Development theory and human rights were not linked until the end of the twentieth century. People used to focus on development in economic, political, and cultural domains without taking into account human resources and human rights. It was acceptable to focus on society as something general without going into detail when it comes to individuals, especially those coming from most vulnerable groups. Nevertheless, people have acknowledged the importance of linking the two concepts.
First of all, it is necessary to define development theory and human rights to understand whether the two domains can be linked. Development theory focuses on desirable changes in society. These theories include such fields as economic development, human development, social development, cultural development, and so on. Human rights are indivisible rights of every human being in the world. These rights include the right to access essential resources (water, food, shelter), the right to practice any religion and adhere to any group, the right to access the benefits of the society (education, employment), and so on.
Admittedly, it is clear that human rights are relevant for development theory as they are aimed at development. It may seem that development theory is incomplete without attention to human rights, which can be regarded as a part of the social, economic, and political development of society. Amplification of human rights can be seen as certain evidence of the specific development of society.
Nevertheless, there are some limitations which make human rights less irrelevant for development theory. Thus, development theory is based on principles of relativism and context, while human rights are associated with absolute norms. It is often difficult to link such divergent discourses as development theory seeks numerous compromises while human rights are very straightforward. It can be difficult to apply such inflexible concepts to such a flexible theory.
For instance, in terms of development theory, it is acceptable to seek certain restrictions for the sake of the overall good or further development of society. Remarkably, human rights are often the object of sacrifice as it is acknowledged that the development of societies is often achieved through limitations or certain neglect of human rights.
Furthermore, human rights can be applicable to all countries. Likewise, development theory is also globally exploited. However, it is impossible to develop a global development theory with special attention to human rights. In different countries, people share quite different values. Obviously, development theory is based on (or is affected by) these values. Sometimes certain rights are irrelevant or difficult to understand and accept in some areas. Hence, development theory cannot focus on the amplification of human rights.
On balance, it is possible to note that human rights are sometimes irrelevant to development theory. This is due to a serious divergence between the two domains. One of the major differences is that development theory is based on the principle of flexibility and compromise, while human rights are straightforward. This inflexibility is manifested on both global and national levels. Thus, development theory is shaped by certain values existing in different areas. These values also shape people’s attitudes towards human rights, making some of them irrelevant. Nonetheless, it is also necessary to note that in many cases human rights (the vast majority of them) are relevant to development theory. More so, it is crucial to make sure that human rights are certain basis and aim of development theory.
Human rights based approach is now employed in development practice. It is possible to state that development agents have formed their principles based on human rights based approach. Hence, international organizations postulate major human rights and develop their programs and practices on the basis of thee HR. At present, people are trying to achieve change and make sure human rights are enjoyed by as many people as possible.
The UN postulates the necessity to amplify human rights worldwide. The organization is aimed at launching development practices which would bring the change to the society. The change is also associated with attention to such issues as equality, inclusion and justice. Numerous international organizations try to draw attention to (and diminish) gender inequality, discrimination of certain groups (indigenous people, the poor, minorities and so on), poor governance which leads to disproportionate distribution of resources. It is necessary to note that development practices involve solutions to the issues mentioned above.
It is possible to identify eight major development goals in terms of human rights based approach. First, international organizations are trying to diminish extreme poverty as well as hunger in the world. They are trying to enable all people to access universal primary education. International organizations are also working on promotion of gender equality.
Reduction of child mortality and improving maternal health are other goals. International organizations also aim at reducing such diseases as malaria, HIV/AIDS and other dangerous disorders. Of course, environmental sustainability is also associated with manifestation of human rights as it is a basic right of a human to live in a healthy environment. Finally, international organizations collaborate with each other and governments to develop global partnership in the world.
Notably, there can be limitations to the use of human rights based approach in development practice. These limitations are regional and are often associated with poor governance. As has been mentioned above, international institutions focus on amplification of human rights and use human rights based approach while working on development practices. Nonetheless, governments or ruling elites are often reluctant to employ HR based approach as it requires additional investment. Clearly, corrupted governments focus on accumulation of wealth rather than real development of the country.
Luckily, international law is also based on human rights based approach and governments are often forced to follow assigned development practice. Thus, such organizations as the UN, World Bank, World Health Organization and others force governments to ensure people’s access to essential food, water, shelter as well as sanitation. Development practices existent in the world also involve attention to people’s access to major drugs. Clearly, development practices employed by international organizations also include attention to education and social security of people.
To sum up, it is possible to note that human rights based approach is relevant to development practice even though there are certain limitations. One of major limitations is corruption in different governments which are reluctant to utilize human rights based approach as ruling elites are focused on personal enrichment. However, this approach is likely to be applicable worldwide in the nearest future as globalization is inevitable and more and more countries are bound to comply with international law. Notably, people have achieved significant results during recent years and this success is likely to continue as more and more countries understand benefits of the human rights based approach.