7
Final Synthesis and Questions

Human rights are seen not as inalienable property but as claims,
stakes, and occasionally as trumps which people play out locally and
globally, nationally and transnationally. These rights emerge, not from
declarations, but from a culture of conflict over human dignity and
self-preservation.

—MICHAEL GEYER, member of Human Rights Program
at the University of Chicago

In this conclusion I begin by synthesizing the main arguments of the book— a brief reminder of the key practical insights for those who struggled through the entire thing or a lengthy executive synthesis for those who came straight away to the conclusions. After this synthesis I step back and identify some broader, more conceptual insights about what it means to accord human rights a central place in the practice of development. This part should be of relevance to human rights specialists as well. Finally, I deal with two questions that came up repeatedly throughout this book but were never fully solved. The first one deals with the need to make choices among rights, which is often required in the real world, as development practitioners well know. In case of lack of resources, how do we set priorities? In case of a conflict between rights, how do we make trade-offs? The second question is the one of interventionism. Much of what I propose in this book seems to constitute a license for ever further interventionism by outside actors, often unmatched by knowledge, legitimacy, modesty, or accountability. Is it possible to temper, constrain, and counterbalance the evident risks this poses? How do we marry outside support with internal autonomy? I have no clear, single, or fixed answers that will solve these questions once and for all. The way we face up to them lies at the heart of

-167-

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Human Rights and Development
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Boxes and Tables vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Abbreviations and Acronyms xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - Some Debates of Relevance to the Development Practitioner 7
  • 1 - Background 9
  • 2 - The Legal Challenges 17
  • Part II - Human Rights in the Practice of Development 45
  • 3 - The Basics 47
  • 4 - Political Conditionality 56
  • 5 - Positive Support 83
  • 6 - A Rights-Based Approach to Development 122
  • 7 - Final Synthesis and Questions 167
  • Notes 203
  • Bibliography 211
  • Index 227
  • About the Author 241
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