Human Rights and Development

The details
Law (School of)
Colchester Campus
Postgraduate: Level 7
Sunday 17 January 2021
Friday 26 March 2021
10 September 2019


Requisites for this module



Key module for

LLM M2M012 Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Module description

LW915 explores the links between human rights and development, within a global context of injustice, poverty, inequality, and sustainability. Throughout, the theory, institutions and practice of development are explored primarily from the perspective of international human rights law.
Development and human rights have often been addressed through different agendas and institutions, like "ships passing in the night", but there are important linkages between them. The module explores the different ways in which human rights and development have become linked conceptually and in practice, through critically examining the 'right to development'; the 'human rights-based approach to development'; and the relationship of global development agendas, particularly the Sustainable Development Goals, with human rights. Does human rights law add anything important to development, and what might its limitations be?
The module will consider selected relevant debates. What is the link of human rights to neoliberalism, austerity, distributive justice, redistribution and the welfare state? How squarely do human rights address vast and often growing socio-economic inequalities within and between countries? What does international law tell us about the human rights responsibilities or obligations of donor states, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund? What is the place of human rights in debates on sustainability and the environment? Throughout, particular attention will be given to the human rights of some of the groups that may be marginalized in development processes and outcomes, including people living in poverty, women, persons with disabilities and indigenous groups.

Module aims

The module strives to provide students with an understanding of the linkages between development and human rights in theory and in practice. During the module, students will be encouraged to think critically about the concept of development from the point of view of human rights; the value-added and limitations of human rights in development; and about the approach of some key development institutions when it comes to human rights.

Human rights are increasingly mainstreamed in development or other related policies of governments, international organisations and civil society, as well as global development agendas: students will develop an understanding of the relevant international human rights legal framework, including its strengths and weaknesses. This will provide a strong foundation for those wishing to work with human rights in the development field; with development in the human rights field; or to undertake further studies in the area.

Module learning outcomes

Students will gain an understanding of (i) in brief, the history and key approaches to development, and their bearing on human rights (ii) the right to development and the human rights-based approach to development (iii) the approach to human rights of key development actors, particularly the State; donors, the World Bank and the IMF; (iv) the Sustainable Development Goals and human rights; the relationship of human rights with austerity and neoliberalism; (v) the environment; development and rights; (vi) human rights of key groups in development, including persons living in poverty; persons with disabilities, indigenous persons and women.

It should be noted that development is shaped by a range of institutions and policies. This module is focused particularly on the following actors: the State; donors; and international institutions including the UN and International Financial Institutions. While the module touches briefly on the role of the private sector, module LW922 covers this much more extensively.

Module information

Topics covered:

1. Key issues and concepts of development and human rights
2. The human right to development
3. The human rights-based approach to development
4. The Sustainable Development Goals and Human Rights
5. Economic policy, economic inequality and the responsibility of the State: neoliberalism and austerity under the microscope
6. The World Bank, International Monetary Fund and human rights
7. The Environment, Development and Human Rights
8. Persons with disabilities and development
9. Revisiting key debates on development & the rights of indigenous peoples in development

Learning and teaching methods

The module is taught through weekly two hour seminars during the spring term. It is anticipated that students will prepare adequately to facilitate a class discussion on some of the key questions identified, week-by-week, on the reading list. The seminars will be roughly half lecture and half discussion.


  • Lord, Janet; Raja, Deepti Samant; Blanck, Peter. (2013) 'Beyond the Orthodoxy of Rule of Law and Justice Sector Reform: A Framework for Legal Empowerment and Innovation through the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities', in World Bank Legal Review. vol. 4
  • (no date) Lubicon Lake Band v. Canada, Communication No. 167/1984 (26 March 1990), U.N. Doc. Supp. No. 40 (A/45/40) at 1 (1990)..
  • Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development .:. Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/post2015/transformingourworld/publication
  • Broberg, Morten; Sano, Hans-Otto. (2018-05-28) 'Strengths and weaknesses in a human rights-based approach to international development – an analysis of a rights-based approach to development assistance based on practical experiences', in The International Journal of Human Rights. vol. 22 (5) , pp.664-680
  • (25 September 2015) Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
  • Huge victory for Kenya’s Ogiek as African Court sets major precedent for indigenous peoples’ land rights - Minority Rights Group, https://minorityrights.org/2017/05/26/huge-victory-kenyas-ogiek-african-court-sets-major-precedent-indigenous-peoples-land-rights/
  • O'Connell, Paul. (2007) 'On Reconciling Irreconcilables: Neo-Liberal Globalisation and Human Rights', in Human Rights Law Review. vol. 7 (3) , pp.483-509
  • (no date) Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action - A/CONF.157/23.
  • Hulme, D. (2014) 'Poverty in Development Thought: Symptoms or Cause', in International development: ideas, experience, and prospects, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • UN Committee for Development Policy. (2018) Leaving no one behind (summary).
  • Bradlow, Daniel D. (2005) 'Differing Conceptions of Development and the Content of International Development Law', in South African Journal on Human Rights. vol. 21, pp.47-
  • (4 December 1986) A/RES/41/128. Declaration on the right to development.
  • Report to the General Assembly of the Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Philip Alston, 8 May 2018. UN doc. A/HRC/38/33, http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=A/HRC/38/33
  • (no date) UN Millennium Declaration, General Assembly Resolution of 8 September 2000, UN Doc. A/RES/55/2.
  • (no date) Case of the Indigenous Community Xmok Kek v. Paraguay | ESCR-Net.
  • Convention C169 - Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 (No.169), http://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=NORMLEXPUB:12100:0::NO::P12100_ILO_CODE:C169
  • Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities - Articles | United Nations Enable, https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/convention-on-the-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities/convention-on-the-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities-2.html
  • Balakrishnan, R; Elson, D; Heintz, J; Lusiani, N. (2011) Maximum Available Resources and Human Rights: Center for Women's Global Leadership.
  • de Schutter, Olivier. (22 January 2018) The International Dimensions of the Right to Development: A Fresh Start towards Improving Accountability, paper prepared for the Open Ended Working Group on the Right to Development.
  • Literature Review on Sexuality and Poverty | Institute of Development Studies, https://www.ids.ac.uk/publications/literature-review-on-sexuality-and-poverty/
  • Leroy, Anne-Marie. (2012) Legal note on Bank involvement in the criminal justice sector.
  • Report to the General Assembly of the Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, https://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/70/274
  • UNDP. (no date) Human Development Report 2016: Development for Everyone.
  • (no date) CESCR’s Annual Report for 2000, REPORT ON THE TWENTY-SECOND, TWENTY-THIRD AND TWENTY-FOURTH SESSIONS, (25 April-12 May 2000, 14 August-1 September 2000, 13 November -1 December 2000).
  • Piron, L-H. (2002) The Right to Development: A Review of the Current State of the Debate.
  • Pogge, Thomas. (2005) 'World Poverty and Human Rights', in Ethics & International Affairs. vol. 19 (1) , pp.1-7
  • Uvin, P. (2002) 'On High Moral Ground: The Incorporation of Human Rights by the Development Enterprise', in The Fletcher Journal of Development Studies. vol. XVII
  • What does it mean to leave no one behind? | UNDP, https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/librarypage/poverty-reduction/what-does-it-mean-to-leave-no-one-behind-.html
  • Theresia Degener. (2016) Disability in a Human Rights Context.
  • Thomas, Rebekah; Kuruvilla, Shyama; Hinton, Rachael; Jensen, Steven; Magar, Veronica; Bustreo, Flavia. (10 December 2015) Assessing the Impact of a Human Rights-Based Approach across a Spectrum of Change for Women’s, Children’s, and Adolescents’ Health – Health and Human Rights Journal: Health and Human Rights Journal. vol. 17 (2)
  • Langford, M. (2016) 'Lost in Transformation? The Politics of the Sustainable Development Goals', in Ethics & International Affairs: Cambridge University Press. vol. 30 (2) , pp.167-176
  • Giavanti, F. (2001) Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the IMF, 7 May 2001, UN Doc. E/C.12/2001/WP.5.
  • MacNaughton, Gillian. (2017-10-13) 'Vertical inequalities: are the SDGs and human rights up to the challenges?', in The International Journal of Human Rights. vol. 21 (8) , pp.1050-1072
  • Resolution 33/14 adopted by the Human Rights Council on 29 September 2016: the right to development, http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=A/HRC/RES/33/14
  • Twomey, Patrick. (2007) 'Chapter 3: Human Rights-Based Approaches to Development: Towards Accountability', in Economic, social and cultural rights in action, Oxford: Oxford University Press., pp.45-70
  • De Grieff. (2014) 'Transitional Justice and Development', in International development: ideas, experience, and prospects, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Fredman, S., Kuosmanen, Campbell, M. (2016/07) 'Transformative Equality: Making the Sustainable Development Goals Work for Women', in Ethics & International Affairs: Cambridge University Press. vol. 30 (2) , pp.177-187
  • Escobar, A. (2005) 'Imagining a Post-Development Era?', in The anthropology of development and globalization: from classical political economy to contemporary neoliberalism, Malden, MA: Blackwell. vol. Blackwell anthologies in social and cultural anthropology, pp.352-359
  • Who will be Accountable? Human Rights and the Post-2015 Development Agenda, 2013, http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/WhoWillBeAccountable.pdf
  • Williams, Carmel; Hunt, Paul. (2017-10-13) 'Neglecting human rights: accountability, data and Sustainable Development Goal 3', in The International Journal of Human Rights. vol. 21 (8) , pp.1114-1143
  • (no date) Report of the Secretary General to the General Assembly on Renewing the United Nations: a Programme for Reform, UN Doc. A/51/950, July 1997.
  • Fagan, Andrew. (2019) 'The Gentrification of Human Rights', in Hum. Rts.. vol. 41 (2019) , pp.283-308201941
  • (2003) The Human Rights-Based Approach to Development Cooperation: Towards a Common Understanding Among UN Agencies: The Second UN Inter-Agency Workshop on Implementing a Human Rights-Based Approach in the Context of UN Reform.
  • Stephen Marks. (©2018) 'Poverty and Human Rights', in International human rights law, Oxford: Oxford University Press., pp.597-618-
  • (no date) Report of the High-Level Task Force on the Implementation of the Right to Development on its sixth session, Right to Development Criteria and Operational Sub-criteria, A/HRC/15/WG.2/TF/2/Add.2, 8 March 2010.
  • Of Austerity, Human Rights and International Institutions, http://www.lse.ac.uk/humanRights/documents/2015/salomonWpsAusterity.pdf
  • Moyn, Samuel; EBSCOhost ebook collection. (2018) Not enough: human rights in an unequal world, Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
  • Palacio, Ana. (October 2006) 'The Way Forward: Human Rights and the World Bank', in Development Outreach., pp.35-37
  • Marks, Stephen. (2004) 'The Human Right to Development: Between Rhetoric and Reality', in Harvard Human Rights Journal. vol. 17, pp.137-
  • Inter-Agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators. (no date) Global Indicator Framework for the SDGs and targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (amended 2019).
  • Institute for Human Rights and Development and Others v Democratic Republic of Congo, Communication 393/10 | ESCR-Net, https://www.escr-net.org/caselaw/2018/institute-human-rights-and-development-and-others-v-democratic-republic-congo
  • Morgan, Rhiannon. (2009) 'Forging indigenous rights at the United Nations: A social constructionist account', in Interpreting human rights: social science perspectives, London: Routledge. vol. Routledge advances in sociology, pp.121-140
  • Gigoux, Carlos; Samson, Colin. (2016) 'Globalization and Indigenous Peoples: New old patterns', in The Routledge international handbook of globalization studies, Abingdon: Routledge., pp.272-295
  • (no date) Letter from 28 special procedures mandate holders to the President of the World Bank, Mr Jim Yong Kim, 12 December 2014.
  • Wills, Joe. (2017) Contesting world order?: socioeconomic rights and global justice movements, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • CESCR Statement on Public Debt, Austerity Measures and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights , 22 July 2016, http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=E%2fC.12%2f2016%2f1&Lang=en
  • Bustreo,, F. (2013) Women’s and Children’s Health: Evidence of Impact of Human Rights: WHO.
  • Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IPeoples/SRIndigenousPeoples/Pages/SRIPeoplesIndex.aspx
  • Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. (2016) Statement on Public Debt, Austerity Measures and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. vol. E/C.12/2016/1
  • World Bank; Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2013) Integrating human rights into development: donor approaches, experiences, and challenges, Washington, D.C.: OECD, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
  • Fujita, Sanae. (2011-03) 'The challenges of mainstreaming human rights in the World Bank', in The International Journal of Human Rights. vol. 15 (3) , pp.374-396
  • Anaya, S. James. (c2009) International human rights and indigenous peoples, Austin: Wolters Kluwer Law & Business.
  • (no date) Ivan Kitok v. Sweden, Communication No. 197/1985, CCPR/C/33/D/197/1985 (1988)..
  • Gready, P. (2009) 'Reasons to Be Cautious about Evidence and Evaluation: Rights-based Approaches to Development and the Emerging Culture of Evaluation', in Journal of Human Rights Practice. vol. 1 (3) , pp.380-401
  • Fukuda-Parr, Sakiko. (2019-01) 'Keeping Out Extreme Inequality from the Agenda – The Politics of Indicators', in Global Policy. vol. 10 (S1) , pp.61-69
  • Committee on the Rights of the Child. (2016-07-20) General Comment No. 19 on Public Budgeting for the Realisation of Children’s Rights. vol. CRC/C/GC/19
  • (no date) Report to the General Assembly of the Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Philip Alston, 4 August 2015. UN doc. A/70/274.
  • Claire E. Brolan. (2016) A Word of Caution: Human Rights, Disability, and Implementation of the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Langford, Malcolm. (2015-07) 'Rights, Development and Critical Modernity', in Development and Change. vol. 46 (4) , pp.777-802
  • Report of UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – extractive industries, A/HRC/24/41, 1st November 2017, https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session24/Documents/A-HRC-24-41_en.pdf
  • Sengupta, Arjun. (2002) 'On the Theory and Practice of the Right to Development', in Human Rights Quarterly. vol. 24, pp.837-
  • UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007), http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/documents/DRIPS_en.pdf
  • (no date) International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
  • Way, S. A.; Lusiani, N.; Saiz, I. (2014) 'Economic and Social Rights in the 'Great Recession': Towards a Human Rights-Centered Economic Policy', in Economic, social and cultural rights in international law: contemporary issues and challenges, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Jason Hickel. (2015-09-23) 'Forget 'developing' poor countries, it's time to 'de-develop' rich countries', in Guardian, The Guardian.
  • Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, General Comment No. 1, UN Doc. CRPD/C/GC/1, https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CRPD/C/GC/1&Lang=en
  • Thunberg, Greta. (September 2019) YouTube.

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   LW915: Essay      

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Ms Judith Bueno De Mesquita, email: jrbuen@essex.ac.uk.
Ms Jude Bueno de Mesquita, Birsha Ohdedar & Professor Lars Waldorf



External examiner

Prof Julia Shaw
De Montfort University
Professor of Law
Available via Moodle
Of 18 hours, 18 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information
Law (School of)

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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