Historically, development and human rights have existed entirely separately, at the levels of both discourse and practice. The problem originated from both sides, an act of choice, not a necessity. As a result, practitioners and policymakers have missed great potential for the clarification of mandates, mutual learning, and collaboration on the ground.
The human rights community—especially in the rich countries, which dominate the global human rights movement in resources, visibility, and impact—has focused almost exclusively on CP rights in isolation from their economic and social contexts. With the exception of a few academics and some marginal UN committees, it has totally neglected ESC rights, not to mention collective rights. No major human rights watchdog organizations exist for ESC rights, which are generally relegated to obscure UN subcommittees whose work never makes newspaper headlines.1 Beyond routine declarations about the indivisibility of all rights, for all intents and purposes most ESC rights have not been part of human rights practice for most of the last half century. As a result, the rights community has yet to build any bridges to the development community. It has collaborated only rarely with the tens of thousands of NGOs and grassroots organizations (GROs) working for social and economic change throughout the world. And it has failed to learn from the development community’s experiences with the challenges of fostering participation and capacity building.
The development enterprise has clearly returned the favor. As I wrote this book, I was surprised at the amount of skepticism, if not outright hostility, that still prevails in much of the development community toward human rights; many (although certainly not all) practitioners have told me that, in their opinion, the whole human rights issue is a diversion, a complication, and unnecessary fluff. More generally, the total neglect of the ESC rights framework seems rather astonishing, given that it seems to