A recent growing convergence between the realms of human rights and international development could signify advancements in both. One shift among schools of thought in international development over last decades has been that from an exclusive focus on economic growth as a yardstick of progress to an approach centered on human well-being and “freedoms” as a measure of a country’s level of development.
However, there is much left to be done to achieve meaningful alignment between the global development agenda and states’ previous human rights commitments. Regrettably, the incorporation of human rights into development has been largely reserved to abstract conversations rather than as an implementation strategy in development processes. In turn, the human rights community has struggled to translate general principles and standards into feasible and targeted policy prescriptions, which have resulted in some missed opportunities.
This has been detrimental to achieving accountability in the fullest sense, which—from a human rights perspective—includes but goes beyond development concepts of "good governance." This lack of "mainstreaming" of human rights principles and standards has been detrimental, for example, in the commitment and enforceability of the Millennium Goals, which are unlikely to be met by their deadline. Moreover, the MDG framework fails to address non-discrimination, participation and the structural factors that perpetuate poverty and deprivation. This has led to uneven progress, lukewarm funding on programs for national strategies, and a lack of ownership over the goals.
CESR works to capitalize on the convergences and bridge the disciplinary divides between the development and human rights agendas. We seek to render development processes more accountable for economic and social rights violations. As the world faces emerging challenges compounding existing crises such as climate change, rapid urbanization, food insecurity, social protection needs, globalization forces and economic volatility, and growing inter-country and intra-country inequalities, a human-rights based approach to development is all the more crucial to make sustainable and equitable progress and to move the world forward into a new era of social justice.