Review of Human Rights-Based Approaches to Development: Empirical Evidence from Developing Countries

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Despite the rise of human rights-based approaches to development (HRBA), there is no comprehensive overview of recent empirical studies. This scoping review was conducted to collate empirical research on HRBA programmes in developing countries. This research reviewed twenty-nine studies published between 2015 and 2019 to discern the patterns in current understandings and explore the operationalisation and contribution of HRBAs. Overall, development practices in the name of HRBAs varied considerably. Results of the analysis revealed that (a) the right to health was more studied, (b) programmes were designed primarily for marginalised people, (c) principles of participation and empowerment were widely highlighted, and (d) positive changes at individual and programme levels were more reported that those at societal and structural levels. Given the predominance of qualitative studies, thematic analysis was additionally conducted. The analysis highlighted the role of theories, the influence of contexts and development players, tensions between conflicting rights, and added values of HRBAs. The key findings, including identified challenges and strengths, can have potential implications for development practices.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberonline first
Number of pages20
JournalThe International Journal of Human Rights
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Sep 2021


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