The meaning of ‘development’ changes according to what society needs to achieve a better life at any one time (Crocker 1992, p. 585). Exactly how we approach development varies according to our conception of justice in light of this goal. This paper examines three approaches to development: the Rights Based approach, the Basic Needs approach and the Capability approach. Concluding: that as far as fairness goes, the Rights Based approach is the most agreeable of the three, but even so, is not without fault.
The Rights Based approach is based on the concept of Human Rights, which aim to create freedom, justice and peace in the world (United Nations 2014, ‘The Universal Declaration of Human Rights’, para. 1). This approach views development in terms of building the capacity of individuals and Nation States to realize and claim their rights from duty-bearers and to perform their obligation to respect, protect and fulfill those rights claimed (Joussan 2003 p. 15; OHCHR 1996-2012, ‘What are Human Rights?’ para. 9). The nature and extent of such rights have been determined through a process of negotiation and agreement between differing member states from around the globe (United Nations 2014, ‘History Of The Document’, para. 1-7) and have been codified in the following documents: The United Nations Charter (1945), The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), The International Covenant Economic, Social and Cultural Rights(1966) and The Declaration on the Right to Development (1986). The Charter and Declaration do not have legal force serving more as a vision for member states to strive towards. But those Covenants agreed to and signed by the various member states are legally binding (Australian Human Rights Commission 2014, ‘Human Rights Explained: Fact Sheet 5: The International Bill of Human Rights’ para. 2-3).
One of the charges against the instrumentalisation of Human Rights is that they could be used to oppress, rather than emancipate (Kabasakal Arat 2008 p. 926, 931). While, such a charge can be dismissed in light of the voluntary process by which Human Rights are negotiated, accepted and agreed to, the charge is not totally unfounded. For with the acceptance of rights comes the responsibility to respect equally the rights of others, regardless of their differing attitudes and beliefs (Joussan 2003 p. 15; OHCHR 1996-2012 ‘What are Human Rights?’ para. 9). This can be an issue for those who are educated and well informed, or simply fundamentalist in their belief about what constitutes right and wrong and how things should be. In such cases, when the attitudes and beliefs of others contradicted our own, the obligation to accept the equal rights of all could seem oppressive and even against social progress.
More importantly, the real concern with regards to the Rights Based approach being a tool of oppression is due to the obligation of the Nation State to protect said rights...