findings suggest that the project design did not utilize the RBA, but rather a basic needs or capabilities approach. This is a surprising finding since UNICEF, who led the project, is fully committed to the RBA. I then make a normative argument that the goal of development should be a more democratic society where people’s human rights are most protected sustainably in the long term, with democratic accountability being a key mechanism. The RBA, I argue, is the only approach that builds towards this goal. Finally, I suggest two modifications to Ackerly’s rubric, and conclude with the limitations of my study and areas for further research. By providing clarity about the RBA at both the theoretical and implementation levels, I contribute to the scholarship on global justice and international development.
dc.subjectrights-based approach, human rights, international development, global justice, political theory, international politics
dc.titleDifferentiating the Rights-Based Approach From Other Development Approaches in Theory and in Practice
dc.type.materialtext Science University Graduate School
dc.contributor.committeeChairAckerly, Brooke

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