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Challenges and dilemmas in integrating human rights-based approaches and participatory approaches to development: An exploration of the experiences of ActionAid International

Newman, Kate. 2011. Challenges and dilemmas in integrating human rights-based approaches and participatory approaches to development: An exploration of the experiences of ActionAid International. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

Participation and rights fit together, right? The right to participate is a universal human right. Participation, accountability and inclusion are central principles underlying the universal declaration of human rights, and taking a human rights-­‐based approach to development means that ‘beneficiaries’ become active participants in their development process.

But how do these two approaches to development actually interact with each other in practice? What happens when a bottom-­‐up approach to development is brought together with a universal concept of human rights? What are the trade-offs an INGO committed to participation would need to make in order to engage in rights-based practice?

This thesis is based on an 'extreme' case, the education work of ActionAid International. ActionAid is an INGO committed to transforming power relations at every level, to strengthening Southern participation in shaping and defining development, and to taking a human rights-based approach to poverty eradication and development. Over the past ten years, ActionAid has been undergoing a process of organisational transformation and decentralisation in order to create the organisational form to pursue its rights-based vision. In doing this, it built on over 30 years experience of local community development and participatory practice. The organisation worked to integrate its rights-based approach with strongly rooted participatory development, but the process was complex. Translating theory into practice was influenced by organisational history, structure and culture, and the diversity of understandings of what a rights-based approach actually consists of.

This thesis draws from an analysis of ActionAid’s practice to argue that rather than complementing and extending each other, rights and participation actually exist in tension. My findings suggest that the two approaches pull the organisation in opposite directions, and that this needs to be acknowledged and worked with if INGOs are to pursue a radical transformative approach to development.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Keywords:

NGOs, development, human-rights, participation, organisational change, empowerment, critical management studies, insider-outsider research, practice-based research

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Social, Therapeutic & Community Engagement (STaCS)

Date:

November 2011

Item ID:

10563

Date Deposited:

08 Aug 2014 11:17

Last Modified:

09 Jul 2018 12:15

URI:

http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/10563

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